Record cold temps, snow, shut down county

January 31, 2019

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Arctic cold along with a major winter storm dropped on Michigan and the Midwest this week causing hazardous driving conditions and warnings of frostbite over the whole state and prompting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to declare a State of Emergency.

As of Thursday morning, schools in the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education School District (RESD) have closed between 10 and 12 days so far this year, with another day likely according to school officials.

The Clare Police Department offered the use of their department Humvee to deliver meals to seniors on the treacherous roads. Photo courtesy of CPD

The Clare Police Department offered the use of their department Humvee to deliver meals to seniors on the treacherous roads.
Photo courtesy of CPD

Winter storm Jayden’s 13 to 15 inch snowfall earlier this week coupled with temperatures below zero and wind chill factors dropping the thermometers even more have caused numerous minor accidents around the area due to treacherous driving conditions in Clare and surrounding counties.

Clare County Road Commission trucks were working overtime to keep the roads clear. Additional information from the CCRC was not available.

Most schools, colleges, municipal buildings and some businesses closed their doors as well.

As of Wednesday, weather related school closures have numbered ten for Beaverton and Farwell schools and nine for Gladwin and Clare. A late August power outage brought Beaverton’s total 11 days that school has closed. Mid Michigan College closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Central Michigan University closed Monday and Wednesday due to the storm and frigid temperatures, and announced Wednesday that the campus would also close on Thursday.

Mid Michigan College also posted they would be closed Thursday. By Wednesday afternoon all the RESD schools had posted that they would be closed for another day due to the frigid temperatures and icy roads.

Clare County Emergency Management Director Jerry Becker said Tuesday, “Clare County experienced a winter storm even that started late Sunday evening/early Monday morning lasting throughout Monday and into Tuesday. This storm dumped anywhere from 13 to 15 inches of snow across mid-Michigan.”

He continued, “This storm is continuing with winds and single digit temperatures which are creating hazardous driving and outdoor exposure conditions across

Plow drivers were working overtime to keep roads cleared as winter storm Jayden dumped 12 to 15 inches of snow on the area, with higher snowfall recorded south of mid-Michigan. File Photo

Plow drivers were working overtime to keep roads cleared as winter storm Jayden dumped 12 to 15 inches of snow on the area, with higher snowfall recorded south of mid-Michigan.
File Photo

the State of Michigan. Frostbite exposure times from now through Thursday are 15 minutes or less on exposed skin.”

“Winds are expected to be from 15-20 miles per hours causing the light snow to drift and a wind chill warning to be issued for much of mid-Michigan,” he added.
Becker said preparation for the storm began Sunday with weather briefings from NOAA attended by he and Sheriff John Wilson. He said they made calls to various agencies including the County Courthouse administration and court officials recommending they close Monday.

The courthouse was closed Monday through Wednesday.

Becker added that other closures included the Health Department, local government offices, libraries, schools and MMC and eventually, the State of Michigan offices.

He said by Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer had declared a State of Emergency for the extreme cold temperatures. He said, “At this time Clare County is not planning on declaring a State of Emergency.

The National Weather Service posted a warning Tuesday. “Dangerous travel through Wednesday especially near/west of U.S. 131; near blizzard conditions with frequent whiteouts; conditions continue to be favorable for multi-car pileups and highway closures; stay home if possible!; frostbite risk high; snow shoveling tonight into Wednesday is dangerous with the frostbite risk; rivers and streams not normally prone to ice jamming may be at risk this week and beyond.”

They predicted a “rapid warmup this weekend, which plus rainfall is a concern for possible ice breakup.”

The post continued that this period is “the coldest temperatures since 1994 in most areas.”

Clare Police Chief Brian Gregory posted on Wednesday, “Due to the horrific weather, Clare County meals on wheels were unable to safely travel around the county roads. Chief Gregory offered up the assistance of their department Humvee and an officer to assist in getting meals delivered to seniors.

According to 9 & 10 News the Clare County Sheriff’s Office stepped up to deliver around 84 meals on wheels meals as well.

EMD Director Becker concluded, “Please remember the following safety tips for winter weather. If you must travel, have your vehicle in reliable condition and fueled up. Carry an emergency kit with appropriate supplies for the weather: blankets, food, water, medications, sand or cat litter and a small snow shovel, charged cell phone and or charger, and most important: Slow down!

Update:
Compounding the problem of frigid temperatures was Wednesday’s fire at a Detroit area natural gas processing plant, causing the shutdown of that plant building and two others located at the same facility. With all three plants’ natural gas processing off line, Consumers had to issue an alert with a request to lower thermostats to 65 degrees or lower to all of its residential, commercial, and industrial customers throughout the state.

They posted in a press release, “As a result of an unexpected incident at a Gas Compressor station this morning in Southeast Michigan, we are asking customers to temporarily reduce gas usage at this time while we continue to contain the incident and help keep Michigan residents warm during this cold spell,” said Garrick Rochow, Senior Vice President of Operations for Consumers Energy.”

“A fire involving equipment at Consumers Energy’s Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station occurred in Macomb County at 10:33 a.m. today [Wednesday]. The fire is being contained and there were no injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation. All gas flow from the compressor station has been shut in until safety and damage assessments can be completed. Consumers Energy is activating natural gas peaking storage fields in Northville and St. Clair to help deliver natural gas to our customers. Natural gas is stored underground and reserved in these fields, which are activated when energy demand requires it. In addition, the company has reached out to its business customers to reduce gas usage while we continue to investigate the incident.”

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