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Posted on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:10 a.m.

Burst of snow sends drivers crashing on Ann Arbor-area roads

By Cindy Heflin


Motorists drive through snow falling on Interstate 94 in Ann Arbor Tuesday morning.

Melanie Maxwell |

10:30 a.m. update: All major county roads and freeways are open, a dispatcher with the Washtenaw County sheriff's department said, but police were still dealing with multiple crashes in the Ann Arbor area.

An unexpected burst of snow sent drivers spinning and crashing on Ann Arbor-area roads Tuesday morning.

Several crashes were reported on area roads and freeways, including a multiple-car crash on eastbound I-94 near Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti Township, a crash at Packard and Platt roads in Ann Arbor and one at eastbound I-94 at Baker Road near Dexter. A crash of a semi tractor-trailer and car was reported at westbound I-94 and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, a dispatcher with the Wasthenaw County sheriff's department said, but it was not clear if the road had been closed.

Westbound M-14 near Main Street in Ann Arbor was closed for a short while because vehicles couldn't make it up the incline, a dispatcher said. It was reopened after salting.

Reports from Ypsilanti indicated cars were stuck on Michigan Avenue near Prospect Street trying to climb the hill.

Snow was falling at a moderate rate just before 8 a.m., limiting visibility to about half a mile said Matt Mosteiko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

The snow moved into the Ann Arbor area from northeastern Indiana, which received an inch of snow in one hour Tuesday and a total accumulation of 1.3 inches, Mosteiko said.

“It’s possible you guys could get a quick inch,” he said. Mosteiko said snow had been in the forecast for Tuesday, but the intensity of this burst had not been anticipated.

Whatever falls won’t stay around long though. Temperatures were expected to begin warming with a high today near 40 and a rain and snow mix for the rest of the day.


Traffic slowdowns are shown in red and yellow on the map.


greg, too

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:51 a.m.

The there seem to be two major issues....#1, people around here cannot drive. #2, the city does nothing to to treat these roads proactively or while the weather is occuring, instead waiting until mother nature takes care of them. And the snow was not unexpected, as other posters have stated. Outside of the fact it was on various web weather outlets, snow does happen in Michigan in February.

Roy Munson

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

"Westbound M-14 near Main Street in Ann Arbor was closed for a short while because vehicles couldn't make it up the incline, a dispatcher said. It was reopened after salting." Ummm....why did it take until cars couldn't make it up the incline to start salting? That is an embarrassment.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

The snow accumulation rate far exceeded the melting rate. Traffic will melt the snow but it will refreeze almost as fast leaving a very thin layer of hard packed black ice. The snow was not deep enough for tire tracks. The 1 inch sudden snow storms are far worse than 3 or more inches of dry snow in light traffic. No, I don't work for the Road Commission but know when to cut them some slack, as is the case.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

I was out on I94 today around 9:30. I agree with Tesla - cut people a little slack. It was pretty slick, mushy, slushy and nasty out there and I think the "surprise" was that so little snow gave such a big hassle. That and the fact that we haven't had much snow yet this winter, people forget what you're supposed to do. The farther east I got, the rainier (thus better roads) it was. A2 was definitely the worst this morning.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Unbelievable. If you can afford the monthly bill for your cell phone with all the bells and whistles, it seems that you could also afford to keep good tires on your car, right? Right?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

I was out at 10:00am and had no trouble at all. Cars with bad tires and no stopping distance moving too fast for conditions are the two problems that I saw. Cars that could not move on a slight incline due to poor tires backed up Stadium Blvd. for a couple of lights. This caused six or eight cars behind them to be stuck because they will not put decent rubber on their vehicles. It is winter. Winterizing your car keeps you and all of the drivers on the road safer in every way. Compared to the cost of medical and car repair costs tires are relatively inexpensive.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

They are talking about the fact that all the snow fell in an hour at rush hour, people. Gee whiz. Cut them some slack.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Nice post Tesla, wish more people thought like you.

Bertha Venation

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

We have been lucky regarding snow compared to the rest of the country. I wish people would stop complaining and slow down. It could be soooo much worse!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

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Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5 p.m.

I keep a garden diary with some weather notes. Here's what I had last year for this time: Feb. 20: Big snow Feb. 21: 2 inches on top of 9 inches.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

The snow forecast might have been forecasted by some but the heavy burst that went on for two hours has been a surprise. There could be a similar situation early Thursday. Weather predictabilitiy is low because how the precip patterns set up, most of which an hour before it happens. Mother Nature still holds the trump cards in spite of better technology.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

Using the radar is not that simple. Sometimes, the lower few thousand feet above the ground is so dry, it will cause precip to evaporate before it hits the ground. In this case, the snow area was rapidly increasing. There were not that many surface observations at 7 AM to our south where the snow came from to put out a red flag. It became apparent after the 8 AM obervations came in that we would be in for 1 to 2 inches of snow in 1 to 2 hours. The temperature dropped from 35 to 31 and 32 as a result and that too was unexpected during this snow event. I wish it was that simple. We'll have to watch out for a similar surprise Thursday.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Give me a break! Snow is was forecast and it could be seen coming on the radar at 6:30 am. We didn't get 15&quot; for heavens sake. But it was cold enough to get icy.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

What do we pay the Road Commission for? Everyone seems to think that every accident is caused by bad driving. We pay the Road Commission to get out there early and start salting and sanding the roads, especially the freeways. Don't they keep up with the weather forecasts?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

I'm still looking for that perfect county that where it snows and they have zero accidents? These drivers crash around here 7 days a week regardless of weather..Next time it snows go for a ride on I94 doing 45 and see how many times you get run over.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

justcurious just to clarify this for you, I do not work for the commission. I just know how the logistics work. They did look at the weather. But it came down much harder then planned. If you look at the prior posts and articles you would see that. So they were out there when it all occured. Settle down.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

MgoBlueMomma , here is a novel idea. Why doesn't the road commission look at the weather like we all do and call some folks in early to go out and take care of the roads. We knew it was coming. And if you can &quot;set an appointment&quot; for Candy, you must work at the road commission. And if you do, what are you doing on the internet?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

nice job trolololol... 1/10


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

This one was a real surprise. The lag time between the heavy snow arrival and Road crews loaded up with salt and sand was too much to overcome. Score one for Mother Nature. Local National Weather Serice as well as Accu-Weather totally missed this one.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

And Candy your right they have not gone over budget yet but what route do you drive? Because I might be able to set an appointment to have a salt truck be right there when you need one. To pave your drive to work so your happy. The trucks were out, the snow was coming down so fast they had to take priority roads first.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

justcurious it didn't start snowing until after the road commission was clocked in today. So they were on the snow very fast. But guess what, it was also snowing fast too. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with mother nature and crazy bad drivers. So you can quit your rant against the road commission. No one cares. They are doing a great job considering the amount of snow we got in a very short period of time.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

Amen! I had a treacherous drive to work, and didn't see one salt truck! It's not like they've gone over budget on salt this winter!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

With the scant amount of snow this year it makes me wonder if folk's will REALLY forget how to drive next year.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

plus all the new imported Ann Arborite drivers we get each year that have never seen snow!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Unexpected snow in February, eh? You never get a break around here. Now if it was June, I'd be expecting it ...


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.



Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

I just don't understand why drivers do not slow down! Everyone is in such a hurry. So? Leave a little bit earlier!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

It's called driving for conditions. People don't think about it in general. Also this is a first snow season for alot of Ann Arbor drivers. Welcome!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

@pappa, thanks for the random insult to ann arborites. If you'd read the article, it looks like plenty of those crashes were on the interstate. why would ann arborites drive the interstate to commute to work within the same town they live in? Seems to me that most of these accidents are caused by people who drive to ann arbor, not those from the city.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Because drivers are dumb, especially Ann Arbor drivers ;)


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Weather Underground had snow predicted for today yesterday, with snow rain mix later in the day. No surprise really.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

To quote Bob.... &quot;You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows......&quot;


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

so did &amp;, what a crazy coincidence!