Another Day Off – My Thoughts & Suggestions

So most schools around Washtenaw County (and Metro Detroit) are closed again today. I have to say that I agree with the decision to close schools, but wish it had been made last night when districts outside of Washtenaw County began to announce closures.

I have a few conflicting thoughts on today’s closure. My thought is that given road conditions in neighborhoods and secondary streets that closing school was the right decision. However, I believe the decision could have been made last night. At the same time, I believe that the city and county have inadequate resources to deal with this volume of snow which is what necessitated the closing.

Road Conditions

In a comment on an MLive article, AALDR states

Interesting fact: City Administrator Steve Powers announced at the City Council meeting just a hour or so ago that they were working on “7 sectors and had 7 to go”, that they expect to have made one pass down the “side” roads not until 1 PM on Tuesday afternoon. My garbage pick-up is not until Saturday this week, no plows have come through yet….also, Mr. Powers acknowledged to Council that the tracking website has been down all day and that they are “contacting the vendor”. Buses will not be able to get through many neighborhood streets and parents can’t get out un-plowed streets in the AM, Tuesday.

My Observations from my Home

I don’t live in the City of Ann Arbor, but do live in the school district. Washtenaw County Road Commission is responsible for plowing our roads. Past conversations have told us that they don’t use overtime to plow neighborhood roads. Last night at 7:30p I drove one street over to pick my daughter up at a friend’s house. We had walked there before dark using the long route on sidewalks. I had trudged home through the common area connecting our houses through knee-deep snow. My road was fine however the next street was not. My street and the entrance/exit to the neighborhood were easily passable by my SUV because someone on my street pays for a private plow for their driveway and they plowed their way in and out. My section of the street was passable because of the number of cars that have been stuck (at least 5 since Sunday night) that have been dug out. On the next street over which hadn’t seen a private plow, the bottom of my SUV was scraping the snow between the ruts that other SUVs/Trucks had created. There was no way that a car could traverse that road.


On Facebook, I am reading comments that streets around schools (including the one my daughter attends) are not well plowed.

I don’t think the district had any choice but to cancel school. I do think that they had the information needed to reach that conclusion last night giving parents time to prepare (or avoid a 5a wake-up call).

My Observations from Driving

This morning my daughter and I drove my husband to work. The bulk of my neighborhood is only passable in an SUV/truck. As I returned home, I saw a minivan digging himself out one block over. Washtenaw Ave going into town was down to 1.5 lanes after the Stadium split. Roads around the Medical School were hit and miss, some were pretty good, others were not so good. The University was still clearing sidewalks and paths in the area.


In general, once you leave a neighborhood the roads are passable – some better than others.

Ideas for Today

If you’re lucky enough to have been plowed, I recommend sledding as a fun activity (perhaps Rolling Hills or another favorite location).

Personally, today is Girl Scout Cookie Pickup day in the Ann Arbor area for troops. I’ll be working there this morning and sorting my troop’s cookies this afternoon. I have spent the morning e-mailing with other troop cookie contacts, talking to the council, and making my own arrangements for my daughter.

Disclaimer: I am compensated for sales through iTunes and Amazon.

Since we’ll be home, I am planning to buy Big Hero 6 which was released on digital today so my daughter and friends can watch while we sort Girl Scout Cookies. It is available in iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Google Play. My daughter loved Big Hero 6.

Inadequate Resources

I believe the reason that school had to be closed today is a matter of inadequate resources. Ann Arbor & Washtenaw County seems to be staffed (manpower, equipment, and policies) to handle 2-3″ of snow at a time. With minimal snow and adequate tires, even most cars can make it out of neighborhoods that aren’t plowed for 2-3 days. However, the same does not hold true for a 14″ snow storm.

My husband and I both grew up in the mid-Atlantic region. While the winter snow totals in Pennsylvania and Delaware where we lived were lower than in metro Detroit, they tend to receive the bulk of their snow in large scale Nor’easters. Snow storms of 18+” happen every couple of years. Accordingly, they are staffed and equipped to handle the large scale dumping of snow.

A couple of years ago, we drove out to visit for Christmas and drove through the night arriving at my brother’s at 3a Saturday morning as the snow started. They had 2′ of snow through the day on Saturday. By 10a on Sunday morning, my brother’s neighborhood and others around them were clear.



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Anna Mae

Anna Mae owns & operates Ann Arbor with Kids, a website dedicated to Family Activities in Ann Arbor. My husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and our daughter joined the family in 2006.

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One comment

  • Avatar Amy D

    I have to admit that Chelsea does an amazing job of getting rows plowed quickly and effectively. Our roads were very clear by Monday morning.

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