Winter storm gonna be ‘ugly’

Daniel Chumley, left, and Doug Meyung mount a snow plow on a City of Covington Public Works truck. The two are mechanics in the Fleet Division.

Rain, bitter cold to complicate road crews’ response

COVINGTON, Ky. – It’s going to be “ugly.”

As crews from Covington’s Public Works Department prepare for the coming winter storm, its leaders say drivers should stay off the roads as much as possible because the nature of this storm – rain turning to ice and snow as temperatures plummet sharply – will make the response difficult.

“We’re going to have two problems,” Public Works Director Chris Warneford said. “One, because of the rain, we can’t pretreat the roads. That’s going to set us back when the rain starts turning to ice and then snow, meaning we won’t be able to move from the main thoroughfares to the side streets as quickly as we normally can. And two, once temperatures fall into the teens and then single digits, the effectiveness of road salt will diminish. At some point, it simply won’t melt what we want it to melt.”

The bottom line: It’s going to be harder for Covington’s Snow and Ice Team to live up to its sterling reputation during this, the third storm of the winter.

Public Works installed plows on its trucks on Tuesday as crew leaders continue to watch the forecasts and plan their response.

The forecasts call for rain to start turning to ice about 6 a.m. Thursday morning and – as temperatures continue to fall – into snow a short time later. Accumulation estimates vary widely, with current ones settling in the 5- to 7-inch range. Temperatures are expected to hit single digits, with a low of 3 on Saturday.

But as forecasts are wont to do, that will likely change, Warneford said.

As of the publication of this release, Covington plans to press into service its entire Snow and Ice Team, two teams of 15-16 drivers, at 6 a.m. Thursday. Eight hours later, one of those teams will stay on for another eight hours while the other goes home to rest and prepare to come back later that night.

“It’s going to be ugly,” Warneford said, “and it’s not going to be over quickly. This is going to be a long event.”

Meanwhile, the Department added 200 tons of road salt to its salt dome on Monday and expected another 200-ton shipment at any moment.

Whether it’s enough, of course, remains to be seen.

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