Freezing rain wreaks havoc on some southeastern Michigan roadways, airport runways

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ROMULUS, Michigan — A batch of freezing rain wreaked havoc on Michigan roadways and runways Saturday, causing many vehicle crashes and temporarily grounding flights at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Icy runways kept planes from arriving and departing for a couple of hours Saturday morning at the airport in the Detroit suburb of Romulus. A Delta Air Lines plane arriving from Portland, Oregon, landed about 7 a.m. but skidded off the taxiway into grass, and all passengers were safely transported to the terminal.

Airport spokesman Michael Conway said runways have reopened and flights were "slowly" resuming, as airlines tried to whittle down the backlog of delayed flights.

"We got really socked by Mother Nature here with this ice storm," he said. "The whole airfield iced over at the same time. Our crews on the midnight shift had pretreated with de-icing fluid and sand, but (the storm) overwhelmed our work."

Parts of M-14 in western Wayne County's Plymouth Township were closed after a pileup of about two dozen vehicles. The Ann Arbor News reported that two people were injured. North Interstate 675 was also closed in Saginaw County because of ice, according to The Saginaw News.

Emergency crews responded to numerous spinouts and overturned vehicles across the region.

The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for much of the Lower Peninsula on Saturday morning, but it expired as temperatures rose.

"There was at least a trace (of ice) but that's sometimes all it takes to create that slippery surface," said meteorologist Matt Mosteiko of the weather service's White Lake Township office. "It wasn't really the weather, it was the effect."

Temperatures are on an upward swing for a couple days, forecast to reach 50 by Sunday in the Detroit area. Mosteiko says it's only about 4 degrees above normal for the area, but will seem balmy by comparison.

"That's quite a reprieve from some pretty harsh weather we've been experiencing lately," he said.

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