July 30, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
72°F
test

Get ready for snow: Almost a foot expected as blizzard blows through Ohio

Six to 10 inches of snow today and Thursday combined with wind gusts of up to 35 mph will make driving dangerous and even walking a hazard.

A blizzard warning takes effect at 7 a.m. and ends at 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, which predicts zero visibility at times this afternoon and evening. Snow is expected to end tonight.

The snow and wind may down electrical lines or trees. A service bulletin said driving will be “extremely dangerous” and recommends drivers carry a winter survival kit with them. “If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle,” the bulletin said.

While snow isn’t expected to start until between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., Lorain workers began pretreating roads as early as 3 a.m.

“We just don’t want to get behind early,” Safety-Service Director Robert Fowler said.

Lorain will have 15 plow trucks and five pickups equipped with plows. If conditions become severe, pickups will escort ambulances, fire trucks and police cruisers, said Fowler, who estimated roughly $25,000 is spent on gas and salt per storm.

After 2 inches of snowfall in Lorain, a parking ban takes effect to make plowing more effective. Fowler said police will try to warn drivers before ticketing or towing vehicles. Lorain’s website — cityoflorain.org — lists all the streets that will be plowed and salted.

Elyria, which will have seven dump trucks and about 25 smaller trucks plowing, has no parking. Mary Siwierka, Elyria’s safety service director, said a ban is difficult to enforce.

“We would just ask that people try to be as cooperative as possible,” she said. “If you can get the car off the street, it makes it a whole lot easier.”

Lorain Country will not be alone in dealing with the storm. The service also issued warnings for elsewhere in Ohio.

Blizzard conditions were possible for parts of Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky with predictions of 4 to 7 inches of snow. Much of Oklahoma and Arkansas braced under a winter storm warning of an early mix of rain and sleet forecast to eventually turn to snow. About a dozen counties in Missouri were under a blizzard warning from Tuesday night to noon today.

Some mountainous areas of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains could get up to 10 inches of snow, which would make travel “very hazardous or impossible” in the northern tier of the state from near whiteout conditions, the service said.

The blizzard would be the first substantial snowfall for Northeast Ohio since winter began Friday. Last year’s mild winter allowed Elyria and Lorain to stockpile salt, and both Fowler and Siwierka said they have plenty of it. Both urged residents to stockpile nonperishable food, water and supplies in the event of an electrical outage but asked them to avoid unnecessary driving.

Both said their street departments are well prepared for the storm.

“Whatever we need to do we’ll take care of,” Siwierka said. “We have to make sure the streets are clean and passable and people are safe.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.