Traverse City Record-Eagle


February 19, 2014

Big thaw comes on heels of another winter storm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The big thaw arrived in Michigan on Tuesday after weeks of bitter cold and snowstorms, with temperatures pushing into the mid-40s in parts of the state.

Benton Harbor and South Haven saw readings of 46 degrees, while Muskegon hit 45 degrees and Holland 44 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Detroit's high reached 34.

The warm-up came one day after yet another winter storm hit western Michigan, with record snowfall reports for Muskegon and Grand Rapids. The storm led to several crashes, including a roughly 40-vehicle pileup on Interstate 94, as well as some school closings.

A tractor-trailer that lost control sparked the chain-reaction crash Monday on the eastbound side of I-94 in Paw Paw Township, about 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler said.

Six people were hurt, though none of the injuries was considered life threatening, according to the sheriff's office.

"Poor visibility and weather conditions played a major role along with drivers driving too fast for the conditions," Gribler said in a statement.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm broke some decades-old daily snowfall records for Feb. 17, including 6.2 inches in Muskegon and 5.6 inches in Grand Rapids. The old records were 6 inches in Muskegon, set in 1939, and 4.7 inches in Grand Rapids, set in 1956.

In southeastern Michigan, totals ranged from 2.5 inches to 4 inches in the Detroit area, to 5 inches in Saginaw County. The northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula also got several inches of snow.

A snowplow truck driven by a private contractor hit and injured a pedestrian who was walking in a Kent County roadway Tuesday morning because the sidewalks were snow-covered, WOOD-TV reported. The man was in stable condition when taken to a hospital.

Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing for a while this week. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Meade in Grand Rapids said up to an inch of rain could fall Thursday, prompting concerns about possible roof collapses.

"We are really increasing the weight of the snow on the rooftops," he said. "That is going to go up even more Thursday."

There have been several roof collapses reported since January across Michigan, mostly at buildings with flat roofs.

Colder weather is expected to return by the weekend, with highs only into the 20s in much of Michigan, the weather service said.

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