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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Blowing and drifting snow and slippery conditions caused a slew of car crashes across West Michigan, including pileups that closed the entirety of I-96 in Ottawa County Tuesday afternoon.
The dangerous road conditions have prompted officials to advise residents to stay off the roads unless they must travel. If you do have to head out, budget extra time for your tip, go slowly and at least triple the distance between you and the driver in front of you.
I-96 CLOSED FROM NUNICA TO MARNE
Both directions of I-96 are closed essentially all the way through Ottawa County — about 20 miles — due to a at least three multicar crashes and several smaller crashes, including pileups at Marne and Coopersville. A sheriff's deputy at the scene said there were too many cars involved to provide an immediate count.
At least two people sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the crash near Marne. The deputy didn't have information about injuries in the other crashes.
Ottawa County dispatchers said school buses are being called to the scene to shelter more than 100 people who are involved in the pileup. Those people were being taken to Berlin Baptist Church at 14141 State St. in Marne .
The deputy said there were whiteout conditions, the road was icy and wind was causing drifting across the highway.
Drivers are advised to avoid the area as crews work to clear the scene.
MDOT is also reporting the following highway closures:
- Northbound US-131 after 124th Avenue in Allegan County.
- Eastbound I-96 at M-11 (Ironwood Drive) in Ottawa County.
- Eastbound I-94 at Lawrence in Van Buren County.
The Muskegon County Sheriff's Office says southbound US-31 at White Lake Drive is shut down due to a crash near Riley Thompson Road in Dalton Township.
20+ VEHICLES, MSP CRUISER IN M-6 PILEUP
The Dutton Fire Department said that around 10 a.m., at least 24 vehicles, including multiple semi-trucks and a Michigan State Police cruiser, were involved in a pileup on M-6 east of Kalamzoo Avenue in Gaines Township. At least four fire departments responded.
Several drivers were pinned in their vehicles and had to be freed. At least eight people were hospitalized, the fire department said. Their injuries ranged in severity.
Firefighters said there were whiteout conditions at the time of the crash.
Both directions of M-6 were closed for several hours as crews worked to clear the scene. Authorities reopened the highway shortly after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
AT LEAST 15 VEHICLES IN I-196 PILEUP
Ottawa County dispatchers said around 9:30 a.m., at least 15 vehicles were involved in a pileup on I-196 in Zeeland Township. It's unclear if there are any injuries.
Eastbound I-196 at Byron Road near Zeeland was closed for hours as crews worked to remove vehicles from the scene. The westbound lanes were also closed for several hours, but the highway has since reopened in both directions.
MULTICAR CRASH IN BRUNSWICK
One person was injured in a multicar crash on Maple Island Road south of 60th Street in Sheridan Township. The crash, which happened around 8:40 a.m., was initially reported as a three-car crash, but more vehicles involved were later reported. The exact number of cars involved is unclear.
ROAD CREWS FACE CHALLENGES CLEARING SNOW
Blowing and drifting snow continue to be an issue, which is making it hard for crews to clear the roads.
In Kent County, crews were putting in extra hours and contractors were being called to keep clearing neighborhoods and cul de sacs, according to Jerry Byrne, director of operations for the Kent County Road Commission.
The road commission is advising drivers to take it slow even on paved roads because they may be icy.
Allegan County said it would have plows running from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.; its plan for after that was not immediately clear.
In Montcalm County, most local roads had been plowed and all primary roads had been cleared. Plows would remain out for as long as needed. Officials warned of slick spots because salt is not working due to the cold temperatures.
Van Buren County said its crews went out at 3 a.m. and would stay out until 4:30 a.m. All local roads had been plowed at least once and primary roads had been done at least twice, but drifting was still causing problems.
It comes a day after a large swath of West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, got between 6 and 10 inches of snow.
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.