Office of Highway Safety Planning warns of treacherous road conditions during upcoming storm

MDOT advised the following tips if travel is absolutely necessary:

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"Be careful on the roads as weather conditions continue to change," the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning stated via Twitter. "Michigan State Police warns of harsh conditions ahead of winter storm."

"Be careful on the roads as weather conditions continue to change," the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning stated via Twitter. "Michigan State Police warns of harsh conditions ahead of winter storm."

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On Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Highway Safety and Planning warned of the major storm coming Thursday with heavy rains, sleet and more than six-inch snowfalls around the state impacting travel across much of the state through Friday morning. 

"This storm has the potential for multiple different hazards, with rain, sleet and snow in the forecast," Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police, said in a press release issued on Wednesday. "Michiganders need to prepare for quickly-changing road conditions over the next few days and potentially dangerous conditions throughout the day Thursday."

To prepare, motorists can use Mi Drive, created by the Michigan Department of Transportation, for up-to-date construction and travel information.

Drivers can expect limited visibility and icy roads since temperatures dropped Wednesday night refreezing anything that melted. Secondary roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots will be particularly hazardous, according to the National Weather Service.

"Use caution when traveling," the NWS stated in a Facebook post. "Slow down and be prepared to stop early. '4 wheel drive' does not equal '4 way stop!'"

"This is the second round of severe winter weather just this month for the southern part of our state and we want to thank first responders and road crews for their continued efforts to keep us safe," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a recent press release. 

"This is the second round of severe winter weather just this month for the southern part of our state and we want to thank first responders and road crews for their continued efforts to keep us safe," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a recent press release. 

Graphic provided/NWS

Parts of the state, including the southeast and Thumb regions, will see accumulating snow throughout the day Thursday. Winds above 40 miles per hour could also make driving difficult, the NWS stated, while causing snow to blow and drift.

Additionally, the NWS issued a winter storm warning for southeast Michigan, including Midland and Huron Counties, in effect from 3 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday as a period of freezing rain and sleet Thursday afternoon mainly south of I-94 is likely. 

As far as snowplow safety goes, the Michigan State Police is urging residents to give drivers plenty of room to clear snow from the roads. If a driver encounters a plow or maintenance vehicle during travel, they are reminded to slow down, increase following distance and remain patient. Drivers are advised not to attempt to pass, as conditions will be worst in front of the plow than behind it.

MDOT advised the following tips if travel is necessary:

  • If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, apply steady brake pressure to avoid skidding. Pumping your brakes is recommended only for vehicles without anti-lock brakes.
  • Posted speed limits are generally good guidelines, but motorists would be wise to slow to a safe speed if roads are treacherous or if visibility is limited.
  • Merge slowly since sudden movements may cause vehicles to skid.
  • Motorists should take extra caution on bridges as they may be icy even when the approaching pavement is clear and dry.

During the 2016 to 2020 winter seasons, there were 202,232 crashes reported in Michigan on icy, snowy or slushy roads, resulting in 370 fatalities and 2,530 suspected serious injuries, according to the MSP.

For more information about how to stay safe during winter weather, look at this Cold Health and Safety Fact Sheet created by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit www.michigan.gov/miready.