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Posted on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Roadways still snow-covered, slick in spots; conditions should improve today

By Cindy Heflin

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information about street plowing in the City of Ann Arbor.

Motorists are likely to encounter slick spots on main roads and freeways today following a weekend winter storm — but conditions should improve later as temperatures rise to around 20 degrees. The Washtenaw County Road Commission is out again with its full crew of salt trucks and road graders, said director of operations Jim Harmon. "We've got icy patches and we've seen some blowing and drifting, especially in western Washtenaw County," he said.

He said crews are applying a mix of about 70 percent sand and 30 percent salt to roads with snow and ice on them. As temperaturs rise, making salt more effective, crews will switch back to salt.

Though most schools canceled classes Monday because of the storm, only two schools in Washtenaw County — Fortis Academy and Washtenaw Christian Academy — called off classes today.


Icy roads slowed traffic around the Metro Detroit area this morning.

The Associated Press

The Road Commission made substantial progress Monday clearing subdivision and gravel roads but will be back at it today, working to get all roads down to bare pavement, Harmon said.

Sunday's winter storm and the bitter cold temperatures that followed it proved especially challenging for motorists. Michigan State Police Sgt. Chris Pascoe of the Ypsilanti post said troopers dealt with 48 crashes on Washtenaw County area freeways Monday and 31 on Sunday.

The cold rendered salt ineffective on roadways, leaving many covered with snow and ice well into Monday.

Harmon and Pascoe repeated the advice that's familiar to motorists: slow down and give other drivers plenty of room. Harmon said motorists will find some very slippery areas, especially at intersections. Also, ramps may have snow-covered and slick conditions.

In the City of Ann Arbor, Kirk Pennington of the city's Field Operations Division, said the city's 14 trucks have been out salting and sanding roads and plowing streets, He said motorists should find most main streets clear in the vehicle travel path. Crews have been able to plow about 50 percent of residential streets and expect to have them all plowed by Wednesday afternoon.

He said compacted snow and ice is difficult to remove. On plowed residential streets, motorists will find bare patches of pavement along with patches of snow and ice.

Today's forecast calls for mostly sunny and brisk conditions with a high temperature of 17 to 21. Winds of 15 to 25 mph will make the temperature feel more like zero though. We'll be back in the deep freeze tonight, with lows dropping into the single digits and wind chills around 5 below zero.

Wednesday will be partly sunny with high temperatures of 18 to 22 degrees.



Sat, Dec 18, 2010 : 10:36 p.m.

-Salt is only effective above a certain temperature. At a certain point, putting it down is just a waste of time AND money. -The Washtenaw County Road Commission (not including Ann Arbor or other city maintenence departments) is responsible for 1642.85 miles of road. Now multiply that by however many lanes a given road has. Whenever a storm hits, the Road Commission's functioning vehicles and available operators are responsible for clearing a distance equal to the entireity of I-75 (From Sault Saint Marie to Florida). -EVERY accident is avoidable. Make sure your car is in proper working order, drive far beneath the speed-limit in winter conditions, and be AWAKE and ALERT whilst driving. -Finally, remember that the Road Commission and the City of Ann Arbor ARE committed to their jobs. Before jumping to criticism, imagine your life without individuals who have dedicated their careers to protecting and improving the lives of drivers in Washtenaw County. These civil servants WANT to prevent accidents and needless deaths. I assure you, there is much more to Winter Storm Response than salt, money, and which roads get cleared first.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 2:10 a.m.

Because of the rain before the snow and falling temps so fast there would be no way the wcrc had a chance to keep the roads from ice build up. salt was blowing off with the wind.Snow blowing across added to the build up. we live in Michigan folks drive accordingly


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 11:05 p.m.

Regarding the serious lack of response to the snow storm I would respond privatize these jobs. Washtenaw County and A2 are holding back to save money at the risk of killing those who pay their livelihoods. Side roads and back roads have not been plowed at all which is a joke. Secondly, there should be a law that all vehicles licensed in the state of Michigan must have snow tires on them as of Dec 1st each and every year and they don't come off the vehicle until March 15th. There should be a stiff fine for those that don't comply. Driving without snow tires in wintertime is reckless, pure and simple.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 4:42 p.m.

Haven't even heard a plow truck in my neighborhood - West side of Ann Arbor around Maple/Miller area - Once I saw the snow removal update page, I just had to blog about it -


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Like I said in my post, the trucks need to use SAND. The point is that the trucks need to be out there putting down the sand. Cindy, thanks for the response re: city trucks. What is a "major road" and what is a "residential street"? Major "streets" such as Plymouth, Huron, Fuller, Maple, etc., have been a mess for two days. These are emergency routes. Does the city consider these "major roads" or residential streets"? If they are considered major roads, then why weren't they cleared sooner? 14 trucks doesn't sound like enough for the entire city of A2. I'd like an example of what the city considers a "major road" and a "residential street."

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

is the road commission taking credit for clearing the subdivision roads? our sub was cleared nice and wide yesterday (monday) morning. there was a privately owned 'gravel' hauler spreading salt throughout too. we pay hoa dues, this goes towards private snow removal too. again, like i said in previous post, salt is ineffective when it is this cold.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

peoples, salt is INEFFECTIVE when it is this cold out. i'd much rather drive on snow covered roads (snow on top of ice) than just cleared ice. what the municipalities need to do is put sand down. sand...sand...sand


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

It is nice that the city has trucks out. Both the roads and drivers were better on Tuesday than they were on Monday. It would also be nice if they updated their Ann Arbor Snow Plow Status map. The last update was a test back in February.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

There really is no excuse for the primary city streets to still be icy and covered with snow, since it stopped snowing on Sunday night. This is Tuesday. Why aren't the city trucks putting down sand on the main streets? How many plows does the city of A2 own? How many salt trucks? I am appalled at the poor response to this first storm of the season.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

The roads and driving were much better than yesterday, thought they didn't rise to the level of great. The temps are so cold, that the salt is not able to work its magic. Perhaps we should have a salt/sand mixture for conditions such as these. As an aside, I was quite pleased to see how the vast majority of folks were driving during this mess. There are still some fools, but one can't hope for perfection from the humans.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 10:07 a.m.

I drive a night route and found some of the roads this morning more hazardous than they were yesterday. Many of the areas that were glazed this morning had been salted earlier. The blowing and drifting following the snowfall recovered many previously cleared areas and I believe the combination of plowing, previously salting leading to some melting, and later stiff, cold winds all combined to result in this morning's glazing.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

"Even the stretch of Huron River Drive between I-94 and the State Police Station was treacherous." I drove that stretch yesterday and it was truly ridiculous. There was no salt put down at all and traffic was seriously backed up. There was no excuse for there not being salt on that stretch even in these economic times. In general it was the worst response to a winter storm I've seen in years (including Washtenaw and Wayne county).


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.

I find the comment regarding clearing subdivision streets highly ironic as the primary roads south of I-94 in eastern Washtenaw County still were ice covered this morning. Even the stretch of Huron River Drive between I-94 and the State Police Station was treacherous. I-94 east bound at the Southfield Expressway is covered in ice for nearly one mile. The remainder of I-94 between Ypsilanti and Detroit was OK with speeds sometimes limited to only 40mph. I-75 north bound from downtown Detroit to Eight Mile/Nine Mile was ice covered and slow moving, ~30mph.