Another storm and colder temperatures could make a headache for travelers this weekend.
By AMY L. Knapp
Independent staff writer
The first day back on the job for many after the holiday began with a treacherous drive to work Thursday, and for those traveling this weekend, it likely won’t be much better.
A steady snow fell for most of the day, and the area was expected to get 3 to 5 inches during the day with an additional 1 to 2 overnight. According to the National Weather Service as of 5 p.m., 3.6 inches of snow had fallen at the Akron-Canton Airport since midnight.Karen Oudeman, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said little to no snow accumulation is expected for today and Saturday, but a new system will bring snow to the area Sunday.
Estimated snowfall totals were not available for Sunday, but Oudeman said it will be a “plowable event.
“It will be warmer (Sunday) around 30 degrees,” she said. “The snow will begin pulling away Sunday night and as it does, we will get a good rush of cold air — some of the coldest we have seen in some years.”
Monday’s high will be in the mid-teens, but it will feel below zero, she said.
“Monday night it gets worse with the overnight low at 8 degrees below zero,” Oudeman said. “There might be some wind, but it won’t take much to make it feel much colder (than it is).”
A warmup is not expected until Thursday when the high reaches 29, she said.
ON THE ROAD
Many people will hit the roadway this weekend returning home from their holiday travels or returning to college after the winter break.
Road crews from the Ohio Department of Transportation will be out in full force, Brent Kovacs, ODOT public information officer for District 4, said.
“Our biggest challenge is keeping up with the snow,” he said. “We can plow and 10 minutes later is looks like we didn’t touch it.”
Kovacs said 20 trucks were on the roads in Stark County during Thursday’s snow. With talk of another storm, Kovacs anticipates those 20 trucks will be working hard throughout the weekend.
Crews, he said, focus on the interstate routes first and then will move on to state and U.S. routes when time and the weather permits.
“We’ll put out all the trucks we have drivers for,” Kovacs said. “They will work 12 hour shifts and will be out there until the job is done. They are the unsung heroes of the winter season.”
Kovacs warns drivers to remain vigilant while sharing the roadway with plows, which now have green and white lights to alert drivers.
He reminds drivers to not crowd the plows and to be careful when passing plows.
“Use extreme caution,” he said. “Plows are going 35-40 mph on the highway. You can come up to one really quickly.”
The snow cloud that comes off the front of the plow can blind drivers, he said.
“The biggest thing is if you don’t have to be out on the roads, don’t be out on the road,” he advised.
He also recommends giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
Before hitting the road, Kovacs suggests visiting ODOT’s www.ohgo.com to see road conditions.
IN THE AIR
Kristie Van Auken, senior vice president at Akron-Canton Airport, said the airport wasn’t experiencing too many problems with the winter wallop on Thursday.
Some flights had been delayed because of weather issues at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and airports on the East Coast, she said. According to the airport’s website, a few flights were canceled.
“The really super busy airports tend to slow things down in the rest of system,” she said. “There have been some delays but those we have seen have been pretty modest. There has been really good movement this holiday season.”
Van Auken said the anticipated weather this weekend could continue to cause some flyers a headache but airport crews are working hard to get planes in the sky.
“In conditions like this, we go down to one runway,” she explained. “We focus all of our energy into one and make sure that it’s highly operational and very safe.”
Van Auken said the snow crews will remain at the airport as long as it takes to make sure that the airport and the runway is safe.
She recommends if you have travel plans this weekend to check the airport website, which can provide information about flights and parking lots, as well as contact the airline before heading to the airport.
With the frigid temperatures setting in, ice and freezing are a concern.
Kovacs said salt loses it effectiveness in colder temperatures and ODOT crews will begin to mix calcium chloride with the salt to boost its melting power.
He warns motorists to be aware of freezing water on the side of the road.
“You think it is wet but it could be black ice,” he said.
Ice is a difficult thing for crews at the Akron-Canton Airport to deal with, Van Auken said.
Snowy conditions are easier to deal with, she said.
“We can’t put salt on the runway, it is corrosive to airplanes,” she said. “So we have to use different materials like sand to create friction or potassium acetate.”
Kimberly Schwind, senior public relations manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club, recommends before hitting the road motorists be prepared for the cold and snowy weather by having the car battery checked by a professional, insuring tires have adequate tire pressure and tread depth and that all fluids — especially the windshield washer fluid — is filled.
Motorists should also have a emergency kit.
“At this time of year our calls skyrocket and people are going to be waiting for help,” Schwind said. “It is really important to be prepared if you are stranded.”
An emergency kit should include jumper cables, blankets and extra clothing, flashlight and extra batteries, an ice scrapper, safety flares and/or reflectors, sand or kitty litter, water and nonperishable foods and a cellphone and charger.
She also recommends keeping at least half a tank of gas in your car, which will prevent the fuel line from freezing, and if a motorist becomes stranded he or she can keep the car running for heat.
“If you do have to pull off the road try to pull all the way over to the side of the road, or better yet, if you can get off the road and into a parking lot,” Schwind said. “Make sure people can see you. Put on your safety flashers.”
She reminds motorists who become stranded to keep the tailpipe clear so that carbon monoxide does not fill the vehicle.
Schwind also suggests using a penetrating oil or lubricant like WD 40 in car locks to prevent them from freezing.
If locks freeze, she said, forgo hot water or blow dryers to remove the ice. Instead, she said, purchase a lock deicer.
Reach Amy at 330-775-1135
On Twitter: @aknappINDE