After freezing rain, ‘whiteout conditions’ on the way

News Photo by Crystal Nelson A tractor-trailer is seen tipped over in Squaw Bay on Thursday afternoon after it slipped off the roadway in icy conditions.

ALPENA — A tractor-trailer slid off of U.S.-23 and turned over into Squaw Bay Thursday afternoon as Northeast Michigan region was hit with freezing rain on Thursday, which resulted in slippery roads throughout the area.

It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured in the wreck. Police were not available for comment at the scene.

The wreck was one of several minor incidents that happened as the area received between one-tenth and two-tenths of an inch of freezing rain on Thursday, according to Mike Kurz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord.

He said the freezing rain was persistent for a couple hours on Thursday.

The freezing rain resulted in local school districts being closed Thursday. Alpena Community College, the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library, Northern Lights Arena, all District Health Department No. 4 offices, and the Alpena County courthouse closed early because of weather.

Kurz said freezing rain is problematic for travel, especially with temperatures being in the low- to mid-20s, so when the rain falls on any surface, it’s freezing instantaneously.

“On roads, especially on untreated roads, that can cause problems very quickly and making them very slick,” Kurz said.

Kurz said it warmed up very little throughout Thursday. When temperatures did warm up, the freezing rain turned into just rain before moving out of the area.

Kurz said Thursday afternoon that at around midnight, the area will receive a much colder air mass, with winds picking up, so any precipitation in the area will transition to snow. He said it will be a lake-effect snow pattern.

For today, it will be colder and snowy, Kurz said.

“The most intense bands are going to be along and west of I-75 probably, but it will be westernly wind so some of those could be carried as far inland toward Alpena,” Kurz said. “We’re looking at possible whiteout conditions, so visibility will be very poor and that will lead to continued hazardous travel.”

Gary Graham, president and chief operating officer of Alpena Power Co., said Thursday afternoon that there hadn’t been any power outages reported.

Graham said if power outages occur in the Village of Hillman, Alpena Power Co. will help, but most power outages west and northwest of Alpena would be dealt with by the Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op.

News reporter Crystal Nelson contributed to this report.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.