Mid-February snowstorm lead to hazardous conditions in Waterford

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Miriam Bingham takes a trip outside to explain the winter weather conditions in Waterford Township.

During the third week of February, winter storm weather advisories are being issued for portions of Southeast Michigan.

The advisory-affected areas are experiencing the state’s normal winter weather conditions. However, the chilling temperatures and inches of snow have caused hazardous conditions for commuters in Waterford Township. For the first time of the season, the winter storm has given Waterford residents the red flag to bundle up and drive slowly.

Preparations for temperatures below zero

Richard Pollman, a warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS for Walled Lake Area, is part of the coordination team who issues all weather warnings and advisories for Southeast Michigan.

Pollman explained how dressing appropriately will help during a wind chill advisory.

“We hear about wind chill, right?” said Pollman. Wind chill is when wind blows across exposed skin, carries your body heat away and that leaves a chill on your exposed hand. While if you wear a glove, you won’t feel the effects of wind chill.”

Pollman explains “frostbite.”

“Obviously, people are going to have to go out and do some things. If you do go outside, we just need people to be prepared. Dress appropriately for the season, wear layers, and that will help with the hypothermia.” 

Road conditions and public safety

Hours after the snowstorm, Waterford back roads are covered in snow. RCOC worked hard during the snowstorm to get many roads plowed and cleared.

Miriam Bingham

Hours after the snowstorm, Waterford back roads are covered in snow. RCOC worked hard during the snowstorm to get many roads plowed and cleared.

After hours of snow piling up overnight, Waterford roads were covered in 8 inches of snow.  The Road Commission for Oakland County is in charge of the winter operations to keep the township’s public roads safe.  A full staff of 106 RCOC truck drivers prepared their trucks and plowed roads all night long in time for the anticipated winter snowstorm.

Craig Bryson, the senior communications manager at RCOC, explained how temperatures affected the process of road cleanup in Waterford. “The temperatures overnight were so low that the salt wouldn’t really do any good, so we were just plowing,” said Bryson.“When the temperatures rose, that’s when we began to put down the salt. In Waterford, there are many subdivisions and it will take us a while to get into all of them and get them all plowed and cleared.”

Bryson advised safe driving for future hazardous winter conditions. “Slow down, take your time, don’t tailgate,” said Bryson. “It’s not worth it to go faster than the conditions allow.”

Freezing temperatures and power outages

Although, Waterford faced temperatures below zero, no power outages were caused by this overnight storm. Andrew M. Bono, a strategist of emergency preparedness and storm management at DTE Energy, explained how it isn’t common to see a power outage because of a Michigan winter storm. “For the outages in Oakland County, we don’t typically see outages caused by large snowstorms,” said Bono. “The largest threat we face in winter are strong wind or ice events.”

Future forecasts

It will need to snow a few more inches before the weather reaches spring status.

“We’re going to start to moderate our temperatures,” said Pollman.  “Sunday night, that’s our next snow event and that snow event is probably going to be a couple of inches maybe enough for us to issue a winter weather advisory. But what that snow is going to bring in is warm air. We just have to get through 2-5 inches of snow on Sunday night first.”

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