Digging out again

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM

School was canceled Friday after an early-morning dump of snow.

Ottawa County received between 2 and 5 inches of snow once the event started around 3 a.m. Friday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Webb.

Strong winds and ice under the fresh snow contributed to the decisions to cancel school, area school officials said.

Grand Haven Superintendent Keith Konarska said a decision to have school was made at 4 a.m. Between 5 and 6 a.m., the snow started coming down a lot harder.

“It was very wet, sloppy, icy underneath — and it looked like it was going to get worse,” Konarska said.

After consulting with the school district's transportation director, Rod Jonas, and Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton, the decision was made to cancel Grand Haven and Spring Lake schools for the day.

“I can’t remember in my 33 years a more challenging month for weather,” Konarska said.

The superintendent said Friday's snow day is the sixth one for this school year. The state allows 30 hours of class time for snow days.

“We build in an extra day, but right now we are at the max number of hours,” Konarska said. “If, for some reason, we need additional time because of inclement weather, we would have to add some time back into the schedule.”

Konarska said the extra hours could be added this spring by making scheduled half days into full days.

Despite the cancellation of classes Friday, evening athletic events were going on as scheduled, school officials said.

The heaviest band of snow moved north of the area by 10 a.m. By late morning, local snowplow drivers were in catch-up mode.

The number of car crashes and slide offs in Ottawa County was down significantly from two days earlier, Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said Friday. He said they handled 31 incidents between 5 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Area roads were in fairly good shape for the ride home Friday afternoon.

The Lakeshore has received 82.6 inches of snow since Dec. 1, according to National Weather Service data. That's 7.7 inches above normal for this time of the year.

And that's made for a bit of a rush in snow and ice removal equipment, said Geoff Dean, manager at the Ace Hardware in Spring Lake.

“We’ve been having runs on our salt and our roof rakes,” he said. “We are starting to get rid of our snow blowers, too.”

The snow blowers sat around for a while because of the warm start to the winter, Dean said.

Shovel sales have been about average, he added, but the store has sold 30-40 roof rakes this winter.

Accumulations of 1-2 inches of new snow is expected today, Webb said. Highs are expected to be in the lower 30s today and Sunday, with scattered snow showers. High temperatures will inch up to the mid-30s next week, and the next best chance for an accumulation of snow is Tuesday.

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