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Prepare for major winter storm

The Michigan Departments of State Police (MSP) and Transportation (MDOT) are reminding citizens to take the necessary precautions to stay safe during the major winter storm expected to hit Michigan beginning Tuesday. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a blizzard warning for Central and Lower Michigan from midday Tuesday through Wednesday, and a winter storm warning for upper central and northern Michigan.

With the possibility of heavy snowfall and high winds, citizens should have essential supplies ready to stay safe at home, at work, and in their vehicles.  In addition, road conditions may be significantly impacted requiring motorists to drive with extra caution, allow additional time to travel and provide ample space for first responders and snowplows.

“The recent weather in the Northeast and in Canada serves as a reminder that significant snowfall can strand motorists along the roadway,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP and State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  “To stay safe, citizens should prepare now by ensuring they have an adequate supply of essential items readily available including food, water, blankets, flashlights and a full-tank of gas.”

“With the amount of snow we expect along with high winds that can cause drifting, motorists must remember to drive with caution no matter how much salt we use or how often the roads are plowed,” said state Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “The secret to safety is anticipating what the road conditions will be like and adjusting your speed accordingly. Taking more time to get to your destination can make a big difference, too, sometimes between life and death.”

Personnel with the MSP Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) are actively monitoring the situation and are working in coordination with the NWS to receive ongoing weather updates.  If the situation warrants, all state departments are ready to respond as necessary.

Citizens are reminded to:

  • Prepare a 72-hour emergency supply kit that includes essential items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, blankets, flashlights with extra batteries and emergency contact information.
  • Stay tuned to local media outlets for the most up-to-date weather conditions and any emergency information.
  • Check on neighbors and loved ones to ensure they are safe, especially the elderly and those requiring special care.
  • Stay inside during the storm.  If you must go outside, wear several layers of lightweight clothing that will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wearing gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.

Travel safety tips:

  • If you must travel, carry an emergency supply kit in your vehicle with essential items and let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Check road conditions before traveling by visiting the MSP Winter Travel Advisory website at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions.
  • Always wear your safety belt and allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • To remain focused on driving, motorists should not text or talk on cell phones while they are behind the wheel.
  • Snowplows have limited visibility and drivers cannot see behind their trucks.
  • Snowplows often throw up snow clouds, reducing availability on all sides of the truck.
  • Motorists should never attempt to pass a moving snowplow on the right. With new wing-plow technology, the blade can clear the shoulder and the lane of travel simultaneously. Motorists attempting an illegal pass through a snow cloud on the right and/or shoulder of the road most likely won’t see the plow blade and run the risk of a serious crash.
  • Provide first responders with ample space by moving over one lane, if possible.

Additional safety tips are available on the MSP/EMHSD website at www.michigan.gov/emhsd and on the MDOT website at www.michigan.gov/mdot.

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