PAW PAW TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A winter storm dropped record-breaking levels of snow on parts of western Michigan, leading to crashes including a roughly 40-vehicle interstate pileup and prompting some schools to close Tuesday.
The Van Buren County sheriff's department said six people had injuries that weren't considered life threatening following the Monday evening pileup on the eastbound side of I-94 in Paw Paw Township, about 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.
A semi lost control, sparking a chain-reaction crash, Sheriff Dale Gribler said.
"Poor visibility and weather conditions played a major role along with drivers driving too fast for the conditions," his office said in a statement.
According to the National Weather Service, the storm broke some decades-old daily snowfall records for Feb. 17, including 6.2 inches in Muskegon and 5.6 inches in Grand Rapids. The old records were 6 inches in Muskegon, set in 1939, and 4.7 inches in Grand Rapids, set in 1956.
In southeastern Michigan, totals ranged from 2.5 to 4 inches in the Detroit area, to 5 inches in Saginaw County. The northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula also got several inches of snow.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing for a while this week. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Meade in Grand Rapids said up to an inch of rain could fall Thursday, prompting concerns about possible roof collapses.
"We are really increasing the weight of the snow on the rooftops," he said. "That is going to go up even more Thursday."
There have been several roof collapses reported since January across Michigan, mostly at buildings with flat roofs.
On Sunday, officials said the weight of snow forced a roof to collapse at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds in Grand Haven Township in western Michigan. On Monday, a porch roof collapsed at a Muskegon home, The Muskegon Chronicle reported. No injuries were reported.
A number of Michigan school districts have this week off for winter break, but some that were scheduled to hold classes shut down because of the snow. Closings were reported Tuesday in the Kalamazoo, Grand Haven, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Ann Arbor areas, among others.
The cold also continued to put stress on infrastructure in the state. Flooding from an apparent water main break Tuesday morning prompted some street closures in downtown Detroit around Campus Martius.
Area resident Chelsea Williams usually catches the bus in the area, but it couldn't get through.
"I absolutely don't know where to catch the bus, I'm kind of out here right now, in the cold and trying to get to work," Williams told WWJ-AM.
Water main breaks have been common in Detroit amid the persistent cold. Last week, a broken water main flooded several blocks in southwest Detroit. Recent water main breaks also have caused problems in other Michigan communities.