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Posted: 01/02/13

Residents should prepare
for a typical MI winter

Observer Staff Writer
      Despite last year's mild winter, Mother Nature is expected to be back on track with another snowy and cold winter in store for southeast Michigan.
       Around five to seven inches of snow was dumped onto the northern Macomb County area during the Dec. 26 storms, causing accidents and late arrivals as local and county workers attempted to clear the roadways.
       Rachel Kulik, meteorologist with the Detroit/Pontiac offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the storm system was the same system that struck southern states with tornadoes.
       She said areas south and north of northern Macomb County were hit with less snow, only receiving an average of 5.5 inches.
       "There was more snow than we expected," she said. "The system went north, so we got the snow instead."
       Long-range forecasts for the Metro Detroit area predict this winter will have an average amount of snowfall, though the area is currently below average by 1.5 inches.
       The NOAA reports that despite a milder beginning to the winter, Michiganders can expect frigid temperatures at or below the average winter temperature.
       "The season is still early," Kulik said. "We could get a couple of eight-incher storms and be above average."
       The NOAA states the average day for the first three-plus inches of snow to arrive in the Detroit area is on Dec. 26.
       This year was one of the mildest the Detroit area experienced, with 2012's average temperature at 54.4 degrees as of Dec. 25.
       The lack of snowfall this past winter saved the Village of Romeo Department of Public Works (DPW) about $30,000, while the Macomb County Department of Roads spent about $1.4 million less than the previous year.
       Gearing up for another winter
       Despite being the first significant snowfall of the year, the Romeo DPW reported a successful clearing process of the village's 14 miles of roads.
       Tim Metz, DPW supervisor, said they did a pre-emptive salting at 3 p.m. on Dec. 26 before beginning to clear snow from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
       "We tried to stay ahead of things as the snow came down," he said. "The main streets are our priorities."
       Metz said during heavy snowfall, village residents should not park in the street and are not allowed by law to blow or push snow from their driveways into the street.
       "Cars in the street are hard to plow around," he said. "After they do move them we have to go back and clean where the car was sitting to make the streets safe."
       The DPW prioritizes snow removal in the following order: Streets, parking lots, alleys, pathways, parks and downtown sidewalks. Excess snow is dumped at Lions Field.
       The Washington Township DPW assists the Department of Roads in clearing public roads during heavy snowfall. The DPW couldn't be reached for comment.
       The Department of Roads had its hands full with taking care of 1,700 miles of road. Leo Ciavatta, maintenance supervisor, said they began at 7 a.m. on Dec. 26 to prepare the trucks before hitting the roads.
       "We had people working around the clock since 7 a.m.," Ciavatta said. "We had 40 trucks stay until midnight, then another 50 trucks with fresh people after that."
       He said the county is responsible for taking care of all townships within its borders. Ciavatta said once they take care of the state roads and main thoroughfares, the department assigns trucks from its service centers to clear out the nearest subdivisions.
       Ciavatta said when heavy snowfall occurs, residents should avoid going out if they can. If they must drive, he said to allow for more time to arrive at a destination and to keep a good distance from other vehicles, including snow plows.
       "We won't be out of the woods until mid-March," he said.
       Ciavatta said the latest snowfall provided an opportunity to utilize fairly unused equipment, such as wing plows that can clear an additional half of a lane on top of the normal lane in one swoop.
       "We got more use out of it this year than last year," he said with a chuckle.

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Retrieved 7/30/2015 at 10:08:48 AM.
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