Fluffy snowflakes fell over Northwest Ottawa County on Tuesday afternoon — but the snow cover turned slick, resulting in a rash of crashes and slide-offs on area roads.
Police said injuries appeared minor in most of the crashes that occurred between 2:45 and 5 p.m.
Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police and firefighters responded to a crash at about 2:50 p.m. when a PT Cruiser left northbound U.S. 31 and rolled over into the trees south of VanWagoner Road.
Sandie Farmer, a resident of Spahr Street in Ferrysburg, said she could just see the lights of a car through the pine trees after a friend alerted her of the crash.
“If it wasn’t for the pine trees, the car would have rolled right down into the channel,” Farmer said.
The occupants of the car got out of the wreck on their own. One complained of a minor injury.
Minutes later, a Grand Haven woman’s car slid off Grand Avenue in Grand Haven and hit a tree. Grand Haven public safety officers said the road was extremely slippery at the time, and they contacted the city's public works staff to salt the hill.
The woman was taken by ambulance to North Ottawa Community Hospital as a precaution, police said.
Just around the corner, Grand Haven Officer Tom Winegar blocked traffic so a car could back off the hill on Taylor Avenue and onto Sheldon Road by the hospital.
“I couldn’t even get up the hill,” Winegar said minutes later as a Department of Public Works truck sanded its way backward up the hill.
At about 4 p.m., a vehicle flipped off I-96 and into the highway's median in Crockery Township. Westbound traffic slowed near the Nunica exit as one person was taken away by ambulance.
Meteorologists warn that a "piece of the polar vortex" that chilled much of the country last week is introducing renewed cold throughout the Tri-Cities, creating poor road conditions.
Forecasters from AccuWeather.com said the surge of cold air from the Arctic will push into the Great Lakes region on Thursday. It won’t be as severe as the cold wave last week that sent temperatures plummeting to as much as 30-40 degrees below normal. This blast will produce temperatures to about 10 degrees lower than average.
Temps should rebound in the Great Lakes by Sunday, but additional waves of cold air will follow.
“The polar vortex will act like a giant pinwheel or anchor for waves of cold air and clipper storms from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast during the second half of the month,” noted AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.