Bitter cold, snow lead to crashes, closures

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you have to drive Wednesday, be prepared for another day of blowing snow and whiteout conditions. 

Eastbound I-94 closed between Oakland Drive and Portage Road briefly because of crashes. It has since reopened.

The bitter cold temperatures are also making road-clearing more difficult for road crews across West Michigan.

In Cass County whiteouts led to crashes, Sheriff Richard Behnke said stuck vehicles were blocking plows, making road-clearing and travel more difficult. 

"Vehicles with low ground clearance 'will' get stuck in the drifts and block traffic, and the frigid temperatures can produce frostbite in 10-15 minutes if exposed to the wind," the sheriff warned in a Wednesday news release.

Behnke and other authorities are asking everyone to stay home unless it's necessary to travel. If you do have to head out, budget extra time for your trip, go slowly and at least triple the distance between you and the car in front of you.

Follow the Michigan Department of Transportation on Twitter for the latest highway closures in  Southwest and  West Michigan

The National Weather has issued a  Winter Storm Warning  for most of the area until 1 p.m. Thursday for snow, blowing and drifting snow along with dangerously cold wind chills.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer  declared a state of emergency  for the entire state due to the bitterly cold temperatures expected in the next few days. She also activated the state's Emergency Operations Center, which coordinates responses among multiple agencies.

Drivers who venture out are reminded to turn on their headlights, clear all snow and ice from their vehicles, and stay focused. Michigan law prohibits drivers from "depositing" snow, ice or slush on roads and highways, which can pose a danger to other travelers.

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