From sunshine to snowfall: City gears up for upcoming winter weather

MANISTEE — This month has brought plenty of warm weather to the area, however local residents are now preparing for the inevitable drop in temperature and snow fall that hits each winter season.

The city has a sign posted along Maple Street warning residents and visitors about the alternate parking ordinance from Nov. 15 until April 15. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

The city has a sign posted along Maple Street warning residents and visitors about the alternate parking ordinance, from Nov. 15 until April 15. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

As snow showers head toward Manistee in the coming weeks, local law enforcement is reminding residents to check the weather conditions before driving and to travel according to the road conditions.

Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said during the winter season, traffic crashes surge in numbers, with the frequency of winter weather leaving roads coated with ice, slush and snow.

The first snowfall comes as a shock to many drivers, as residents may not be prepared for Mother Nature’s wintry surprise.

“Many of the accidents are minor in nature, that includes leaving the roadway and ending up in the ditch,” said O’Hagan. “By far, the first snow definitely catches even the best of drivers off guard a little bit.”

As the roads often can be unpredictable, O’Hagan reminds drivers to watch out for black ice, and expect a change in temperatures throughout the day.

Many of the reported crashes, he said, are due to drivers traveling too fast for the road’s conditions.

“Many crashes happen with the change in temperature, especially when there is precipitation and the temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark,” he said. “The ice is clear and looks transparent with the black road underneath, so the road typically looks fine; however, it can be very dangerous. Black ice is the culprit in a variety of the accidents reported.”

During the winter season, O’Hagan said the staff also has to prepare for long hours, along with the surplus of winter traffic crashes.

“When the weather person predicts a fairly significant snowfall, we try and accommodate with personnel to handle the increase call load,” he said. “We may call shifts in early or post overtime to be able to take care of the increased workload, even if it is only short lived.”

City officials are also gearing up for the winter season.

When snowfall hits the streets, the City of Manistee Department of Public Works (DPW) starts removing snow, while the city enforces an alternate parking ordinance.

According to the DPW, plowing typically commences during the following weather conditions :

  • When two or more inches of snow or slush has made driving conditions hazardous, blading is completed to remove the material from the driving lane. Sand and salt is placed on the road surface;
  • Freezing rain is treated with a mixture of sand and salt; and
  • Drifting snow accumulating to about four to six inches is plowed.

From now until April 15, the alternate parking system will be enforced 24-hours a day, seven days a week and on all city streets. The change-over time will be from 4 p.m. through 7 p.m., allowing residents and visitors to switch their vehicle for the upcoming day.

Exceptions are on streets posted: “No Parking 3 a.m. until 7 a.m.” – this area is located in the downtown business district.

On even dates, residents should park on the even-numbered side of the street (north and west side of the street), and on odd dates residents should park on the odd-numbered side of the street (south and east side of the street).

Sgt. Steve Schmeling, with the City of Manistee Police Department, said the alternate parking ordinance is strictly enforced, whether or not snow has fallen.

“We write several hundred tickets a year,” said Schmeling. “It’s definitely something that’s enforced. The situation is not about whether we have snow, because we can’t predict that, but we encourage people to follow the ordinance every single day. ”

Fines for violating the alternate parking ordinance are $40, if paid within 14 days. After 14 days the fine is $100. If not paid within the additional 14 days, the citation is turned over to a collection agency.

For those with any questions on alternate parking, contact the Manistee City Police Department at (231) 723-2533. With questions on snow removal, contact Jeff Mikula, DPW director, at (231) 723-7132.

When traveling in winter weather conditions, O’Hagan said drivers should follow these safety tips:

  • Be prepared; Make sure your vehicle is in the best shape like ensuring the car has the proper mix of antifreeze, sufficient tire treads and battery;
  • Carry emergency supplies like a flashlight, phone, batteries, jumper cables, brush/scraper, fire extinguisher, blanket, extra clothes, water, first aid kit, flares and a shovel;
  • Keep the gas tank near full, as low levels can build up condensation and cause troubles;
  • Check the National Weather Service weather forecasts for advisories, watches and warnings of snow and or ice accumulations;
  • Do not forget to use a seat belt; and
  • Make sure your vehicle is inspected before winter.
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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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