Snowfall is a common occurrence in Michigan; however, Midland County
generally does not experience the vast amount of snow that is received by
counties in western and northern Michigan. Even so, Midland residents have
seen their share of snowstorms. By definition, a snowstorm is a period of
rapidly accumulating snow often accompanied by high winds, cold
temperatures and low visibility. If the described conditions are
particularly intense, the storm is classified as a blizzard.
A blizzard occurred in Michigan on January 26-27, 1978. Thirty-four
inches of snow fell, and winds of 50-70 mph piled the snow into drifts. As
a result of the storm, more than 50,000 miles of roadway were blocked,
104,000 vehicles were abandoned, 15,000 people found themselves in mass
care shelters and 390,000 homes were without electric power. Two days
after the storm, 90 percent of the state's roads were still impassible.
The entire state went under a Presidential Emergency Declaration.
The word "snow" in a National Weather Service forecast, without a
qualifying word such as "occasional", means that snow will fall steadily
and will probably continue uninterrupted for several hours. "Snow
flurries" are defined as snow falling for short durations at intermittent
periods. The following watches and warnings are issued by the National
Weather Service for hazardous winter storms.
WINTER STORM WATCH means that winter
storm conditions may affect the area.
WINTER STORM WARNING means that
severe winter weather conditions are occurring or are imminent.
ICE STORM WARNING means that
significant - and possibly damaging - ice accumulations are expected.
HEAVY SNOW WARNING means that
snowfall of at least 4 inches in 12 hours or 6 inches in 24 hours is
BLIZZARD WARNING indicates that
falling and blowing snow and winds of at least 35 mph are expected for
SEVERE BLIZZARD WARNING signifies that considerable falling
and blowing snow, winds of at least 45 mph and temperatures of 10
degrees F or lower are expected for several hours.
Winter Storm Safety Rules
Keep ahead of winter storms by listening to
the latest weather warnings and bulletins on radio and television.
Make sure battery-powered radios or
televisions have fresh batteries and are working properly. They could be
your only means of contact with the outside world during the storm.
If you live in a rural area, make sure you
have an adequate supply of heating fuel. Also, make sure you have plenty
of food and essential supplies on hand.
Have food supplies that are non-perishable
and require little or no preparation.
Stay indoors during a blizzard. Don't go
out unless it is absolutely necessary.
In extremely cold weather, wear
loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Body heat
is trapped between each layer to keep you warm. If necessary, layers of
clothing can be removed to prevent perspiration and chills. Outer
garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Mittens
that are snug at the wrist are better hand protection than gloves.
Get your car winterized in the fall. Keep
the tank full of gasoline. Keep a car emergency kit with blankets,
flashlight, booster cables, snack food, first aid, extra clothes and a
If you get stuck in your car, stay with the
vehicle. Run your engine periodically to stay warm until help arrives.
Don't over-exert yourself. It is easy to do
if you are not used to vigorous exercise.