The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) encourages citizens and visitors to prepare for a hazardous winter storm expected to affect most of the Lower Peninsula from noon Monday, Dec. 28, and into Tuesday, Dec. 29.
The National Weather Service is forecasting freezing rain with a quarter- to half-inch of ice accumulation. Western Michigan is expected to experience the worst conditions with 50 mph winds and the highest ice accumulation totals. These conditions are likely to cause widespread power outages and dangerous traveling conditions.
"Now is the time to prepare for this winter storm," said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. "Freezing rain has the ability to be very destructive, causing both long-term power outages and hazardous travel conditions. I strongly recommend anyone who may be affected by this storm to ensure they have enough supplies to last three days per person. Travel may not be possible right away."
Anyone in the path of this weather system is strongly encouraged to make alternative plans in case weather conditions disrupt daily routines. Preparations include charging cell phones and other devices in case power is interrupted, evaluating whether driving is necessary, stocking up on gas for generators and vehicles, and gathering essential supplies for your car and home in case they are needed.
The public is encouraged to monitor local news media for up-to-date weather reports and local emergency information.
Hazardous Travel Conditions Likely
Travel will likely be hazardous throughout the Lower Peninsula due to the freezing rain.
Travelers are encouraged to go to www.michigan.gov/roadconditions and www.michigan.gov/drive to check road conditions before traveling. Weather and road conditions are also available by calling the MSP Travel Advisory Hotline at 1-800-381-8477.
The MSP/EMHSD asks that you view these websites or call the Travel Advisory Hotline rather than calling your local MSP post or 911. If the weather forecast and road conditions look dangerous, reschedule or postpone the driving trip.
If you must travel, keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle (e.g., a hand-crank flashlight and radio, cell phone charger, windshield scraper, emergency contact list, blanket, "Help" signs, jumper cables, tow strap, fire extinguisher, cat litter or sand for better tire traction, shovels, flares, first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable, high-energy foods).
If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.
Power Outage Safety
Ice accumulation is a serious threat to trees and utility lines and has the ability to cause widespread power outages.
To stay safe during a power outage:
During and after a storm, stay at least 25 feet from any downed lines and assume that every line is "live" and dangerous.
If clearing trees or limbs, make CERTAIN they are not in contact with a power line. Trees and branches can conduct electricity and electrocute you on contact.
Do not call 911 to ask about the power outage. Report outages to your utility company.
Never run a generator indoors. Ensure it is outside and far away from windows or any other area where exhaust can vent back into a living area. Carbon monoxide can cause injury or death.
Gas stations and ATMs may not be available if the power is out. Use these services prior to the storm.
Have an emergency preparedness kit ready with supplies to last three days per person (e.g., food, water, first aid kit, flashlight and radio with extra batteries, extra clothing and blankets).
For more information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency, visit the MSP/EMHSD on the Web at www.michigan.gov/miready or Twitter at @MichEMHS.