Early spring snowstorm causes accidents in Manistee County

MANISTEE COUNTY — Snow had not fallen in Manistee County for nearly three weeks.

Then a storm forecasted days in advance hit on Wednesday night, bringing sleet, freezing rain and many inches of snow on Thursday, much to the chagrin of people like Manistee resident Brian Allen.

“I think about July and August and Lake Michigan. That’s why I live here, because I love it,” Allen said while shoveling snow. “That little reward of the seasons gets me through the disappointing days like this.”

Snowfall varied widely across Northern Michigan as a storm system blew through late Wednesday, stretching into Thursday and today.

In Manistee, between 3 and 5 inches of snow fell, bringing with it freezing rain, sleet and wind.

Jim Keysor, National Weather Service meteorologist, said areas near Charlevoix and Cheboygan saw between 6 and 10 inches of snow, while Traverse City topped out at about 3 inches. He told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that areas further south near M-55 received freezing rain instead of fluffy flakes.

Due to the weather, multiple accidents occurred throughout Manistee County.

Manistee County undersheriff John O’Hagan said the following collisions occurred:

  • 8:18 a.m. Thursday on M-22 and Miller Road;
  • 10:14 a.m. Thursday on Healy Lake Road in Bear Lake; and
  • 10:24 a.m. Thursday on the 1800 block of Eastlake Road in front of Martin Marietta.

O’Hagan said the wet snow, combined with borderline-freezing temperatures, created a tendency for the slush to pull vehicles around on the road.

“Those are the types of accidents we’re seeing now, is people are losing control,” O’Hagan said. “This is typical Michigan weather.”

He advised drivers to make sure they slow down when necessary, and to make sure other things are in working order, such as appropriate air pressure in tires.

“That can play a big difference too if you don’t have proper pressure in your tires,” O’Hagan said. “If you start to lose control, what’s the first thing people want to do? They want to hit that break and start to steer. Well, you should actually start to steer in the direction you want to go without the breaking.”

He also mentioned that having good tread on tires helps prevent accidents as well.

Manistee County sheriff’s deputy Travis Wheaton responded to the scene of the accident near Martin Marietta.

“(The vehicle) lost control on the slush, spun out and hit the pole,” Wheaton said.

He said the vehicle sustained damage and that the driver, a Manistee resident, was transported to West Shore Medical Center with undisclosed injuries.

Meanwhile, in the City of Manistee, no reported accidents occurred, according to Manistee Police officer Jeff Pefley.

“Everybody’s been driving pretty well in the city today,” Pefley said. “The roads have been kept clean.”

In a news release Thursday, Great Lakes Energy (GLE) communications director David Guzniczak said lost power was restored to 10,000 GLE customers since the start of the storm.

However an estimated 1,580 members remained without power late Thursday afternoon in 11 counties served by the electric cooperative due to power line damage caused by the storm.

Most of the remaining outages were in parts of Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola counties where storm damage is the most severe. Smaller, scattered outages are also affecting GLE members in parts of Emmet, Kent, Manistee, Montcalm and Muskegon counties.

All available Great Lakes Energy service crews are being assisted by privately-contracted line repair and tree-trimming crews in the restoration work.

Overnight Thursday into Friday, between 3-5 inches of snow were forecast to fall, while today’s forecast calls for temperatures in the high 30s and cloudy skies.

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Posted by Sean Bradley

Sean is the city and cops and courts reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the entertainment and Reasons to Celebrate pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3109 or sbradley@pioneergroup.com.

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