By Alec Maule
In the coming weeks Grand Rapids is slated to have yet another winter storm, this time with an emphasis on freezing rain and a heavy glazing of ice over all the roads. While most locals have dealt with these conditions as recently as this past month, it is still important to keep informed about how to handle yourself on the roads should you be traveling during a storm.
The most obvious thing to ensure is that you’re properly dressed for the weather. Most people know to wear a jacket and gloves, but with the upcoming expected wind conditions it’s going to prove especially important if you want to avoid injury. Cort Scholten of the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids emphasizes that “wind is what really hurts since it removes heat from your skin faster” and to ensure all skin is covered in order to avoid wind burn or frostbite in freezing conditions. He added that it is equally important to make sure you have extra survival supplies in the vehicle. Things like food, water, and road flares are essential in the event of an emergency, especially when travelling through rural areas.
Maura Lamoreaux from the Kent County Road Commission said to be extra careful on overpasses this coming week, as they generally ice over quicker than the rest of the roadway, and to be especially careful of sudden whiteouts from large vehicles passing by. She also requested that drivers and pedestrians “don’t crowd the plow,” and to make sure to give them plenty of space on the road to do their jobs properly.
She added that you can also help by making sure any obstructions are off the road, as snow responders often have issues with people leaving out disabled vehicles, garbage cans, and children’s play equipment. If you plan on walking make sure that you keep out of the way of traffic and road services for your own safety. The less obstructions on the road, the faster they can do their job and ensure that our commutes are that much safer.
The best way to keep up to date on weather is through the National Weather Service’s website, and for road conditions check the Kent County Road Commission’s website and social media outlets. They can be found on Twitter and Facebook at @MIKCRC.