(02/19/13) - It can happen in an instant. During the winter, Mid-Michigan drivers can find themselves in hazardous conditions in just a matter of seconds.
This year, that has included two major pile-up accidents on US-23 in Southern Genesee County in less than a month. Now we're getting a better sense of what makes that area so dangerous.
There was a 32 car pile-up along US 23 between Thomson and Grand Blanc Roads on Jan. 31, and just last weekend - a bit further south - a similar scene along the same stretch of road. This time, 21 cars were involved.
Witnesses reported "white out" conditions moments before the accidents.
"Once we came to a complete stop, all we could hear is 'boom, boom' and cars just hitting each other," said Camilla Smith.
"That area down there first of all is open on the east and west sides and then that's the prevailing wind because it's coming from a south west to north east, and so it's blowing the snow across there," said John Daly, director of the Genesee County Road Commission.
Daly tells us white out conditions have been especially prevalent this season, and they're likely not over.
"I would expect that we're going to see it several more times during this year, so people need to be attentive and listen to what's going on with the weather," Daly said.
A white out is, essentially, blinding conditions created by blowing snow. You could compare it to a photograph - one moment it's clear as day, but if the sun is angled just right, the reflection can create a blinding light.
While it can happen within seconds, Daly says there are some precautions we can take.
"The way people can avoid that situation is you can't wait until the last minute to make your decision, that as the visibility starts to deteriorate, go ahead and pull off to the side of the road," he said.
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