Whiteout conditions widespread (GH and SL Schools closed Tuesday)

It looked like a clerical error cover-up in Northwest Ottawa County Monday - and somebody spilled the whiteout.
Marie Havenga
Jan 6, 2014

 

Near-zero visibility matched actual temperatures, but wind gusts of up to 40 mph cascaded the wind chill toward a numbing 30 below.

Grand Haven and Spring Lake Schools were closed Monday, and with a forecast of more of the same, the respective superintendents have already cancelled classes in both districts for Tuesday.

Blowing snow clung to screens and windows and relentless rolling drifts caused dangerous driving conditions for motorists.

In an ironic temperature twist, a winter sport was shut down because of wintery conditions.

Mulligan's Hollow Ski Bowl, which was expected to be open today even after school closings had been announced.

The Ski Bowl's Facebook page reads: “Sorry folks, the ski bowl will not be open today, Monday, January 6th. It is just too nasty. There are safety concerns with the wind chill and blowing snow. Sorry.”

Spring Lake School District Superintendent Dennis Furton said he made the decision to close school based on both predicted wind chill and driveability.

"Visibility was very low and the wind was significant,” Furton said. “I looked at both factors – how the roads were and the wind chill did play a factor.”

Like most Ottawa County schools, Spring Lake has a policy to close schools if sustained wind chills reach -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Hoving said wind chills could reach negative 30 both today and Tuesday. Blowing snow is expected to continue through Tuesday, with actual temperatures of 5 to 10 degrees.

Furton said during his test drive this afternoon, many back roads were not passable. He praised road crews for their work on main roads, but while he would like to pass out an "A" grade, the winds make the assignment an "Incomplete".

"They'll clear a road and 15 minutes later the wind is pushing the snow back onto the road,” the superintendent said.

The temperature was 3 degrees as of 11:30 this morning at the Muskegon County Airport, with a wind chill of -18 degrees. Shortly thereafter, the mercury slumped to 1 degree, where it remained much of the afternoon.

Wind gusts reached 37 mph.

 

Winter Weather Tools:

*See what you'll face before you leave your driveway with MDOT traffic camera views. Cameras are mounted on U.S.-31 at Savidge Street and VanWagoner Road. They're also placed in various locations along Int.-96. Visit www.michigan.gov/drive to view.

*You can get up-to-date information on road closings, traffic incidents and traffic speeds at www.michigan.gov/drive.

*Follow MDOT on Twitter for weather and travel updates. Regional conditions are available at @MDOT_West.

*The Michigan State Police operates a Winter Travel Advisory page with freeway and state highway conditions at www.michigan.gove/roadconditions or call 1-800-381-8477.

 

 

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