W. MI hit with slushy snow, rain and gusty winds

Snow in Plainwell. (Courtesy Ed Roblyer via Facebook)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Heavy, wet snow created slushy and slippery conditions as it mixed with rain on Thursday morning, causing some traffic trouble. The snow accumulating on power lines and tree branches plus strong winds also led to some power outages.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said one woman was killed in a crash on M-43 in Oshtemo Township on Thursday morning. Authorities say speed and road conditions were factors.

Additionally, the sheriff’s office said several vehicles became stuck in deep snow on northbound US-131 after M-43 (Exit 38) just north of the business loop. The northbound lanes were shut down for more than an hour before reopening around 5:45 a.m.

>>Traffic conditions

At South Haven on Thursday afternoon, sustained north-northwest winds of 30 mph contributed to eight-foot waves with 30-foot spray.

“This is the angriest I’ve ever seen it and I’ve lived here for 40-some years,” South Haven resident Joe Foster said of the lake.

In St. Joseph, waves were 14 feet.

The wind should die down overnight.

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Computer model forecasts of snow amounts varied widely with this storm system — anywhere from zero to more than one foot of snow in Grand Rapids. As of Thursday afternoon, most areas in West Michigan had seen less than an inch of snow, but a large chunk of Barry County saw between three and five inches and between two and three inches fell in the Kalamazoo area.

There are a number of factors to consider when forecasting for a snow storm this time of year:

  • High sun angle resulting in more energy from the sun;
  • Warm and moist soil resisting snow accumulation;
  • Heavy snow pack across the Upper Peninsula and western Ontario, allowing cold air masses to better survive in lower Michigan;
  • High water content snowfalls with snow to liquid ratios near 6:1 or 8:1 rather than 10:1 or 12:1 with colder storms.


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