First heavy snowfall grips area

Published 3:53 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- As winter weather continues to grip Southwestern Michigan, the accumulation of snow and ice have caused treacherous driving and working conditions for the City of Niles..
Captain James Merriman of the Niles City Police said the increase in automobile accidents due to poor driving conditions has been significant.
He said many accidents have been caused because people are taking curves to quickly and lose control.
Merriman said it is important to drive slow, especially around curves, and he remindedm motorists to leave a lot of room between vehicles.
He mentioned while having in four-wheel drive may help in the snow, it does not help much on icy roads.
He also pointed to the importance of clearing snow and ice off of your car before you get on the road.
Drivers who fail to properly clean off their vehicles can receive a vision obstruction ticket.
Merriman said it is not good enough to just clear a small hole to see through in your windshield.
During and after significant snowfalls, City of Niles ask residents to keep their sidewalks clean and to not park their vehicles on the street.
Coulston said there is a city ordinance that requires property owners to keep their sidewalks clear.
The city does work to plow the sidewalks used as school routes, but roads, alleys and parking lots take first priority.
Coulston said it is hard enough for the city to keep up with the roads when there is constant precipitation like we experienced earlier this week,
He said the city doesn't have the manpower or equipment to clear all of the sidewalks and asks residents to please keep the public walkways on their properties clean.
Merriman and Coulston both asked residents to assist their neighbors with snow removal it they are elderly or disabled.
They also agreed on the fact that cars should not be parked on the road during large snow storms.
Cars parked in the streets not only make it harder for snow plow drivers to keep the roads clear, they are also dangerous for other drivers.
Merriman said the police department has an officer designated to ticket cars that are parked in the road for too long.
They will receive a ticket and if the cars are not moved in two days, they will be towed.
The U.S. Postal Service is another organization affected by extreme winter weather.
Mail carrier Chris Cloud was all smiles as she trekked through the deep snow from house to house on State Street Wednesday.
Tom Principe, Postmaster of the Niles Post Office, said "our biggest concern is being able to get to the mailboxes."
He said if ice or snow causes it to become dangerous or difficult to reach the mailbox, their mail may not be delivered.
Principe said it makes their job a lot easier when sidewalks, steps and walkways are cleared off.
He said the mail carriers have around 400 to 500 stops per day, so they are not expected to go out of their way to reach a mailbox that is buried in snow.
For everyone who has braved the cold to shovel their sidewalks and driveways, there may be more work on the way.
There is a chance for more snow in the coming days, but not to the extent of this week's earlier storm.
The good news is that the next storm system is coming from the Northern Plains, so it will not have as much moisture as the last storm.
Sekelsky said the significant snowfall that we have experienced came from a storm that travelled up the Ohio Valley from the Southern Plains states of Texas and Oklahoma. The storm picked up moisture from the Gulf and that combined with the cold Arctic air from the North to create heavy precipitation.
He said there is a chance for spotty lake effect snow showers predicted for our area over the next couple of days that could cause a few more inches of accumulation.