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First snowfall hits Tri-Cities

Matt DeYoung • Dec 7, 2017 at 5:15 PM

The Tri-Cities area received its first real taste of winter on Thursday as the first accumulation of snow blanketed West Michigan. 

The snow, coupled with temperatures below freezing, led to slick roads and many crashes throughout the day. 

Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said that, as of noon Thursday, his department had responded to 119 calls for traffic incidents involving slide-offs, property damage, and injury crashes. He noted that none of the crashes resulted in life-threatening injuries. 

The most serious was a three-car injury crash that occurred at 10:50 a.m. on U.S. 31 at Quincy Street in Holland Township. A vehicle was traveling south on the highway when its driver lost control and the car skidded through the median into the northbound lane, where it was struck nearly head-on. That caused the vehicle to spin around and strike a third car.

The driver was seriously injured; however, Austin said the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening at the scene. A pet dog in the vehicle did die at the scene.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said his department responded to four crashes and one other “miscellaneous traffic complaint” as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

By the numbers (as of noon Thursday):

75 — Property damage crashes

11 — Injury crashes

33 — Slide-offs

Winter driving tips

Austin shared the following tips for driving in snowy conditions:

• Slow down! Posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speeds is the best precautionary measure against any misfortune while driving on slippery roads. “Black ice is invisible.”

• Give yourself plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. This gives you more time to react to an event in front of you and may avoid a collision.

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

• Drive with your headlights on low beam during adverse weather conditions.

• If you become stuck in the snow, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow, become lost and be hit by a passing vehicle.

More snow expected

According to the National Weather Service, an additional 4 inches of snow could fall on West Michigan on Friday. 

The forecast for the Grand Haven area calls for a 40 percent chance of snow showers with a high near 33 on Friday. More snow is expected Friday night, with a low around 27. The chance for precipitation is 90 percent, with new snow accumulation of around 4 inches.

Saturday’s forecast also calls for snow and a high near 31.

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