Area braces for weather whopper

While spring may be just around the corner, winter is not quite ready to let go and has the area bracing for a storm that could bring more than 6 inches of snow.

The next major winter storm, Titan, will be striking the area on Sunday evening, said Meteorologist Ray Young with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va.

“We have a major winter storm headed your direction,” he said. “Regardless, your area’s going to get pounded. There are going to be large amounts of sleet and freezing rain…with snow on the back side of it. This is a storm definitely for people to pay attention to.”

Young said the storm would move in toward Sunday evening and stay a major event through Monday. He said depending on the track of the storm, the area could see more freezing rain or more snow and sleet.

Andy Roche, weather service meteorologist, said the impact on Sunday should be 6.5 inches of accumulation, both sleet and snow, but the bulk would be snow. He said another 2 inches are expected through the day on Monday.

Regardless of which direction the weather system decides to take, the Ohio Department of Transportation District 10 is going to be prepared, said David Rose, ODOT District 10 communications manager.

“We’ve been battling all winter,” Rose said, adding that equipment is checked regularly to make sure it’s fine-tuned. He said that drivers will work 12 to 16 hour shifts to ensure that roadways stay clear and passable.

Rose said the way ODOT prepares doesn’t change, but the material does.

“At 20 degrees to 32 degrees, we’re going to be using brine or salt,” he said. “On hilly areas and curvy areas, we’ll add some sand to create traction. Monday it looks like 2 degrees or lower. In that case we change up the use of our materials. We’ll use a liquid de-icer, calcium chloride; it has a much lower freezing point.”

Russ Cogswell, owner of Apex True Value, said calls have been coming in from people wanting to stock up on winter items.

“We have no salt and no de-icer,” he said Friday. “We’re out of snow shovels and we’ve quit buying heaters. We’re kind of gearing up for spring already.”

Cogswell said Apex did have about 80 bags of Urea fertilizer, which is all-nitrogen and can be used as a de-icer in temperatures around 15 degrees.

Mike Morrison, manager at Warren’s IGA, said during morning hours Friday, there hadn’t been much of an increase in traffic through the door.

“I think it’s a little early to tell yet; (Saturday) is the first of the month and our Super Saturday Sale,” he said. “It could really make for a huge day tomorrow.”

Despite not noticing an increase in traffic, Morrison said he expected the staple items to go quickly, including milk, eggs, bread and water. He also said batteries would probably go fast.

Bucky Lee, manager of Food 4 Less, said the store had seen more faces during the early afternoon on Friday.

“It’s just starting,” he said. “We’ve seen a little heavier traffic already.”

Lee said the majority of shoppers were elderly, who were most likely getting out early to make sure they had enough necessities to last through the storm.

Marietta resident John Boyd, 65, said he isn’t stocking up on anything because he lives close to the supermarket.

“If it snows too much, I can go on foot,” he said.

He said he is not fond of announcements of winter storms.

“I think it’s stupid that if a forecaster even breathes the word snow, people get in a panic and buy lots of stuff,” he said. “A woman in front of me checked out with over $214 worth of groceries.”

Lee added that the majority of residents are most likely used to winter weather already.

“People are used to it a little bit, but the power outages are probably in the back of everybody’s mind,” he said.

Young said power outages are possible for the Marietta area, depending on the amount of freezing rain the area gets.

Some local residents were preparing for the storm on Friday.

Kathy Sayre, 58, of Noble County, said she was stocking up and wasn’t pleased.

“Bread, milk, lunch meat, eggs, all the basics,” she said. “I’m not happy with it. I’m not a cold weather person.”

Marsha Schaad, of Marietta, said she was stocked up, but winter weather shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

“Winter’s always something that’s going to happen,” she said. “The four seasons are great and they’re to be expected.”

Rose said that usually in a typical winter, ODOT will use about 25,000 tons of salt.

“This winter, it’s more than doubled; we’re at 51,000 tons,” he said.

Rose said road prep is already ongoing; brine has been put down on major roads and ODOT plow drivers will be ready to go Saturday.

“Our ultimate goal is to make sure the truck is stocked,” he said, adding that way each driver could just hop in it and go out to treat the roads.

Rose said in addition to the increase of salt, there’s also been an increase of accidents with snow plows. He said only a couple have happened locally, but accidents are occurring all over the state.

Rose asked that drivers pay attention to their surroundings during the weekend.

“Please, put the phone down, pay attention and please don’t crowd the plow,” he said. “Be responsible and keep each other safe while we’re out there.”

Cogswell had a good piece of advice for residents during the winter event.

“Stay home,” he said. “If it gets really icy or something, most people don’t have to be out. Probably the best advice is to stay home and wait it out.”