By Richie Carni
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
EAST LANSING—The abnormal weather has made for a very cold start to 2014, and the frigid temperatures sweeping the area are making a significant impression on local businesses.
Heavy snowfall and icy conditions have led to difficult commutes, school delays and university closings statewide. The graph, compiled using data from Accuweather.com, shows the daily temperatures in East Lansing from Jan. 1 to Feb. 6.
East Lansing residents have been exposed to temperatures in the teens and twenties for 25 of the 37 days, and saw temperatures higher than 40 degrees only twice.
Josh Dekker, a service manager at East Lansing Auto Pros, said the chilly weather has both helped and hurt his business.
“We were shut down one day because of the snow and there have been days where it was tough to get work done. But at the same time this extreme cold is taking batteries out and causing a lot of people to need repairs,” Dekker said.
Dekker said colder temperatures over long periods of time have a lot of potential to cause electrical problems in automobiles. Spark plugs and starter mechanisms can be damaged by extremely cold conditions.
“As a whole, I would say that winter is a busier time of the year for automobile repairs. Winter brings out the best in cars I think,” Dekker joked.
Josh Clayton, owner of H&H Mobile Fuels, Service & Towing, said he has seen a significant increase in towing requests over the last two months due to the weather.
“It has been good for business. We have been very busy the last two months. We have an around the clock business as it is with our towing service, and we have had to make some adjustments,” Clayton said.
Clayton also offered his advice to students and commuters who are forced to brave the elements.
“The best thing you can do is just slow down.” Clayton said. “Make sure that your car is well equipped for the conditions as well with snow tires and other basic auto repairs.”
Clayton also said it is important to be well equipped for commuting in colder weather.
“Something else people can do is to make sure they have some kind of safety kit in their cars in case of an emergency,” Clayton said.
Pedro Valdez, an officer with the East Lansing Police Department, said that call volumes regarding car accidents and other traffic related incidents have increased with the freezing temperatures. Valdez also said that drivers, not just the cold weather, are to blame for that increase.
“I think it is a mix between the weather and the actual drivers. I don’t think that enough people take the extra time to commute in these conditions,“ Valdez said, adding that “…a lot of people think that they can still go the speed limit in these conditions, but the traffic lights and downhill terrain in this weather make it difficult stop safely.”
East Lansing residents can expect to see more of the same weather in the near future, as The Weather Channel website reports that temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid-twenties until Valentine’s Day.