Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 24, 2012

Roads expected to be icy, perilous

Rainy warm spell followed by freeze creates driving mess

TRAVERSE CITY — Rain and warm temperatures created slick roads that were expected to again turn icy, a slippery, dangerous see-saw on area secondary and gravel roads.

Rain washed away snow and exposed underlying ice Sunday night and Monday. Falling temperatures Monday night were expected to leave some main roads slick in spots today and refreeze the ice and slush on subdivision, secondary and gravel roads.

"This has been a weird, funny winter, but anytime we have these wide swings in temperatures, the roads may appear fine, but they can change up pretty quick," said Nancy Roseman, engineer/manager of the Benzie County Road Commission. "Drivers need to be cautious. It's winter. Pretty much always drive cautious."

Sunday night's weather featured a short-lived freezing drizzle, and because the ground is still frozen, roads with hard-packed snow or ice turned into a solid block, said Mary Gillis, manager of the Grand Traverse County Road Commission.

Hard-packed snow bonds to road surfaces and resists removal by plow blades, road officials said. Salt needed to break the bond won't work in extremely cold conditions such as those witnessed throughout northern Michigan last week.

Up to 0.8 inches of rain fell by noon on Monday, and turned much of the snow atop roads to slush that was expected to re-freeze.

"It leaves that slick, hard ice, especially on side roads and gravel," Roseman said. "Add moisture on top of that and it makes it pretty slippery."

Grand Traverse County sheriff's officials said 10 accidents occurred between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday. No serious injuries were reported.

Monday's warmer daytime temperatures allowed road crews to scrape most major roads and some side roads. On gravel roads, a heavy sand mixture was dumped to create grit.

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