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Snyder urges homeowners, businesses, motorists to prepare for severe weather. State departments ready to offer assistance, information

Contact: See contact information below.

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today urged residents across Michigan to prepare for the possibility of a variety of severe weather conditions. He also instructed state agencies to proactively make weather-related information and safety tips available as they continue monitoring the situation.

The Lower Peninsula faces possible flooding as rain, coupled with rising temperatures, during the next 24 hours may result in a rapid thaw of the state’s record-breaking snowfall. In the Upper Peninsula, residents are bracing for a new round of dangerous blizzard conditions. Department of Transportation road crews are prepared to help with snow plowing and removal, and are currently working to clear drainage structures on state roads to prevent or mitigate flooding. The departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality are also working with the U.S. Coast Guard to help deal with possible flooding.

“It’s been a challenging winter in the Great Lakes State and we’re not through with it yet,” Snyder said. “The possibility of flooding across Lower Michigan presents hazardous situations that demand awareness, caution and preparedness. In the U.P., additional snow and an ongoing propane shortage will continue to present challenges. State authorities are monitoring situations across Michigan, are working closely with local and federal partners, and are reaching out with helpful information designed to protect our citizens and their property. Let’s all stay informed of the changing weather conditions and put safety first.”

In the north, residents should be prepared for blizzard-like conditions as much of the U.P. is under a winter storm watch through Friday. Forecasts call for additional snow accumulation of 6 inches or more and strong, sustained westerly winds with gusts of up to 35 miles per hour. Areas of blowing and drifting snow and limited visibility will likely develop, causing roads to become snow covered, creating hazardous driving conditions.

As temperatures rise, there is increased risk for flooding because of the higher-than-normal snow accumulation and extremely cold temperatures that Michigan encountered this winter. Water in the existing snowpack contains large amounts of moisture, and thick ice on rivers could potentially cause ice jams and rising levels. Also, as a result of frozen ground, water runoff will not be able to be absorbed, which may lead to the potential flooding of low-lying areas, including roads, basements, and bodies of water. If significant rainfall were to occur during the thawing period, there could be greater potential for widespread flooding.

People are encouraged to monitor local news and weather reports for up-to-date information and heed advisories. State authorities continue to monitor the situation closely and are prepared to act.

Road safety

The Department of Transportation and Michigan State Police offers motorists important tips in the event of a flood. Motorists should not attempt to drive through a flooded road, as the depth of water is not always obvious and the road bed may be washed out, which may cause drivers to become stuck and susceptible to harm. Also, motorists should not drive around a barricade, as barricades are there for protection and safety purposes.

In addition to clearing drains on state roads, MDOT also provided tips for local road agencies to help minimize effects of possible flooding.

  • Clear snow and ice dams and debris and litter from drainage structures;
  • Clear storm sewers and drainage structures of sand used for winter maintenance;
  • Check roadside ditch lines for fallen trees or branches and other debris that could block drainage paths, and
  • Verify storm drainage pump stations that move water from low areas are working and have backup generators in place.

For more information on winter travel, visit the MSP website, Michigan.gov/roadconditions. MDOT also offers additional information and tips on winter travel online at Michigan.gov/mdot.

Tips for home and business owners

For excessive snow accumulation, when possible, clearing roofs of snow and ice helps to minimize the risk of over-stressing the structure. Residents should be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up or snowdrifts on roofs that are flat or only have a slight pitch, including garages, car ports, and porches. Roof ice dams can also form and cause water build-up, leading to interior damage.Residents who need to remove snow from a roof should take extra care and work safely as the snow is heavy and roofs and other surfaces are slippery.

Floods are one of the most common, and most costly, natural disasters. Preparing now for flood situations can minimize damage and injuries. Home and business owners should be prepared for the possible disruption of services, including electric, phone and local food and water sources. Protecting a home or business from potential flooding situations can involve a variety of actions, from inspecting and maintaining the property to installing protective devices or materials. Residents are also encouraged to clear storm drains along curbs to enable water to drain. If plugged, water has the potential to go into low-lying areas and flood basements.

In the event of a flood, stay tuned to local news outlets, follow emergency alerts and any evacuation orders and avoid flood waters, which may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage, harmful bacteria or be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

More information on steps that families, home owners, and business owners can take is available at http://www.prep4agthreats.org/.

Farms and food

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides important information for farmers and animal and livestock owners when dealing with floods and other natural disasters. Also, MDARD has emergency action plans available for retail food establishments to ensure food safety during possible flooding. That information is available at this website.

Environmental protection

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, and the Office of the Great Lakes are working with the U.S. Coast Guard on a plan of assistance to use the guard’s ice cutters at the mouths of key rivers. Breaking the ice at river mouths will help water move out of swollen rivers and minimize flooding’s impact. The DNR is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on potential flooding assistance and Michigan Conservation Officers stand ready to ensure the safety of both rural and urban communities found within potential flood zones.

Additionally, the DEQ Dam Safety Program is working with the National Weather Service on possible flooding conditions. In the event of threatening conditions DEQ will coordinate with dam owners and emergency management officials to ensure a proper response. Those who may become affected by flooding should contact their local emergency management officials and the DEQ Dam Safety Program at 517-284-5567 or after hours at 1-800-292-4706.       

Terms to Know

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible in your area.
  • Flash Flood: Rapid flooding, usually in low lying areas. Water floods with great force.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur in your area. Move to higher ground and listen to local media for evacuation orders.
  • Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring. Seek higher ground and listen to local media for evacuation orders.

To learn what to do before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security website at Michigan.gov/emhsd

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FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Sara Wurfel or Dave Murray, Governor’s Office, 517-599-3470 or 517-449-8343

Ron Leix, Michigan State Police, Emergency Management & Homeland Security Division, 517-242-5631

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