Deep freeze descends upon Genesee County

Snowstorm cleanup hindered by -12 degree temps

GENESEE COUNTY – A day after much of the county was shutdown due to a record 17 inch snowfall, a cold snap settled on the area bringing -12 degree temperatures and frostbite risks to thosestill trying to dig out from the snow.

What is being called the third heaviest snowfall in recorded history for the county brought as many as  17 inches of snow, blowing and drifting and sub zero temperatures between Jan. 4-6. 

Deadly cold temperatures then followed Jan. 7, shutting down schools and many other services and businesses throughout Genesee County.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder provided an evening update on the severe winter weather affecting the state, announcing he partially activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center as of 8 p.m., Jan. 5, in abundance of caution and due to the historic nature of National Weather Service predictions. 

A partial activation means that key emergency management personnel from essential state agencies will report to the center, bolstering the strongest, seamless coordination with local officials and available 24-7 to respond to local requests if needed.

Snyder also announced some state offices would be closed Jan. 6, in cooperation with local municipalities, who are closing offices to assist with local storm operations and snow removal.

“The heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures have combined to create hazardous conditions in many areas of the state,” Snyder said. “Public health and safety is our primary concern. Residents should heed advisories and stay off the roads if at all possible. State authorities continue to monitor the situation closely while sharing information and coordinating with communities.”

In Genesee County, many local municipal offices were closed Monday and governmental meetings were cancelled. At about 10 a.m. Monday, police closed I-475 near the I-69 interchange due to vehicles stuck in drifting snow there.

One report indicated police and emergency personnel were on foot trying to assist motorists there. Police agencies across Genesee County were reporting highway on and off ramps snow covered and impassable in some locations. John Daly of the Genesee County Road Commission said over night about 11 of the counties 51 trucks were out clearing roads.

Most drivers were taken off the roads overnight because most had already worked 14 hours straight trying to keep up with the snow. Garbage pickup in most communities, if scheduled for Monday, was moved to Tuesday.

Sean Cramer of Swartz Creek drives a snowplow for Illumiscape Lawncare in Grand Blanc. He was on the job at 6 a.m. Sunday and, after a quick nap early Monday morning, was back at it at 4 a.m., traveling the Grand Blanc and Swartz Creek areas.

“It’s absurd,” said Cramer. “It’s reminiscent of the last snow emergency in 2000, when school was closed for six days. It’s pretty nasty. “Hill Road is bad. Maple Road is bad. There are some wicked drifts, drifts like crazy, and piles 20 feet high. We need more places to put snow.”

Though snowed in at home on his third official day on the job, Swartz Creek City Manager Adam Zettel was keeping track of what was happening in the city.

“I think a lot of people really saw this coming far enough in advance that they’ve been keeping trips to a minimum,” said Zettel. “The roads are definitely terrible, terrible this morning, but a lot of people are avoiding it.”

As of late Monday morning, there had been no problems with cars getting stuck in deep snow and blocking roadways, he said. “We had our police in a 4-by-4 yesterday to make sure they could get out,” he said. “Our (Department of Public Services) crews have been at it as much as they can, given their numbers. We expect the city to be pretty much cleaned up today.”

Trash collection in the city is delayed until Tuesday.

Davison City Manager Michael Hart ordered municipal offices closed Monday. The Genesee District Library was also closed.

Also in Davison, Department of Public Works Supervisor Ed Brown said Sunday his staff would be working not only to clear streets, but to repair a water main break on Clark Street.

“Please know the guys are working very hard to try and keep the streets plowed but because of the amount of snow are small trucks are getting stuck on the local (streets),” he said in a statement on the city’s Facebook page. “So it may take a little time, but we will get there, and add to the snow we are also repairing a water main break on Clark Street. So if we have not been there rest assured we will be there.”

The National Weather Service forecast for the rest of the day is a winter weather advisory until 10 p.m. with a wind chill warning in effect today until 7 a.m.,Wednesday. The winter storm warning is cancelled but wind chills will drop between 15-25 below zero this afternoon, bottoming out at about -30 degrees tonight into Tuesday morning.

There will be high winds with more blowing and drifting snow. Lake effect snow will bring another 1-2 inches. — By Gary Gould and LaNia Rocha

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