As a winter storm approaches, the Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is urging residents to be prepared ahead of the weather event.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the county will be under a winter storm watch from 5 p.m. today to 7 a.m. Friday. As of press time, the NWS is forecasting rain, snow and sleet tonight with 1-2 inches of snow and sleet accumulation expected. Ice accumulation of up to a tenth of an inch is also expected. On Thursday, the forecast calls for snow with a chance of sleet. Total snow accumulations during the winter storm watch are expected to total between 3 and 6 inches.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) reported Tuesday it anticipates the freezing rain to be the biggest threat since it cannot be pretreated, like ice, because the rain washes away the treatment, making the roads dangerous.
“During winter storms, ODOT strives to keep roads passable to help ensure that emergency services and essential workers can safely reach their destinations,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “But even with our crews out in full force, roads will likely be snow and ice-covered, and it will take much longer to travel. Once the storm moves out, our crews will be able to make progress toward getting traffic moving at regular speed.”
ODOT said in a release Tuesday that its goal is to have “the average traffic speed on primary routes back to within 10 mph of the posted speed limit within 2 hours and secondary routes within 4 hours of the end of a storm.”
Delaware County EMA Deputy Director Sandy Mackey said Tuesday the agency is taking several measures ahead of the storm, including pushing out forecast and preparedness information to the public and partner organizations, closely coordinating with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, for the latest forecasts and expected weather-related impacts, and “engaging with partner agencies and organizations, including the American Red Cross, to plan for shelters and/or warming centers (should they be needed).”
Mackey outlined several preparedness steps residents can take ahead of the storm:
• Charge flashlights and cell phones before the storm hits in case of power outages.
• Ensure ample batteries are on hand.
• Use electric flashlights and lanterns over candles. If you must use candles or other flame-based light sources, make sure they are in a safe location, away from combustibles, children and pets.
• If you are using alternate sources for heat/electricity, make sure to do so safely and keep them away from combustibles, while following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
• Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
• Use generators in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
• Remain aware of changing weather conditions.
• Bring pets inside if possible and make sure livestock have a warm shelter (away from the elements) and fresh water.
“As a general preparedness rule, have no less than 72 hours worth of food, water, and life-sustaining medication on hand to meet the needs of your family,” Mackey said. “If you lose power, contact your power provider. If you have an emergency, dial 9-1-1.”
EMA Director Sean Miller added, “We urge families and individuals to be proactive in their approach to preparedness and consider what their needs might be before any potential disaster, such as a large-scale snow or ice storm. Additionally, we are stronger together. Please check on your neighbors, especially those with functional or access needs, if you can safely do so during or following impactful winter weather.”
Mackey said more information can be found on the agency’s Facebook page and on Twitter @delcoema. To sign up for alerts, visit emergencycomms.co.delaware.oh.us/delco-alerts/.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.