Are we getting ready to have a big ice snow storm, or is it all going to blow out with the wind?
According to the National Weather Service out of Wilmington, they expect widespread rainfall to move across the state beginning on the morning of Friday, January 12. From Friday afternoon into Saturday morning, the rain is expected to transition to other precipitation types, including freezing rain, sleet, or snow. A southwest to northeast oriented band of heavy snow will likely set up, with freezing rain accumulating to the east of the heavy snow band.
At press time, the transition – both timing and location – from rain to snow/freezing rain/sleet is difficult to forecast, but early models indicate that some areas in Ohio could see up to 12 inches of snow, while other areas across the state could see up to 0.25” of ice accumulation.
By Saturday, winds are expected to pick up (gusts up to 30 mph) and arctic air will move back into the region after the cold front moves through. Currently, the Weather Prediction Center has a 70-90% chance that much of northern and western Ohio will have snowfall totals exceeding 3 inches from the storm (see map).
Darren LeBrun, the Scioto County Engineer said their main focus will be pretreating the roads, especially anytime there is ice in the forecast.
“We pretreat, that way if it hits the road, it can help, because our trucks have trouble in ice, just like other vehicles,” LeBrun said.
Like the rest of the community the County Engineer watched the changes as the storm forecast is updated.
”Our goals for a storm coming up like they are predicting as it stands right now, is pretreat on Friday, see what the storm gives us and then follow-up, get everything off the road,” he stated.
He told of what the upcoming days mean for his staff, “Our guys will come in late we’ll probably send them home to eat and rest, then we’ll see what happens and when the time comes, we’ll probably bring them in late tomorrow night or early Saturday morning. As for if we do get that big amount of snow, we try to manage it as best we can, first and foremost, we try to clear off the roads as safe as we can. If we end of up getting more than is forecast, we’ll change our game plan once it’s done, we’ll start getting everything cleared off for the Saturday morning commute as fast as we can get it done.”
Kathleen Fuller Public Information Officer for ODOT District 9 echoed keeping an eye on the storm and preparing for the outcome.
Fuller said, “Basically having our trucks ready to go, we won’t pretreat with brine, because we are going to have rain in advance and that would simply wash off the pre-treat.”
She said on Friday they will have the trucks ready and will set up shifts of the time to get rolling according to the latest forecast.
“If we know when it is going to turn to freezing rain, we want our crews to already be out on the road patrolling and then start treating what is needed the most first,” she added.
Managing materials according to what comes first is an important part of the plan.
“Plows are already on the truck, so it’s a combination then of materials management, so we’ll start with treating, if we start with the predicted ice, we want the materials down once it changes over to snow, we are maintaining salt and it is very effectively down to 21-20 degrees, but once it gets below 20, it starts to lose its effectiveness we’ll use a calcium-chloride spray which helps it make it react at a lower temperature, so we will continue treating with the treated (sprayed) salt,” Fuller stated.
Fuller said there is a bit of an art and science, if the snow starts accumulating they don’t want to plow off the materials.
Both LeBrun and Fuller gave travel tips as to first and foremost, listen to the weather forecast, if there is business you can take care of ahead of time, try to do so. if you have to get out, plan ahead, allow that extra time to get where you are going, make sure you have plenty of gasoline in your vehicle, so you don’t run out.
Lebrun also said, “It wouldn’t hurt to have an extra jacket, in case something does happen while you are out, so you have some sort of protection with you.”
The best advice may be if you don’t have to go out, don’t. Let the crews try to get everything cleared off the best they can as quickly and safely as they are able.
For this upcoming storm, it seems to lend to the saying, ‘Timing is of the essence.’
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928