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UPDATED: Winter weather warning for West Michigan

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KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Heavy snow and the forecast for temperatures well below zero has prompted a number of churches, most local schools, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and even some businesses and governments to close down operations on Monday. 

Winter Storm Warnings are in effect until 8 p.m. Monday evening for the lake shore counties, Kalamazoo, and Barry Counties because once the storm system blows through early Monday morning, Lake Effect snow is expected to begin. 

Wind Chill warnings go into effect for most of southern Michigan from 7 a.m. to 7.pm. Monday when the ambient temperatures are expected to dip to -4 degrees and the wind chill factors could dip to 20 to 30 below zero. 

  Cass County pulled their plow trucks off the road Sunday Evening because it became too dangerous to plow in the dark.   Their courts and county government will be closed on Monday and Cass County Sheriff Joe Underwood is telling residents to stay home and avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.

Calhoun County has declared a snow emergency, requiring motorists to get their cars off the road, if that is where they are parked, so plow trucks can get through. 

Rural and side roads are snow covered and slippery and difficult to navigate, and main roads are marginally better.

Travel is being discouraged if not necessary until plow trucks have a chance to catch up

Grocery stores were packed Saturday afternoon as residents stocked up on food and emergency supplies.  Concerns may have been heightened by memories of a recent Ice Storm that left many in the lurch and ill-prepared. 

.Here is some standard advice that has been issued by I & M Electric for it’s customers.

PREPARATION

• Public safety agencies and organizations strongly encourage all residents to have an emergency kit with flashlights, extra batteries, blankets, prescription medications and first aid supplies. Other useful items include a battery powered radio or TV

.• Stock up on nonperishable foods.• Keep cell phones charged

.• If you plan to use a portable generator, make sure it is placed outside and consult a licensed electrician for proper installation

.• If someone in your home depends on electricity for medical reasons, make plans for alternate lodging should the power be out for an extended period of time.

SAFETY

• Please be extremely careful if using space heaters. Make sure they are at least 3 feet away from anything that could burn, including walls.

• Use caution and follow manufacturers’ ventilation and other safety instructions if using other home heating sources such as wood stoves, kerosene heaters or fireplaces

.• Do not use stoves or other appliances not made for home heating as a heat source.

USE ENERGY WISELY

• Keep doors and windows closed. Keep fireplace dampers closed when not in use

.• Set your thermostat to the desired temperature; setting it higher than desired will not heat your home any faster.

• Turn down your thermostat before leaving your home for extended periods

.• Keep curtains and shades closed – except for those facing the sun, which should be open.

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