As the temperatures dropped into single digits and snow blanketed the county Thursday night into Friday, road crews were out and drivers were mostly being cautious.
According to Washington Court House Assistant Service Director Gary Dean and Fayette County Engineer Steve Luebbe, both city and county supplies of salt are in solid shape for the winter season.
The city salt supply, according to Dean, is better this year than the previous. There are at least 1,207 tons of salt in stock in one location and a smaller stockpile in a second location.
When there is only a small amount of snow like Thursday night, salt is used. When there are larger amounts of snow, Dean explained they don’t use as much salt since the roads will be plowed. City roads are typically plowed when there are three or more feet of snow.
Part of plowing roads is prioritizing which roads to maintain. The first roads taken care of are the main roads through town, then roads near the hospital, nursing homes, fire department, EMS, sheriff’s office and police department are maintained.
“After we do that, then we’ll branch off and start going into the residential areas,” said Dean.
In relation to the county supply, Luebbe explained, “salt levels are over-full. We still have some left over from last winter. The way the salt companies run the contracts now we pre-order a certain amount, then have to take at least 90% and are entitled to no more than 110% of our pre-order. So, this causes us issues if we use either too much in a bad winter or not much in case of a mild winter. It’s the new normal though.”
The county runs 13 routes on a normal snow occurrence.
“When we get a snow event, pretty much everyone has a job assignment associated with clearing the snow. We have our plow drivers to clear the roads, but we also have the mechanics working on things, someone managing the salt pile and loading trucks, and people clearing the county lots. We also have someone managing the operation,” wrote Luebbe via email.
On Thursday night, county road crews were only out a few hours as, according to Luebbe, there isn’t much that can be done when there is only a dusting of snow and temperatures get really cold.
“The best thing to do is slow down and take it easy. There’s going to be slick spots whether we’ve treated the area or not,” he wrote. “Each snow event gets treated a little differently, because they are all different, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work. All of our roads get treated. It just depends on what order, but none get missed. The drivers use a lot of their own judgement in what needs more attention. Most of them have been doing this a long time, and they know their route and what works best — but it’s based largely on traffic volumes and the location of the road in proximity to the office as to what makes the most efficient route.”
According to Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, the county responded to only one injury accident, which was on Interstate 71, during initial snowfall.
“Throughout the evening, several slide-offs on secondary roads were handled with minimal responders. Most were merely wrenched out by tow companies or private individuals,” explained Stanforth. “Road crews are commended for their prompt responses across the county. In some instances, local crews assisted motorists in minor slide-offs on back roads.”
Both Fayette Christian School and Miami Trace Local Schools cancelled school Friday.
Next week looks better for school to remain in session as, according to www.weather.com, there is no snow in the upcoming forecasts.
Saturday, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s with a mixture of sunshine and cloudiness. There is a 97% chance for rain Saturday night.
Sunday is expected to be a bit colder with a low of 16 degrees along with an approximate 80% chance of rain.
Monday is expected to have a mixture of sunshine and cloudiness with only a 4% chance of a wintry mix.
Tuesday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high of 24 degrees and a low of 17 degrees.
For the remainder of the week, temperatures mostly range between 30 and 45 degrees with a chance for rain increasing each day.
“As the temperatures rise throughout the weekend, roadways will return to normal conditions,” Stanforth said.
For school closures and delays, as well as severe weather notifications, use Nixle by texting the appropriate zip code to 888-777 and/or download the Fayette County’s Sheriff’s Office app by searching “faycoso” in the appropriate app store.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.