By BRIAN BOHNERT
Just two weeks removed from a storm system that brought sub-zero temperatures and nearly a foot of snow to the area, round two is expected to strike this weekend.
And with wind chills nearing -20 degrees and snowfall amounts of up to half a foot possible in some spots, city officials are preparing for battle to keep Fostorians safe.
“With this storm, our main concern is to make sure we keep the roads open,” Safety Service Director Allyson Murray said. “Also, with these temperatures, the salt is pretty ineffective when it gets this cold. So, the plan is to remove the snow from the first round on Saturday; and, with temps expected to get above zero Sunday, the plan is to get salt down (then).”
The city’s salt supplier, Morton Salt, is three weeks behind on its delivery, but Murray said the Fostoria Street Department has enough at its disposal to make it through this bout of arctic weather.
“We’re hoping to get salt down in time for the morning commute on Monday,” she said. “But our main focus is getting the snow off the roads, getting the roads open and then look at salting the slick spots.”
To ensure all city-owned vehicles were primed and ready for duty, Murray said street department employees were hard at work Friday, performing general maintenance on plows to guarantee optimum performance.
In addition, she said crews spent some of the day pushing back larger drifts on outlying streets to make room for the next round of snow, which was set to drop one to three inches overnight Friday and into Saturday as temperatures were forecast to fall to around 14 degrees.
According to a hazardous weather briefing by the National Weather Service office in Cleveland, the forecast for today calls for one to two inches of snow with a breezy southwest wind of 18-22 mph. Blowing and drifting snow is possible throughout the morning as the temperature will reach a high of about 20 degrees. Snow will continue tonight as temperatures drop to around zero degrees with the wind chill plummeting to as low as -16 degrees in some areas.
Approximately one to three inches of additional snow is expected to fall throughout the area Sunday with blowing and drifting snow increasing as winds pick up to approximately 25 mph.
“Arctic air” will arrive Monday, keeping temperatures in the single digits until Wednesday with the coldest air Monday night and Tuesday night. Wind chills of -20 degrees or colder are possible.
Dan Stahl, director of Seneca County Emergency Management Agency, said he urges caution when planning to venture outdoors in bitterly cold temperatures.
“The best thing is, if you don’t need to go outside when these conditions exist, don’t go outside. Stay indoors as much as possible,” Stahl said. “And, if you do have to go out, dress in layers. This is a very dangerous situation.”
For those who have to drive on the roads this weekend, Stahl recommends traveling with an emergency kit in the vehicle. Items like extra clothing, food, blankets and flashlights are essential for this type of weather, he said.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory and a hazardous weather outlook statement effective until 10 p.m. today.
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