Powerful winter storm socks Midwest
By DENISE DICK
Though the Mahoning Valley dodged a big snowball Sunday, forecasts show the real pummeling is on the way tonight.
Kristen Schuler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said about 2 to 4 inches of snow is expected in the Youngstown area today with an additional 3 to 7 inches tonight.
“It will be locally heavy in some locations due to the lake effect,” Schuler said. “It’s a matter of how lake effect bands are going to set up.”
That’s on top of the one to three inches that were forecast to fall Sunday night.
It will be worse in Trumbull County. NWS’s Web site shows that some areas in the northern part of the county could get 4 to 8 inches today and another 4 to 8 inches tonight.
Parts of Columbiana County will see less snow with 2 to 4 inches expected today with another 1 to 2 inches tonight. That county won’t be spared from the frigid temperatures though with a wind chill of 4 degrees below 0 expected tonight.
And it still won’t be over.
The snow showers will persist Tuesday, tapering Tuesday evening. Wind chill values as low as two below zero are expected Tuesday with a high of 12 Tuesday night, NWS’s Web site shows. The winter storm warning remains in effect through 7 a.m. Wednesday.
“That’s because of high winds, blowing and drifting snow and wind chills,” she said.
While temperatures are expected to be between 19 and 20 degrees, this morning’s rush hour could see wind chill temperatures of 0 degrees. Sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph are predicted with gusts of about 33 mph.
“This area of low pressure is very strong,” Schuler said.
Temperatures on the low 20s are expected Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Thursday looks a little better, it will be dry,” she said. “We’ll get a break in the snow on Thursday and into Friday.”
But more snow is expected for the weekend.
Justin Chesnic, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4, which includes Mahoning and Trumbull counties, said ODOT will have between 35 and 40 trucks out to battle the snow and ice.
“They work on 12-hour shifts, around the clock on this type of storm,” he said. “The bottom line is we plan to have crews constantly out there.”
With such low temperatures, salt alone isn’t enough to combat the icy roads so ODOT uses a calcium chloride, a salt and calcium cocktail.
“We can fight the snow a little bit better,” Chesnic said.
With blowing and drifting snow in the forecast, though, he cautions motorists to be careful. Even with round-the-clock plowing, crews can’t do much if a 40 mph gust blows snow over a just-plowed roadway.
“All we can do is keep plowing and treating the roads,” Chesnic said.
Motorists should drive slowly, leave extra room between vehicles and give snowplows plenty of room, he said.
Mayor Jay Williams said the city is also poised to respond to the storm.
“We’ll be running two 12-hour shifts with between 15 and 18 trucks on the road during those shifts with the ability to have, not only the plow drivers, but the supervisors in the truck,” he said.
The city also has sufficient salt on hand to battle this storm with more on the way to get through the remainder of the season.
“We’re also, obviously in contact on an ongoing basis with the Youngstown Police Department and with ODOT,” Williams said.
If the situation calls for it, the city may impose a parking ban.
The city also has graders from construction companies on standby in case the snow reaches a level where snow plows aren’t as effective, he said.
“We’re prepared now and we’ll take it as it comes,” Williams said.