Snow alert: Thumb pulls out its mittens – and shovels

Steve Wilkins, an employee at Gambles Do-It-Best Hardware in downtown Caro, stacks bags of salt Friday. The National Weather Service is calling for up to 7 inches of snow late Sunday and into Monday morning. (Photo by John Cook)
Steve Wilkins, an employee at Gambles Do-It-Best Hardware in downtown Caro, stacks bags of salt Friday. The National Weather Service is calling for up to 7 inches of snow late Sunday and into Monday morning. (Photo by John Cook)

If you seek a reason to slide on a sled – or slip into a Snuggie – meteorologists say Sunday’s weather in the Thumb area should accommodate you.
“For me, it’s a good time for pajamas, blankets and staying inside,” said Debra Elliott, a National Weather Service meteorologist calling for four to seven inches of snow in southeast Michigan – including the Thumb region – beginning Sunday night.
“It looks like it has the potential to be a decent snowmaker for pretty much all of southeast Michigan, with a widespread snow probability of four to seven inches beginning very late Sunday night to early Monday morning,” said Elliott, of the weather service office in Oakland County’s White Lake Township. While a snowstorm might be an occasion to curl up indoors for some Michiganders, it’s a call to action for Corey Haubenstricker of Vassar, owner of the Timber Oaks Lawn & Snow business based in Vassar.
Snow removal “is what we’re in the business to do, but there’s a little anxiety to make sure that we have enough equipment up and running, and that the guys are ready to go, and to make sure our scheduling is down where we can accommodate everybody, and get everybody’s snow moved out in a timely manner,” Haubenstricker said.
Timber Oaks Lawn & Snow’s 15 employees operate four plow trucks, a salt-spreading truck and form two snow-blowing crews. The business removes snow for commercial and residential customers, and readers may call Haubenstricker at 989-882-1167.
Jason Kuhne, owner of Gambles Do It Best Hardware, 302 N. State St. in Caro, said he’s prepared for the winter with hundreds of snow shovels and ice melters in stock.
“I’ve been listening to the weather – can’t believe what they say anyhow – but I listen,” Kuhne said. “I think it’s gonna be worse from last year.”
Winds from the west or northwest, of about 10 mph on Sunday and 12 mph on Monday, will visit the Thumb area, said Elliott, noting wind gusts could reach 20 mph on Monday.
“I’ve learned from doing snow for the last 10 years that you almost have to wake up and decide what’s there,” Haubenstricker said. “They can predict the weather, but until it’s here you don’t really know, or have a good grasp on it.”
Elliott said Sunday’s snow will extend “from the Thumb all the way down to the Ohio border.”
“It’s probably going to be over by the time school starts on Monday, so I don’t know if students are going to get a snow day out of it or not; it depends on how efficient the snowplows are on Monday,” Elliott said.
The high temperature will be about 26 degrees around Tuscola County today, with a high of about 30 degrees on Sunday and about 32 degrees on Monday – before a chill comes around.
“On Tuesday morning you’ll wake up to temperatures right around 20 degrees, and your high temperatures deteriorate through the rest of the week,” Elliott said. She calls for a high temperature in Tuscola County of about 28 degrees on Tuesday, 17 degrees on Wednesday and 13 degrees on Thursday.
“There’s a good deal of cold air coming in on the back side of this (snow),” Elliott said.
Dunn Hardware, 2023 Gates St. in Reese, carries a special item to fight cold weather – the Milwaukee heated jacket powered by batteries and using carbon fiber heating elements to generate and trap heat. Wearers push a button to increase or decrease heat level.
Dunn Hardware assistant manager John Hollingshead said the store carries hats, gloves and the typical shovels priced from $20 to $25. Sales of rock salt and tube sand also increase during a blizzard, he said.
Sean Dicks, manager of the Big Acre store at 610 N. State St. in Caro, said last year’s mild winter caused sales to decrease, hitting his store hard.
A snowstorm helps bring in more customers, Dicks said, noting people procrastinate when they need to start preparing, but when the snow comes they tend to stock up.
The store offers a variety of rock salt/ice melters including brands safe for pets, eight to 10 different brands of shovels, Carhartt clothing for men and women, and wood pellets to burn in stoves.
Bad weather also means it will be hard for birds to find food, said Dicks, noting Big Acre carries a variety of non-domestic bird food.
The Tractor Supply Co. store at 1255 M-24 E. Cameron Road near Caro, offers various items to cope with storms – or power outages: shovels, flares, driveway markers, emergency triangles if one gets in an accident, hand/foot warmers, propane tanks and propane, and wood pellets.
But generators are the store’s most popular seller during a blizzard.
“Last year we were the store for generators,” said Lauren Teno, team leader at Tractor Supply Co. “Generators are the first to go and they always seem to be the first ones to go when a storm hits.”
Thumb residents should prepare for the snowstorm by obtaining fuel and insulated clothing, and making sure everything works appropriately, Teno said.
Kuhne, of Gambles Do It Best Hardware, stressed that residents should prepare with emergency mittens, warm hats inside of their cars and an emergency snow shovel.
Debanina Seaton contributed to this report.
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

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