Samantha Fox, 18, looks uphill as she scouts an opening for her friend Skylar Rundle, not pictured, to take off during Cannonsburg Ski Hill's opening day on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 in Belmont, Mich. (AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Matthew Busch)
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Southeastern Michigan's first big winter storm dumped more than half a foot of snow Wednesday, causing widespread accidents and forcing hundreds of flight cancellations or delays at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The storm also led Gov. Rick Snyder to delay signing some bills passed in the Legislature's end-of-year session.
The fringe of a winter storm centred farther south pushed into populous metropolitan Detroit on Wednesday afternoon. Snowfalls were already nearing the 7 inches forecast by Wednesday night, with 6.5 inches near Ann Arbor.
The Brighton area and Eastpointe had 6 inches, Lake Orion and Troy 5.5 inches, and Riverview 5.2 inches by 8:30 p.m., the National Weather Service said. It said the snow would taper off Thursday.
At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, at least 10 flights were cancelled or rerouted and at least 240 others delayed by an hour or more Wednesday.
Crashes on slippery streets and highways were keeping police busy through the afternoon and evening across southern Michigan. A stretch of Interstate 96 in Kent County was shut down for some time Wednesday afternoon, authorities told Mlive.com.
At an Aco Hardware store in Southfield, instead of the usual day-after-Christmas gift exchange rush, people were stocking up for the storm, assistant manager Chris Mokrzycki said.
"It's been quite a blast — tons of customers," said Mokrzycki, 23. "We've already sold a pallet of ice melter. This is the first time we're finally seeing the snow supplies flying off the shelves."
At a Dunkin' Donuts in nearby Oak Park, retiree Ernie Marable cradled a hot drink after gassing up his snow blower.
Marable, 65, said he didn't put much stock in the snowfall forecasts and said he was preparing for the worst.
"When they say four to eight inches, it could be two feet," he said. "I didn't even hear the amount of inches. I just heard 'snowstorm,'" he said.
The lightly populated Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula got their first big seasonal storm last week, with some areas getting up to 20 inches of snow. Modest snowfall across lower Michigan was enough to snarl traffic and cause dozens of accidents on Christmas Eve.