Winter Storm Harper is on its way to Northeast Ohio and will not miss Medina County, causing many to brace for whatever comes this way.
Whether it’s a significant winter event is still to be seen as weather forecasts aiming at predicting precipitation levels continue to fluctuate. On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a report predicting a range between 8 and 11 inches of snow may hit the area starting today and running through Monday.
The cities of Medina and Wadsworth, along with the Ohio Department of Transportation, are ready for whatever comes their way in the next 48 to 72 hours.
Brian Mitchell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said besides a “significant” amount of snow, there is another potential problem.
“There could be wind gusts of up to 35 mph,” he said. “It’s going to be really poor travel (conditions).”
Mitchell said there were so many variables with this snowstorm. He said that’s why his office uses ranges of snow.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning until 4 a.m. Monday, Mitchell said.
He said after Harper plows through, there is also a chance for additional lake effect snow.
Here is what you need to know to prepare for Winter Storm Harper.
ODOT ready for storm
Kaitlyn Thompson, ODOT spokeswoman, said ODOT will have as many as 22 snowplows on the roads in Medina County during the storm. She said ODOT will maintain 719 miles of interstates, U.S. routes and state routes in the county.
“Our drivers will work 12-hour shifts around the clock to make sure the roads are clear,” she said.
A shift of auxiliary drivers will also be available.
She said, according to data from 2018, drivers will get the primary routes — Interstates 71 and 76, state Route 18, U.S. Route 42 and others — back to normal speed within two hours of a storm passing. This holds true 97 percent of the time.
Thompson said the heaviest snowfall is expected during the late morning today and into tonight.
The plan in Medina
Medina Service Director Nino Piccoli said Friday the city is ready for the first major snow storm of the season.
“We’re in good shape,” he said. “We’re going to be ready. We’ve dealt with it before. We’ll do the best we can with the folks we have.”
Piccoli said one of his supervisors, Bill Davis, will wait to hear from the police department once the storm hits. He’ll monitor the city streets and strategically call in the city’s drivers to tackle snow-covered roads. Once on the clock, they will be on a 15-hour shift.
There is also a crew of relief drivers waiting to come aboard.
“Depending on the amount of snowfall, we will decide whether a third crew is necessary,” Piccoli said.
He said Medina has nine large plow trucks, eight of which have salting capabilities.
There are also some smaller trucks with plows, which will increase the fleet to 13 or 14 trucks.
“We have plenty of salt,” he said. “We have a little (less than) 800 tons.”
Wadsworth up for challenge
Robert Patrick, Wadsworth’s service director, said the city will have six trucks on the road at all times, starting at 6 a.m. today, until they have all the streets plowed.
“We are all set to go with enough crews and salt to fight this storm,” he said Friday.
Patrick said drivers will also be plowing and continuously salting the city’s parking lots and sidewalks downtown.
“We’ll be ready for whatever we end up getting,” he said. “We assume traffic will be light due to the media coverage and the word getting out. We’ll do our best to keep up with it, but if the snow drops at an inch per hour for consecutive hours, no amount of trucks can keep up.”
Big event canceled
Due to the impending winter storm and keeping everyone’s safety in mind, the Medina County commissioners have rescheduled tonight’s charity ball at Weymouth Country Club for Feb. 16.
The charity ball has taken place for 20 years as a fundraiser for local charities.
What to do in an outage
FirstEnergy said it is closely monitoring the developing weather conditions.
In the event of an outage due to severe weather, customers without power are to report the outage by calling (888) 544-4877, clicking the “Report Outage” link at www.firstenergycorp.com, or by texting OUT to 544487.
Customers should immediately report downed wires to (888) 544-4877 or call local police departments.
Ohio Edison said customers should remember to stay away from downed wires, even if they believe they are no longer carrying electricity. Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled with trees or other debris.
Motorists should treat intersections with inoperable traffic signals as four-way stops.
Ohio Edison customers can subscribe to email and text message alert notifications to receive weather updates and updates on scheduled or extended power outages at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect to enroll.
Storm preparation tips
FirstEnergy also offers these tips to help customers prepare for outages before they happen:
- Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy. Use care when burning candles; open flames are a dangerous fire hazard;
- Have extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. Do not use gas stoves, grills or other open-flame appliances as a heat source. They could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to build up in your home;
- If you have a water well and pump, keep an emergency supply of bottled water;
- If your home has an electric range, stock an emergency supply of convenience foods that do not require cooking;
- Keep a battery-powered radio with extra batteries on hand;
- While a cell phone will work as long as its battery is charged and the nearest cell tower has power or backup power, many cordless land-line telephones require a plug-in power source to operate, and may not work if a power outage occurs. Residents may want to keep a plain, hard-wired telephone handy to report power outages or to call for help in an emergency.