New Year brings first winter storm of the season

The new year also ushered in the winter season's first arctic blast. For the Grand Haven area, the first snowfall came in at about 3 p.m. Sunday.
Alex Doty
Jan 2, 2012

“A pretty strong arctic front came through,” WZZM-TV meteorologist Aaron Ofseyer said.

Once the winds shifted to the north and west, conditions became ripe for the lake-effect machine to kick in, he said.

“It actually looks like the most impressive totals are inland,” Ofseyer said.

The winter storm warning continues in effect until 8 tonight for areas along the West Michigan Lakeshore. According to the National Weather Service, the heaviest snow and blowing snow will be near to west of a line from Muskegon to Battle Creek; with a second area of heavy snow affecting Baldwin, Big Rapids and Reed City.

Ofseyer said this morning we may see an additional 2-5 inches of snow, with the possibility of 6-12 inches in some places.

“It’s hard to believe it’s taken us until the first week of 2012 to get our first storm,” he added.

With the blowing snow and icy roads came plenty of incidents on local roadways — from slideoffs to rollover accidents.

Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said his department responded to several incidents on Sunday — all in a short period of time.

“We went out on, I believe, four (rollover accident) calls in a matter of a half-hour time,” he said.

The first incident, he said, occurred at 5:44 p.m. at Fillmore Street and U.S. 31. Gerencer said this rollover accident required the patient to be extricated from the vehicle; however, the injuries weren’t serious.

The second incident occurred at 5:58 p.m. on Winans Street, the third at 6:06 p.m. at U.S. 31 and 158th Avenue, and the fourth at U.S. 31 and 152nd Avenue.

“It was very busy,” Gerencer said. “The roads were extremely slippery.”

The township fire chief said all of the injuries in the accidents weren’t serious; however, people were transported to local hospitals to be treated and checked over.

During the slew of calls handled by the township, Gerencer said the city of Grand Haven manned the township station.

Other crashes occurred around the county on Sunday night.

Sgt. John Wolffis of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said deputies responded to a two-car crash on 72nd Avenue near Polk Street in Blendon Township. According to Wolffis, inclement weather caused Cheryl Gable of Zeeland to lose control of her car and go into on-coming traffic. Gable’s car hit a car driven by 56-year-old Douglas Stelma, who tried to avoid being hit by moving into the other lane. However, Gale swerved back into her lane and hit Stelma’s car head-on.

A passenger in Stelma’s car, 50-year-old LeAnn Hawkins, was pinned in the smashed vehicle for 45 minutes.

Hawkins was taken to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital and is listed in fair condition. Gable was taken to Zeeland Community Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.

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