Storm presented many challenges


Frigid temperatures and high winds led to extremely hazardous road conditions throughout and surrounding Fayette County over the holiday weekend, putting a damper on the travel plans of many.

Fayette County was one of a handful of counties that reached a level three snow emergency due to impassable roads and very low visibility. The level three snow emergency lasted from approximately 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23 until it shifted to a level two at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. Fayette County remained on a level two until it was changed to level one at 11 a.m. on Christmas morning, and the level one snow emergency was lifted around 5 p.m. on Monday evening.

Fayette County Engineer Steve Luebbe spoke with the Record-Herald about the recent winter storm on Tuesday. According to Luebbe, there aren’t any roads in the county that are currently shut down, but there were a couple that they struggled to keep open throughout the weekend due to the wind.

So, what were the biggest challenges for the engineer’s office crews with this particular storm?

“The high winds and excessive cold certainly made this storm more of a challenge,” Luebbe said. “Visibility was cut way down and the constant and immediate drifting can make it difficult to just stay on the road. The trucks also began to have issues in such extreme cold, so it becomes more difficult to keep everyone out on their route.”

When asked about the current salt supply, Luebbe replied, “We are fully stocked with salt. For storms like this weekend, we don’t put down salt. Its effectiveness is zero, and in fact it can worsen roadway conditions when the wind blows that much. Today (Tuesday), we’re putting it down since the temperatures have risen to the point that it is effective. The weather conditions dictate how we treat the roads to get the best possible results from the resources we have. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to clearing the roads.”

Luebbe finished by giving thanks to those who worked on clearing the roads over the weekend.

“I think our highway workers did an incredible job for Fayette County during this storm. They worked long hours all weekend, spending a lot of time away from their families this Christmas. I’m not sure people appreciate how stressful driving a snow plow can be, both mentally and physically. We’re lucky to have a crew that cares so much about what they do,” he said.

While Christmas weekend saw negative temperatures with snow and high winds, New Year’s Eve weekend is predicted to have temperatures in the 50s with mild winds and rain in the forecast.

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