Many Grand Rapidians woke up to surprisingly slick and dangerous road conditions Tuesday morning, and they could be in store for even more inclement weather and treacherous travel.
There have been multiple reported wrecks and sirens can be heard echoing out around the city. Kent County has even shut down major interstates due to hazardous roads and multiple accidents.
“Westbound I-96 at US 131 and eastbound I-96 at Fruit Ridge are closed,” Kent County Dispatch Supervisor stated to The Collegiate. “There have been numerous slide offs and accidents. The morning commute was the worst, but it is now getting better.”
Cort Scholten, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids, has been keeping a close eye on the situation here in Kent County. He explained what has happened and forecasted what will happen over the next 24 hours.
“We’ve had a freezing drizzle occurring across a large portion of the area this morning,” Scholten said. “It’s freezing on contact with the roads and any other surfaces. There are salt trucks out there working right now.
“As far as what to look for in the next 24 hours… it’s basically going to continue. It may at times change over to light snow. We think the highs will be near 32 degrees. So we may get some improvement in the road conditions this afternoon with temperatures near freezing, the salt starting to work and the road commission’s having time to go through every roadway they need to go through.”
Despite reports of the roads getting better, road conditions and sidewalks are still very dangerous and these conditions could continue. Kent County Road Commissioner Maura Lamoreaux is not as optimistic about the road conditions, even those that have been treated.
“Salt is not working because of the freezing rain, even roads already treated will freeze,” Lamoreaux said.
With more precipitation and temperatures dipping below freezing in the forecast, Scholten believes Kent County citizens should expect more of the same on their commute tomorrow morning.
“Going into tonight, the temperatures will go back down into the 20’s and we do expect more freezing drizzle or snow, light snow,” Scholten said. “I’m not sure if there’s going to be another traffic problem tomorrow morning due to the salt already being on the road, but it could be tricky because we expect more of this icy, freezing drizzle or light snow to occur through tomorrow morning.”
Michigan State Police Rockford Post Sgt. David Cope gave his advice to anyone driving in these conditions.
“Go very slow, allow yourself extra time (to get to your destination),” Cope said. “Increase your following distance behind cars, and avoid travel if possible.”
Editors Note: Collegiate reporters Matthew Scheidel and Lillian Linscott contributed to this story.