May 26 • 05:22 AM

Area snagged in icy grip

Snow, frigid temperatures glaze roads, prompt power outages

Though the sun is bright, the temperatures are barely above the single digits as Imlay City DPW worker clears downtown streets Monday morning. The icy grip that’s closed schools and kept many residents off the roads is expected to last through the week. photo by Tom Wearing.

December 15, 2010
TRI-CITY AREA — Sand and sun will be the first two things to make area roads more passable, says Rick Pearson of the Lapeer County Road Commission.

"The sun will be our biggest ally in getting this ice melted," Pearson said on Tuesday, two days after a blizzard-like storm hit the Tri-City area.

"The salt is just doing nothing at the moment. We are mixing quite a bit of sand with the salt to get some traction out there for drivers."

Treacherous driving conditions caused school districts to cancel classes both Monday and Tuesday. Six inches of snow, single-digit temperatures and strong winds swept into town on Sunday in what would turn out to be a record-breaking storm for December.

Lapeer County Undersheriff Bob Rapson said deputies were busy Sunday and Monday with weather-related calls and he anticipated that would continue.

"I expect we'll get more serious accidents today," Rapson said on Tuesday morning.

"There's a glaze of ice on the roads and folks seem to be traveling much faster than they were on Monday."

Rapson commended the road commission for their efforts, considering the harsh elements they had to deal with.

"We're advising residents that if you don't have to go out, just sit tight until road conditions improve," Rapson said.

Due to the size of his staff, Pearson said he hasn't been able to keep plow trucks on the road around the clock.

"We just don't have enough bodies. The guys spent 16 hours in the truck on Sunday," Pearson said.

The severity of the storm isn't typical for December, both Pearson and Rapson noted.

"This is a typical January or February event. We're hoping it's burned itself out for the year," Pearson said.

On Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for St. Clair County due to blowing snow which limited visibility for drivers. To the north, blizzard warnings were issued for Sanilac and Huron counties and residents were told that travel would be "hazardous if not impossible."

The weather service estimated that close to six inches of snow fell across Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

Temperatures only warmed up to about 12 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday afternoon in the Tri-City area while the wind chill stood at -4 degrees. Gusts up to 23 miles an hour were recorded at the St. Clair International Airport.

DTE Energy reported scattered power outages in St. Clair County as of Monday afternoon. A large swath of homes and businesses along Capac Rd. in Berlin Twp. were reportedly were still without power on Tuesday morning.

Forecasters are calling for little relief in the coming days. Temperatures won't top out in the mid-20s until Friday, then a chance for more snow showers returns.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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