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Weather Service: Michigan-Style Winter Could Still Hit Hard

Although most of us are enjoying the so-far mild Michigan winter, the Weather Service and the Macomb County Department of Roads warns we're not in the clear just yet.

While Michigan residents have enjoyed a reprieve from Old Man Winter so far this season, the National Weather Service is reminding Michiganders that we're not out of the clear, yet.

"Certainly rain in January is not typical for Michigan, but it's not unprecedented," Joe Clark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s White Lake office said.

Clark attributes warmer weather in the Metro Detroit area due to a northern jet stream that is slowly moving south, causing rain and autumn-like temperatures.

After about an inch of accumulation in Macomb County from Friday’s snow, Saturday’s forecast calls for another 20 percent chance of snow showers with a high near 22 degrees.

“Beyond that, it’s hard to predict when we could see the winter Michigan is known for. The weather pattern is in flux but we’re not in the clear yet by any stretch," Clark said. "The potential for stronger weather could still get here late.”

Clark said the Metro Detroit area has had less than an inch of snow in January five times throughout its history.

“That could change. We could have a really hard February, and that could exhaust our savings. Who knows what Mother Nature has in store for us,” said Macomb County Department of Roads Maintenance Superintendent Leo Ciavatta, who added that there is no forecast for heavy snow in the next 7 to 10 days.

Ciavatta said for now, the 102 road workers, who would normally be working overtime at this point in the season to clear snow, have been enjoying the warmer temperatures to catch up on the Department’s other services such as sweeping the streets, trimming trees, and maintaining gravel and concrete surfaces.

The mild winter has saved the Department money on salt, overtime, fuel and new steel plates for the salt trucks.

“If there is left over money in the maintenance budget, we’ll use it over the course of the year to do regular maintenance,” added Ciavatta.

Last winter, the Macomb County Department of Roads used 43,000 tons of salt to clear Macomb County’s streets. As of yesterday, not including Friday’s snowstorm, the Department has only gone through 3,500 tons of snow.

However, if the winter takes a turn for the worse, Ciavatta said the Department of Roads will be prepared because has five salt storage facilities in Macomb County, totaling more than 50,000 tons of salt.

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