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Tag Archive | "winter storm"

Winter storm puts us in deep freeze



This was the scene in Cedar Springs this week due to a winter sotrm. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Michigan and many states in the Midwest have been in a cold weather pattern over the last six days that has gotten progressively worse: we have had icy rain, sleet, snow, blowing and drifting, zero visibility, temperatures below zero, and wind chills as low as -30. 

On Monday we had a winter storm and on Tuesday we transitioned to lake effect snow. We were already experiencing frigid temperatures and a foot of new snow when the Polar Vortex descended on us Tuesday night and sent temperatures plunging even further below zero. There were dozens of crashes on roads Wednesday and several parts of the highways were shut down.

According to local meteorologists, we haven’t experienced these types of temperatures since 1994.

With meteorologists and the state of Michigan telling people to stay off the roads, hundreds of schools have been canceled all week; colleges and universities have shut down the last few days; state, county and local offices have shut down; along with hundreds of businesses. The Postal Service even stopped delivering mail Tuesday and Wednesday. The governor has declared a state of emergency. 

Check out two stories on page three that will help you stay safe and warm during cold weather, and give you some tips on using space heaters and keeping your pipes from freezing.

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Winter storm and frigid temps hit area


An early January winter storm over the weekend and bitterly cold temperatures Monday through Wednesday made travel hazardous and caused hundreds of schools and businesses to close in West Michigan.

Besides ice and snow, we saw temperatures below zero, with wind chill as cold as 20 below. The ice crystals freezing in the air did cause a winter phenomenon not often seen here—a sun dog, or snow rainbow. It’s caused when the sun’s light refracts through ice crystals in the atmosphere. We received photos from several residents in the Cedar Springs/Sand Lake area that saw it Tuesday morning. (See photos above.)

Meteorologists are now predicting that we could get ½ to an 1” of rain on Friday, and with all the snow, it won’t have anywhere to go, and could freeze on Saturday, making travel difficult for Sunday morning.

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PREPARING FOR A WINTER STORM


At home:
Keep handy a battery-powered flashlight,  portable radio, extra food (canned or dried food is best), can opener, and bottled water (at least 3 gallons per person).
Make sure each member of the household has a warm coat, gloves, hat and water-resistant boots.  Ensure extra blankets and heavy clothes are available.
Keep on hand items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
Keep on hand items for your pets.  Animals feel the effects of wind chill.  Be sure to have suitable shelter with food and water.
Be aware of potential fire and carbon monoxide hazards if you plan to use an emergency heating source such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater.
Outside:
Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow.  Sweating could lead to chill and hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature. Cold weather also puts extra strain on the heart, so the elderly and those with heart conditions should be especially cautious when out in the cold.
Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight warm clothing in layers, with a waterproof outer layer.  Wear a wool hat and mittens.
Keep your clothes dry.  Change wet socks and clothing quickly to prevent loss of body heat.
Understand the hazards of wind chill.  As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body more rapidly which could lead to severe hypothermia.
Automotive preparedness:
Be sure the vehicle is winterized by late fall.  This includes having the proper mix of antifreeze and water in the cooling system, topping off the windshield washing solution, and checking the tire treads.  Have a mechanic check the belts, hoses, tires, battery, and coolant.
Keep the fuel tank near full, as low fuel levels can cause condensation to form, degrading fuel quality and possibly causing the fuel line to freeze.  Additionally, gas stations may be closed during a severe winter storm, so it is wise to fill up if storm warnings are being broadcasted.
Your car should always be equipped with emergency supplies.  Keep the following items stored in a portable container:
•    A small battery powered radio (AM is sufficient) and extra batteries
•    Flashlight with extra batteries
•    Cellular phone
•    Windshield scraper
•    Jumper cables
•    Fire extinguisher
•    Maps
•    Shovel
•    Blanket and extra clothes
•    Flares
•    Bottled water and nonperishable, high energy foods (granola bars, canned nuts, raisins, hard candy, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers)
•    First aid kit
•    Tire repair kit and pump
•    Tow chain or rope
•    Phone book and phone list
•    De-icer and extra antifreeze
•     “Call Police” or other “Help” sign

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DURING A WINTER STORM


At home:
•    To save heat close off unneeded rooms, cover windows at night and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
•    Maintain adequate food and water intake. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
If travel is necessary:
•    Use caution when driving in winter conditions.  The highest rate of traffic crashes due to winter weather is in the month of November when the snow first starts to fall over Michigan.
•    Inform someone of your destination and travel time.  Bring a cell phone in case you must call for help.
If traveling and the power goes out:
•    Use extreme caution when driving.  If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign—come to a complete stop at every intersection and look for oncoming traffic before proceeding.
•    Do not call 9-1-1 to ask about the power outage.  Listen to news radio stations for updates and contact your electrical company.
If stranded in a vehicle:
•    Do not leave your vehicle.
•    Do not park under an overpass or bridge as this can trap deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
•    Attach a bright cloth to your antenna to attract attention.
•    Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat. Open the window slightly for fresh air and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
•    Attract attention by turning on the dome light and emergency flashers when running the engine.
•    To keep blood circulating and to stay warm, exercise by moving arms, legs, fingers and toes.
If stranded outside:
•    Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of the body.
•    Prepare a windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.  Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
Do not eat snow because it will lower your body temperature.  Melt it first.

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Winter storm dumps more snow


The scene on US131 at the Jefferson/Morley exit Sunday during the snowstorm.

The last traces of the late January blizzard were just melting away when Mother Nature dealt us another blast on Sunday, February 20 and into the early morning hours of Monday.

Heavy snow, winds, sleet and freezing rain made traveling dangerous, and caused accidents on US131 near the Morley/Jefferson Road exit Sunday afternoon that involved 50-60 cars. The highway was shut down for several hours during the cleanup.

According to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, the Cedar Springs, Sparta, Sand Lake area received 8-10 inches of new snow. Schools across the area were closed both Monday and Tuesday.

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