Update: Weather prompts closures

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Thursday, Feb. 23: Due to inclement weather, according to the City of Grand Rapids’ website, all Grand Rapids Public Library locations are closed and today’s events have been canceled or postponed. In addition, morning kickboxing class is canceled today. Programs for ages 50 and up at Garfield Park Community Gym are canceled today and ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle is delayed until at least noon today.

A winter storm that brought wind, sleet, snow and freezing rain to the region caused the shuttering of schools, businesses and churches today and yesterday. Areas impacted by winds and the mixed bag of precipitation include Clinton, Gratiot, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa Counties.

Throughout the duration of the storm, according to the  National Weather Service, power outages and tree damage are likely due to ice. “Travel could be nearly impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the evening commute. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches.”

Living in a state beset with the phenomenon of what is known as lake effect weather, it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether a storm system is unique to our locality or part of a greater pattern. In the case of the current storm, children from Minnesota to Michigan children rejoiced Tuesday evening with the early news of school cancellations. States as far as Maine are announcing closures ahead of tomorrow’s impact as the system is progressing eastward. 

Multiple Ash Wednesday services scheduled for today have also been canceled. An alert posted on the Diocese of Grand Rapids website urges people to contact their local parish to confirm whether Ash Wednesday Mass is occurring:  “Due to the current winter storm warning and potentially hazardous conditions today, it is possible some parishes may alter their Ash Wednesday Mass schedules.”

A media advisory from City of Grand Rapids public information officer Steve Guitar stated, “Tonight’s Community Master Plan Launch Party canceled,” and urges people who were planning to attend tonight’s meeting at Union High School to register for tomorrow’s meeting, instead. 

Area businesses are following suit.

“Out of an abundance of caution for guests, volunteers, and staff, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park will be closed to the public on Wednesday,” read a statement from the popular West Michigan attraction.

Across the region a wintery mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain threatens commuters with slippery roads, according to the NWS, as east winds of  22 to 28 mph – with gusts as high as 41 mph – are expected. The chance of precipitation today is 100 percent, with new ice accumulation of around 0.2 of an inch possible. 

Tonight, east winds of 22 to 31 mph, with gusts as high as 47 mph, are forecasted. 

Be prepared for further closures as the mishmash of precipitation is expected to continue throughout the day Thursday, with a predicted daytime high of 41 degrees and a  low of 16 degrees Thursday night, with more gusty winds expected. The chance of precipitation for Thursday, according to the NWS, is 30 percent.

Register for City of Grand Rapids emergency alerts here.

While Gerald R. Ford International Airport is currently (at the time of posting of this article, 12:23 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023) reporting gate holds and taxi delays lasting 15 minutes or less, elsewhere, seasonal storms have grounded more than 900 flights and high coastal winds caused power outages to 140,000 electricity customers in California. 

According to multiple sources, winter weather is currently pummeling more than 22 states today.  Currently there are long delays reported at airports in Denver, New York City and Toronto, Canada. Check the current status of airports here


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