April 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
35°F

Crews battle icy roadways Monday

A Medina city snowplow driver works to keep neighborhood streets clear. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Many roadways in Medina County will remain icy until at least Wednesday, despite crews working overtime through the night.

“We’re using rock salt and liquid calcium chloride that helps activate the salt in colder temperatures,” said Nino Piccoli, Medina service director. “But it doesn’t completely get rid of the ice. We caution drivers to proceed with caution.

“We have some snow-covered roads and icy spots.”

A sign at Medina and Foote roads shows the temperature at 1 degree above zero about noon Monday in Medina Township. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported temperatures had slipped below zero at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, with a wind chill of 27 below. At temperatures that cold, frostbite can set in after only 10 minutes of exposure.

After plunging as low as minus 18 Monday night, today’s high is expected to barely break the zero mark.

Piccoli said Medina has eight larger trucks out on the roads salting to combat the ice. He said employees from other departments, including the sanitation and water who have CDL licenses, are usually willing to work overtime to help provide relief to the street employees.

“We try to work the drivers 12 hours, but not more than 15,” he said. “They only work 15 if they’re not tired and they can be safe.”

Piccoli said the city likely will have crews out spreading salt during the overnight hours to prevent roadways from icing over as temperatures drop to zero degrees and below.

“We’ve been fortunate we haven’t had a winter this cold for a while,” he said.

In Brunswick, where a parking ban is in place, a crew of seven was working to keep streets salted on Monday.

Service Director Pat McNamara said the crew relieved an overnight crew of three, who focused mainly on Center and Pearl roads and the city’s secondary streets.

“You’ll notice on the main roads that the salt is semi-working, but it’s not working at all on the back streets,” he said. The salt works best when there is traffic to help activate it, and McNamara said he hopes to keep main roadways clear and encourages residents to drive carefully through their neighborhoods.

He said the city has put up snow fencing along major roadways to help combat blowing snow icing over the roadways.

“We identified areas in the past that are bad, and the fencing is already up,” he said.

Both he and Piccoli urged motorists to be patient and courteous of plows.

“It’s really difficult when people pull out in front of a plow and then start skidding and our guys have to stop fast,” Piccoli said. “Just try to stay out of their way and let them do their job.”

With temperatures expected to remain at or below zero through today, utility companies also are urging customers to use their heat in moderation to avoid power outages.

Both Dominion East and Lorain Medina Rural Electric Cooperative have encouraged residents to use only minimal services to avoid outages.

Scott Miller, vice president and general manager for Dominion East Ohio asked customers to reduce their thermostat setting or turn down their hot water heaters if possible to avoid outages.

“During this extreme cold weather, Dominion East Ohio asks all customers to voluntarily turn down their thermostats and to lower the setting on their water heaters if they can do so safely, and for businesses to reduce the use of natural gas for manufacturing or processing, if practicable,” he said. “These conservation efforts through this Wednesday will help keep natural gas supplies flowing to all Dominion customers.”

In Brunswick today, there will be no trash picked up by Republic Waste because of the cold temperatures. Pick-ups are expected to resume Wednesday and they will be one day behind for the remainder of the week.

In Medina and Wadsworth, trash collection is not expected to be delayed.

Brunswick canceled its Monday evening classes at the recreation center, but kept the center open for residents who found themselves without heat. The center will be open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. today for anyone needing a warm place to stay and a hot cup of coffee.

Beth Kilchenman, director of the Medina County chapter of the American Red Cross, said the agency hadn’t received any requests for shelter on Monday afternoon, but said they had action plans in place to offer a warm shelter in the event of a power outage.

“We started planning for this weather episode on Friday,” she said. “I know in the Cleveland area they have set up some warming shelters, but we haven’t had to do that at this time.”

At Medina Hospital, there were no reported frostbite cases on Monday afternoon; however, staff said they’ve had a number of elderly patients with pneumonia and flu-like symptoms over the last few days.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.