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Ready For Another Snow Event?

Updated: 2/1/2013 6:15 P.M.

A long night early Friday for highway road crews in both West Virginia and Ohio. That's because the area's latest round of snow came as thursday became friday.

"There were some slick roads. The roads were snow covered," said Curtis Richards, Highway Administrator, West Virginia Division of Highways. "We were out working all night. They went out late last night, they probably went out around midnight real heavy."

While the plows remove the snow, what really clears the roadways is road salt. In years past, road departments have had to monitor their salt supplies the longer the winter lasts. But departments in both states believe their supplies are in good shape.

"We had a mild winter last year, so we still had some in surplus," Richards says. "We're doing pretty good on salt so far."

They've also been successful at keeping the cost down. In the case,of the Ohio Department of Transportation, that's thanks to some strategy when it comes to bidding.

"This past year, we probably saved a few million dollars because we delayed getting out the bid," says David Rose, ODOT Spokesman. "So we have plenty of salt, we're stocked, and ready to fight the winter weather."

With more snow on the way, the road crews are just getting busier.

"Our mechanics are here around the clock," Rose says. "So, we're going to stockpile the materials, make sure the equipment is inspected, and get ready for this evening, because another event is coming, and we're ready and prepared."

The city of Parkersburg has more than two thousand tons of salt in stock, or what Public Works Director Rick Lemley calls a more than adequate supply, for the rest of the winter.

As far as the roads were concerned, motorists we spoke to said driving on area highways was fine.

"It's been very easy, very good," said Tracy Reagan of Morgantown. "The roads are in good shape."

But winds with gusts of 30 miles an hour.-or more-made keeping control of your vehicle a challenge at times. Combine that with the occasional heavy snowfall, and seeing the road could be a problem.
That was the case in Detroit, with this 40-vehicle pileup on a major freeway, blamed on "white-out" conditions, a combination of snow and high winds. Two children were reported dead. A similar chain reaction accident occurred on interstate 70 in the Indianapolis area.

"There are times you hit a good gust, and it will rack you around pretty good," Reagan said. "All in all, it's been all right, but the wind has been pretty heavy today."

"A few times, coming around certain streets, the wind would whip you around a little bit," said Dante Smith of Akron, headed south on I-77. "But as long as you drive safely, you'll be all right."

There had been little snow accumulation as of Thursday night, although the West Virginia Division of Highways had to send crews out Thursday morning to treat area roadways.

"With this extreme cold weather we'll be getting, especially with the wind, the ground is going to get cold pretty quick," said Rusty Roten, District 3 Engineer. "We probably will be having some issues in the next few days."

Things were far worse in southern West Virginia, with major flooding reported and power outages affecting more than 7,000 homes as of Thursday afternoon.


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