2018-02-01 / Local News

Temps to fall, but crews caught up

By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff

ROAD COMMISSION crews get a break from snow-covered and icy roads to focus on essential tree removal. ROAD COMMISSION crews get a break from snow-covered and icy roads to focus on essential tree removal. After a stretch of warmer temperatures and wet roads, winter is making up for lost time.

This week promises cold and snow once again, according to the National Weather Service.

The shift in weather should benefit outdoor enthusiasts such as skiers and snowshoers. And it’s not expected to bring exceptionally poor road conditions.

Leelanau County Road Commission managing director Dan Wagner expects county crews to conduct business as usual for this time of year.

“But the upside to our current situation is that we are not getting hammered with the lake effect snow like we were the last time the temps plummeted this season,” Wagner said. “When that happened the falling snow was getting packed onto the road, which made for some challenging conditions.”

Since Tuesday, plow trucks have been spreading salt and sand on hills and curves to improve traction for drivers. Road Commission staff will watch roads carefully in the coming days.

But salt isn’t always the answer, according to Wagner, because it’s not effective as the mercury drops below 20 degrees.

According to the NWS forecast for Maple City, daily highs are expected to reach 18 degrees today, 15 degrees Friday, 21 degrees Saturday and just 14 degrees on Sunday.

“Our crews keep a close eye on them under these conditions and will be putting down more sand than salt to provide some traction,” he said. “Thankfully we are not getting the snow with the very cold temps as the combination of the two makes things challenging for us.”

When roads are clear — as occurred during the past week — crews take on different roles and think like lumberjacks.

“The remainder of our crews are focused on dangerous tree removals when not plowing snow,” Wagner said. “One of the downsides to winters when our crews are plowing snow almost daily is that we can not take down as many dangerous trees. So hopefully now that the lake effect snow machine seems to have shut down, we can make up some lost ground there.”

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