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Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Winter weather advisory extended; up to 4 inches of snow expected in Ann Arbor area

By Cindy Heflin

The National Weather Service has extended the winter weather advisory for the Ann Arbor area until 7 p.m. Thursday.

Forecasters said snow squalls are expected to produce about 2 inches of snowfall and up to 4 inches in some areas. Snowfall rates could exceed 1 inch per hour in areas affected by the most intense snow bands, the weather service said.

Visibility will be reduced to less than one-quarter mile at times. Road conditions could deteriorate rapidly in those areas, forecasters said.


Motorists creep along Jackson Road west of Ann Arbor during Thursday morning's snowfall.

John Counts |

The advisory issued earlier had been set to expire at 1 p.m.

Bands of lake effect snow moving across southeast Michigan caught drivers by surprise earlier Thursday morning, resulting in numerous crashes, including a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 75 in Detroit that killed three people and shut the freeway.

Another multi-vehicle crash closed U.S. 23 near Milan Thursday morning, but no serious injuries were reported in that crash. The crash was first reported about 6:30 a.m. on southbound U.S. 23 between Carpenter and Plank roads, Huron Valley Ambulance spokeswoman Joyce Williams said. A car was stuck under a semi and the driver required extrication, Joyce Williams with HVA said.

Milan firefighter Greg Brierley said eight to 12 vehicles were involved in the crash and other crashes then occurred north and south of the first crash. HVA transported two people to the University of Michigan Hospital and one to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Williams said.

An ambulance from out of the area also was involved in the crash, Williams said. “They happened to be on the road,” she said.

Three other patients were transported to the University of Michigan Hospital in stable condition. There was an ambulance from out of the area involved in the crash. The ambulance was not responding to the crash. “They happened to be on the road,” Williams said.



Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:54 a.m.

Don't worry folks, spring will be here tomorrow. Bill's hot dogs opens.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

I'm guessing the roads weren't salted or plowed because the employees that do the work couldn't get to work like the rest of drive took over two hours to go less than 13 miles.....I watched as police and ambulances tried to pass a line of cars not moving and traffic from the opposite direction kept moving toward them and didn't pull over. Get a clue people, when you hear and see first responders stop and pull over...


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:26 a.m.

Snow wasn't the problem. Ice, that was the problem. My 2.4 mile commute took 40 minutes. The west side of the city was hit hard and fast - accidents everywhere you looked, and both Miller and 7th were parking lots. Newport was a hilly ice rink and Huron was downright dangerous. I never saw a snow plow or a salt truck on my "commute" this morning. Two thumbs down for the road commission.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

I remember a long time ago that on the first signs of NWS giving us a warning or advisory, salt trucks went out in force. Now that the county is for all intense purposes, broke, they do not salt on a whim they wait now until the last minute when roads head south to salt. Which IMO? Is too little too late. Wayne county salts when NWS says jump they say how high. Washtenaw does not do this anymore. They now send trucks out when trucks are needed. Too little to late Washtenaw. Take a hint from Wayne County.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

If I am not mistaken , Washtenaw county road crews do not work on the Interstate roads , they take care of county roads while the State Highway Department takes care of the Interstate roads.

going nowhere

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

sorry old.....but the road commission is contracted from MDOT to maintain the freeways in washtenaw county


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

Once again, Washenaw County and Ann Arbor lock arms in failure to make the roads safe during common winter weather. Everyone involved should be fired immediately. ....remember today when you read about how City Council can't figure out how to hire someone who can get simple jobs like this done, but his really super worried about cross walks, phones and texting. FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN CLEAR THE ROADS!!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

As far as budgets go, the county reported that they had a surplus of funds last spring/summer due to a mild winter and that meant more money could be spent on road repairs. I'm all for fixing some of the swiss cheese holed roads throughout the county, but I certainly hope this alleged surplus was not moved completely from one basket to another. That being said, I watched the weather last night and followed reports from various sources. I went to bed knowing and fully expecting it be a mess this morning. Even though the snow did not make an appearance until closer to day time, my family was prepared in advance in case we would need to move earlier. The fact that temperatures were going to drop dramatically (as reported on and every other news source), I would have thought that the county would have been better prepared. All of our snow melted, temps were near 60, and we've had rain. All that water does freeze, and that should have been taken care of. This isn't a "oh gosh, it snowed suddenly and we have no idea how to handle it" situation. The county did another major disservice to its residents. There were no trucks out Friday or Saturday in the A2/Pittsfield area. It was obvious going down Washtenaw Ave and the road was nothing but snow, ice, and slush. What gives? Why did it take three days for trucks to clear the roads within the county (and no, I am not talking secondary roads). As I see it, from an extreme local standpoint, if the county can't clear the roads and treat them in a timely matter, than the city of Ypsilanti can get off their residents' cases about clearing their walkways within 48 hours of a snowfall. Fair is fair.

Kent Jocque

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 10 p.m.

It costs money to clear roads and the Road Commission has to live within its budget, See: "Despite efforts to reduce overtime costs, [Steve Puuri, the Road Commission's managing director] said the agency still expects to pay more for winter maintenance this year than last year due to increasing prices for salt, fuel, equipment rental, and employee wages. Agency leaders say salt prices are about 40 percent higher this winter. The Road Commission has already purchased 13,500 tons and plans to go through 20,000 tons before the season is over. The Road Commission saw about a 40 percent increase in the price of salt this season. The agency now expects to spend about $1 million on salt before the winter is over. Puuri said the Road Commission has paid between $47 and $54 per ton for salt this year. "It's a tremendous amount of money that gets poured out the tailgates," he said. "You're talking a million dollars"


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

slow down...way down. It is winter.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Since so many of the (rather unjustified, in my opinion) complaints are being upvoted, I thought I would add a couple comments from the other side: First, if you read the weather predictions, which are notoriously inaccurate, you would have seen that there was no indication that we should expect anything more than random snow showers. Second, the snow arrived very quickly, and fell very heavily in a fairly narrow band. I don't think that radar soundings showed either the intensity, or the immediacy of the snowfall. Third, many of the driving issues were, from what I could see, just that: Problem drivers, of whom there are many, who failed to exercise caution, or exercised panic, or exercised too much caution. I understand expecting responsibility from the Road Commission, but most of what has been posted smacks more of unenlightened blame-casting. At any rate, weather here is, by nature, unpredictable, and the local prognosticators are among the worst. If you really expected the WCRC to be prepared, perhaps you should have been, as well.

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

Unenlightened? In contrast to you're view, I've found weather predictions to be increasingly accurate over the last few years. And with near real-time radar updates, I can see when and where precipitation will hit. It just ain't rocket science anymore and perhaps we should have a road commission that is capable of harnessing this new-fangled technology. Frankly, I'm weary of the constant blame-storming and excuses about road conditions in general. It is certainly possible that with current procedures this morning's fiasco could not have been prevented. But does the road commission have a quality system that uses this failure to modify its procedures in a thoughtful--and traceable--manner so that repeats can be avoided? Don't know but I suspect not. And that's the real problem--a shrug of the shoulders, "It's just Mother Nature."


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Hear hear. What baffles me is winter isn't new and the cost effective technique employed by our road crews (to save tax payer dollars which even the complainers wont want to pay more of) isn't new. It's like we forget over the summer that speed limits are not maintained by a road crew... instead its relative to the active road conditions. Slow down if its slick or there a dangerous non-salted area. That way you can make use of your car insurance not life insurance.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Plows are totally worthless until the snow begins piling up. Salt does not help on snow. The county road departments cannot do anything about the lack of visibility while it is snowing. It is not logical to expect to make a usually 15 minute drive in 15 minutes when the weather conditions are bad. Stay off the roads unless you have to be out there. Don't cuss those salt truck drivers when the salt they are spraying is hitting your car. Be sure you have sufficient windshield washer fluid to wash away the salt water sprayed on your car by other vehicles. It dries to an opaque white. Clear more than a 6 inch peep hole in the snow on your windshield and rear window. And the drivers are blaming the road commissions?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

No we are questioning their abilities to plan for these events, that were well foreseeable. If any one says differently ask them what they EXPECT to have happen when you have that wide of a temperature swing combined with precipitation. The majority of drivers where not driving like crazed lunatics this morning (I didn't see even one, but a coworker did) they had no ability to due to the ice build up on the roads. Think about how heavily debated this issue has been today, all of us made it to work, most if not all unscathed but upset it was such a harrowing drive due to the services we pay for not being performed.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Why was my comment on The Road Commission deleted? I did not call names or use bad language or anything else. Please explain.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

Hi arborani- When you see double comments please feel free to point them out using the "report abuse" button by the comment and telling us it is a duplicate in the explanation. Although we do our best to monitor the conversations going on the site as much as possible it is impractical to catch every single situation when we have thousands of comments posted every day. Thanks for understanding!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Such" blocking" is certainly not evenly enforced - I see frequent instances of double posts which were never blocked throughout the "life" of the thread.

Julie Baker

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

justcurious, we do not allow double-posted comments. One posting of your comment was blocked. Please email with any comments on moderation.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

My comment on the Road Commission was deleted for reasons unknown to me...this Commissioner has certainly had a long run.. "Fred J. Veigel Member of the Board Fred Veigel has served on the Washtenaw County Board of Road Commissioners since he was first appointed by the County Board of Commissioners in December of 1990 and officially assumed his Road Commissioner position in January 1991. Commissioner Veigel's current term will expire effective December 31, 2014. In addition to being a member on the Road Commission Board, Veigel has previously held the positions of both Chair and Vice-Chair of the WCRC Board throughout his term of appointment. A graduate from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, Veigel has been a long time resident of Washtenaw County and Ypsilanti. He graduated from Local 252 IBEW with a 4-year electrical apprenticeship in 1958, is a U.S. Army veteran, and has held a multitude of prominent public service positions in the County that span over 40 years."


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

So what is your point???? Fred Veigel has been a Commissioner for a long time???? Whoa, look out.

going nowhere

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

everyone thinks it went from rain to ice this morning. I'm sure while all of you were in bed all warm , you didn't see that all the freeways were clear and dry at 5 a.m. not a problem anywhere....the snow came fast and hard.....when you put salt down on a dry freeway for your so called pre-treatment..the traffic just blows it all in the ditch . so that doesn't work like salting a driveway or parking lot....where traffic is barely moving...common sense should tell people that

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I am just curious. Has the road funding been cut due to budget concerns? Because if so, then it doesn't seem fair to expect them to provide the same level of service they have been providing all along? Are we, as a community, willing to pay what it takes to ensure clear roads in the early morning after an overnight snow storm? I am but I am not so sure about my neighbors.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

Really when our lack of snow fall last year and so far this year, saved them a bundled in comparison to what they were to budget for. The community has already paid, we need performance now, and not the dance they are doing around the issue!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

So I get that an ambulance from out of the area was involved. Twice... M-14 west was a parking lot from US-23 at 7:15. Took nearly 50 minutes to drive what is a 15 minute drive.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

You want bad winter roads, try travelling in Lenawee county. I think they may have traded all their salt trucks for Zamboni's. As we drive from Lenawee into Washtenaw each morning, we are greeted by roads not covered with 2 inches of ice. You could go out right now and physically see the county lines, based on road conditions. Just ask my son, who last week wrapped his car around a road sign on a ice covered Lenawee county road. Two miles down the road, Washtenaw county roads were merely wet.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

This quote is from earlier article on an "Jim Harmon, director of operations for the Washtenaw County Road Commission, said most snowplow drivers reported at 7 a.m. Thursday and were heading out to their routes. A few drivers had been called in early to deal with trouble spots." With all the advance notice from the weather service that rain would changing over to snow - why in the world would Washtenaw County Road Commission schedule most of their salt & snow plow drivers to report in at 7AM ?? By 7am many people are well on their way to work or school. They need to schedule drivers to report in at 4am-5am to get the roads treated for the normal morning rush traffic. Absolutely NO EXCUSE to schedule their crews to begin treating the roads at 7am!!

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Timber, I have spoken to Jim Harmon and am addressing these questions in another article that will be posted later today.

Robot Charles

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Respect Mother Nature. Just because there's a road doesn't mean it's always safe to drive on.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Is the picture above taken by the person driving the car?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

I don't understand why the commissioners and other local reps aren't being held responsible to these problems with our roads when the weather is bad. The neglect and lack of proactive maintenance leads to loss of life and property. No wonder insurance premiums in this state continue to skyrocket! I expect that if an employee is doing a crappy job for a company they are reprimanded or fired! Why is it always that these county and local governments escape responsibility?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

No one on the Road Commission is elected. They are appointed. It is an old boy network. If you want a job there you have to know somebody. Some of them have been there forever. They don't really answer to the people. States have been getting rid of their Road Commissions for years and it is time Michigan did the same. A system that worked in 1919 does not work today. We need accountability not excuses.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

How about we hold mother nature repsonisble or the drivers that are in a hurry and didn't prepare. If its icy stay home or slow down. Some accidents can not be prevented no matter how hard we try. I was also driving on the roads this morning. And yes they were horrible. But I sure wasn't thinking it was the Road Commissions fault. I was thinking WOW MOTHER NATURE IS SURE CONFUSED. Welcome to Michigan, we deal with this every year!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

"Another multi-vehicle crash closed U.S. 23 near Milan Thursday morning, but no serious injuries were reported in that crash. The crash was first reported about 6:30 a.m. on southbound U.S. 23 between Carpenter and Plank roads, Huron Valley Ambulance spokeswoman Joyce Williams said. A car was stuck under a semi and the driver required extrication, Joyce Williams with HVA said. Milan firefighter Greg Brierley said eight to 12 vehicles were involved in the crash and other crashes then occurred north and south of the first crash. HVA transported two people to the University of Michigan Hospital and one to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Williams said." Cars stuck under semis? 8-12 vehicles in a crash? And none of this is serious? It's totally inexcusable that the county does NOT pre-treat of salt in advance of these storms. There is plenty of warning for the snowfall and yet the county does not act!!!!! It really is inexcusable.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

That was a fair delete - sorry. However - RuralMom she (Gramma) does have you there. And Ann Arbor isn't on an island... it happened on all area roads in all counties including major interstates (such as I-75). Though we can continue to vilify our own crews if we like.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

RuralMom, You included Detroit in your list of places that do not get lake effect snow.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Gramma, is I-75 here in ANN ARBOR? Nope! I was not speaking of that squall, I was speaking of the weather that fell last night and we woke up to in Ann Arbor or even the NorthWest portion of Washtenaw County. I never ever mentioned the I-75 accident!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Rural Mom, The 30+ car crash on I-75 was explicitily stated to be lake effect snow and a sudden white out. Plowing and salting have zero effect on white out visibility.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Twelve vehicles were involved in the crash. Could this be because the drivers were not leaving adequate stopping distance for the road conditions. On good roads, that is one car length for each 10 miles an hour you're driving. More on slippery roads. Were they going too fast for conditions? Drivers should take some responsibility for their own driving.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Mark I stand by my statement, the NWS was making that comment for a much broader area than just Ann Arbor. What we experienced overnight was NOT Lake effect snow, despite what people are pumped up to believe so that others are not held accountable for not performing their job tasks.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.



Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

This was NOT lake effect snow people: Lake-effect snow is uncommon in Detroit, Toledo, Milwaukee, and Chicago, because the region's dominant winds are from the northwest, making them upwind from their respective Great Lakes. However, they too can see lake-effect snow during easterly or north-easterly winds. More frequently, the north side of a low-pressure system picks up more moisture over the lake as it travels west, creating a phenomenon called lake-enhanced precipitation. ""


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

"NO ONE PREDICTED A WHITE OUT OR LAKE EFFECT FOR ANN ARBOR. They were barely seen on radars at times. So is the Road Commission/Jim Harmon now supposed to be Psychic too." Maybe the snow wasn't a big factor into this equation, but the fact that it was raining heavily last night while the temperature was taking a nosedive overnight should have clued them in that they should at least be ready. The same statement applies to the motorists as well.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

NO ONE PREDICTED A WHITE OUT OR LAKE EFFECT FOR ANN ARBOR. They were barely seen on radars at times. So is the Road Commission/Jim Harmon now supposed to be Psychic too. They really have some big shoes to fill if thats the case. No one will ever be happy.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Both of you are absolutely right about the lack of preparedness. Even at almost 8 am, I-94 just west of Ann Arbor was a parking lot and Wagner Rd. was nearly impassable due to all of the accidents and cars stuck on the ice going every which-way. The police and ambulances were having a very hard time getting through. Same scenario on Newport Rd. A little bit of salt would have alleviated most of the problems, and saved motorists a lot of grief and money. Well, at least the body shops will be busy.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Hondo - tiem to take a chill pill


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Newport Rd was a mess this morning. There were cars sliding on every little hill including one that slid into a city bus, A bit of salt early on would have prevented much turmoil


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Lighten up, Francis. Just FYI, I DID leave early AFTER shoveling my sidewalk, I don't do 80 on I-94 even when the roads are good, and I understand how salt works. It would have worked a lot better than what was done this morning, which was nothing.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

How prepared were you? Did you leave early or normal time and upset you couldnt do 80 on 94? You apparently are a sideline snow plow afficienado, CAUSE IT JUST ISNT THAT EASY TO THROW SOME SALT DOWN AND CALL IT GOOD. So you put salt down on ice it snows(started at 7) the snow melts over the ice due to it being an insulator of yes even cold air, then that turns to slush and well its a big process all of you apparently dont understand. You all have your sidewalks shoveled cause man if you havent done you part why an opinion about others work. I bet your sidewalks arent shoveled....


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

And all the ins premiums will go up again because of all the crashes and people involved will pay more. The city needs to start paying for the damages in these crashes.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

OK. With all of this advance notice, what will be the excuse of the road commission and city not to plow or salt????? Somehow, regardless of how much advance warning these storms have, neither the road commission nor the city get their trucks out IN ADVANCE to do salting and pre-treat the roads, as is done in other cities and counties in Michigan. Washtenaw County and A2 are the WORST in the state for road maintenance. Oh, that's right. The city skimmed off funds from road maintenance in A2.....for that ugly public art!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Funny I watched the news this morning at 5:45 and the weather man never said this was coming . I made it to work in Ann Arbor from Jackson Co. just fine at 6:30 on I-94 granted it was slow but people were still going normal speed as usual. You guys sayvthe same thing every snow storm always pointing fingers!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

These days you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the weather. My 5 year old could have looked at Wunderground and seen that the snow was going to reach Ann Arbor. Maybe we need to get the road commission connected to that new fangled internet.......


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

MgoBlueMomma, I am not asking the road commission to control the weather, I am asking that they be responsible, at least as responsible as the rest of us. As the Wife of a Man (no you don't have the exclusive corner) that does building, facility and grounds maintenance, this system was a no brainer to plan for. He is up and out the door before the plows and stays late to get the job done right. Just like his crew had to plan to care for the residents of their community, the Road Commission should be able to this as well, with more accuracy then the average joe. Substandard care is what we are getting out of the Washtenaw Road Commission this year that's for certain. Predicting the weather isn't brain surgery, its very simple, it rained like cats & dogs, then the temps dropped, so you better drop salt BEFORE it freezes completely over. That way when the flurries or lake effect snow (laughable in our area mind you) start up, you already have a good base to build upon. Geeze louise!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

Maybe the Road Commission didn't start until 7. That does that mean that they NEVER do anything proactive. I know for a fact that they do. My husband is one that leaves his family early in the morning to come out and help all the drivers get to where they have got to go. He is also one that stay WAY past his normal time to go, to also take care of the roads..... And once again no one had predicted the Lake Effect/Whiteouts in the Ann Arbor Area. The Road Commission can't control that.

L. C. Burgundy

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

To be fair, this lake effect snow event was not really predicted to hit the Ann Arbor area as late as last night, when the official NWS prediction was for a half inch or less of snow for today. Lake effect snow is actually quite rare for Ann Arbor.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

I heard the same thing on the radio about not even having road crews report until 7 am this morning. It wasn't like there wasn't plenty of advance warning about this over the past few days.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

Right, Ruralmom. They stroll in at 7 am, take time to get ready and then around 8 am they START salting roads that could have been pre-treated starting at 6 am, when school buses and commuters are out there. A2 is just a bunch of total losers when it comes to road maintenance. NEVER any proactive pretreatment, or god forbid, getting to work earlier, to actually START salting at 6 or 7 am. A2 road crews come to work on THEIR schedule, regardless of the road conditions.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

This morning was horrible and they had more than adequate warning. They even said in another article that they didn't have the vast majority of drivers report until 7am, then get ready and out on the road. Sorry but the school buses run much earlier than that, then all the commuters. This morning at I-94 & Baker, all the way back into Dexter was icy conditions that needed salt, also Jackson Road was a complete nightmare. Didn't matter what direction people were coming from, they had horrible road conditions.