Epic storm wallops the area; police urge residents to ‘stay put’

January 9, 2015
storm 1.9.15-2

Steve Gates shovels the end of his grandparents’ driveway on State Street in Hart Friday morning. Gates, who lives in White Pigeon near Kalamazoo, is visiting his grandparents, Gene and Barb Schaner.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

OCEANA COUNTY — The huge storm that dumped over a foot of snow with blizzard-like conditions overnight appears to be winding down, and residents are digging out this morning.

“Secondary roads are impassible with very deep drifts,” according to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids. “Lake effect snow continues this morning through today (Jan. 9). Hardest hit areas are the lakeshore counties, especially Holland through Ludington, where more than a foot of snow has fallen in some spots.”

Every school district in both Oceana and Mason counties is closed today. Districts began announcing closures late yesterday afternoon. The extreme conditions even caused Mason County government offices to shut down, including the courthouse, the county’s Scottville office; and the Scottville branch of the Mason County District Library.

Area residents played it safe and stayed off the dangerous roads, local law enforcement officials said this morning. The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and the Hart post of the Michigan State Police continue to urge motorists to stay off the roads today.

The winter storm warning, which went into effect Thursday, Jan. 8, at 11 a.m., remains in effect until 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9.

“Those early warnings got to people,” said Lt. Matt Kanitz of the Hart post of the Michigan State Police this morning. “People used good judgment and stayed off the roads. It was well-publicized. Don’t travel unless you have to, and use due care and caution if you do.”

“The sheriff’s office is hoping that everyone uses common sense and only travels as necessary until the plows have a chance to get the roads opened up,” said Lt. Craig Mast of the OCSO. “If folks do choose to travel, they should be prepared for an emergency, as getting stuck in this weather could turn into an emergency very quickly. Motorists should try to take their cell phone if they have one, a shovel, ice scraper, a spare blanket, gloves and hat and good boots. But again, the best advice is to stay put unless absolutely necessary.”

Numerous accidents were reported in southern West Michigan Friday morning, including a huge pileup on I-94 near Kalamazoo.

This snow bank in the parking lot at Gale’s IGA in Hart has surpassed the height of the stop sign.

This snow bank in the parking lot at Gale’s IGA in Hart has surpassed the height of the stop sign.

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