If you have lived through at least one Michigan winter, you know that they are no fun. Now the national media group Thrillist has published a subjective ranking of the country’s winter conditions. Their writers agree, Michigan is just about the worst.
Thrillist isn’t the place you go for authoritative journalism. Their ranking posts aren’t based on objective data or scientific research. But every once and a while, their articles just feel right.
In the first days of 2017, Kevin Alexander and Matt Lynch wrote “Every State, Ranked by How Miserable Its Winters Are“. Michigan was nearly the top (or bottom) of the list, second only to Minnesota. The article was well enough received that Mlive.com reported on it. According to the news article:
“The rankings were put together by research and debate, and using factors such as weather patterns, average temperatures, interviews with residents, success rates of winter sports teams and the effectiveness in safely clearing the roads.”
But of all those factors, it was the roads that pushed Michigan to the top of the list. Thrillist opines:
“For the Michigander, this is winter: you leave work at 5 or 6, already in the dead of night, and fight your way down 94 or 96 or 75 or whatever Godforsaken stretch of highway. You can’t even tell if it is drizzling rain or snow, because the brown salt sludge that sprays up off the road coats your windshield more completely than anything that falls from the sky. Overnight, the road freezes. In the morning you wake up and it is still dark. You scrape off your car, then get stuck in traffic as the cars ahead of you gawk at the SUV that has slid into the ditch. You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt. Even then, you do not go skiing, because there are no hills.”
Beyond the cold, dark, and clouds, one thing stood out to Thrillist Deputy Editor Bison Messink, a self-described “recovering Michigander”: the roads. His description of a Michigan winter is focused on the poor and often dangerous road conditions that result in thousands of crashes every winter.
In fact, in a recent report by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, 12% of all Michigan traffic accidents in 2015 were because of the state’s wintery weather. And that number only includes crashes reported to police. Thousands more Michigan drivers have had to dig themselves out of ditches or driveways, but have done so without the help of police.
If anything can be learned from Thrillist’s ranking of Michigan winters it’s that we need to take our winter driving more seriously. Snow, slush, and salt can all turn a daily commute into an obstacle course. Be safe and take it slow to avoid becoming part of next year’s statistics.