Area prepares for predicted snow stormAll the signs point to a big storm tonight and tomorrow, and everyone is gearing up for it one way or another.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
All the signs point to a big storm tonight and tomorrow, and everyone is gearing up for it one way or another.
At noon today, the Lake Superior School District wasn't planning to close school early, but tomorrow might be a different story, according to Mary Guzzo, administrative assistant in the district office.
She said that if the decision to close isn't made tonight, superintendent Phil Minkkinen will be up by 4 a.m. tomorrow to contact weather spotters so that bus drivers can be notified by 5:15 a.m., which is when the first driver leaves on a route.
KDAL AM radio will be notified of closings, but parents will also be called.
"We're part of the Instant Alert, a Honeywell program," Guzzo said. "It automatically makes calls to all phone numbers in our program, including parents and staff."
Tom Gelineau, head of the street department in Two Harbors, said all snow removal equipment has been checked, cleaned, fixed if necessary, and the plows mounted.
"All the guys will have to do is hit the door opener," Gelineau said.
They'll be called in if Gelineau sees it's necessary to keep emergency routes open, which are the first to be plowed, along with the ambulance garage and the fire hall. Gelineau said he might even do some pre-sanding today if it starts to rain.
"That will keep ice from forming and make plowing much more efficient," he said.
Neil Udenberg, Lake County highway foreman for the Two Harbors area, said his crew was handling business as usual earlier today, but when the snow began falling after noon, he pulled the trucks back in, filled the sanders, attached the plows, and "everything is parked and ready."
Because the crew is small and the storm is starting later in the day, Udenberg said he expected to send them home at 3 so they can come back out tonight if the snow begins to accumulate.
"Usually, we run until dark and we can't see, but if the snow is coming heavy, we'll have to start opening roads tonight," he said. "We won't stay out real late because we have to be back out in the morning if the snowfall continues through the night (as predicted)."
He said if conditions are bad enough, even the mechanics can drive vehicles, and everyone is ready to "run ahead" of emergency vehicles if need be.
The highway department policy is to keep the blacktop roads open first, and to make enough passes on the gravel roads as the snow deepens, to keep them open for emergency vehicles.
Meanwhile, there's no doubt that residents have been anticipating some snowed-in time. According to Shannon Haveri at the Two Harbors Public Library, Monday was crowded with people stocking up on books and tapes, and admitting the were doing it so they'd be ready to ride out the storm.
"One lady said she came here, and was heading to the store afterwards," Haveri said. "She said, 'You have to have eggs.'"
She wasn't the only one, according to Dan Heikkinen, manager at Super One. He said the past few days have seen more than normal numbers of shoppers stocking up on staples like milk, bread and eggs, as well as snack foods. Tuesday and today Heikkinen brought in an extra cashier to handle the extra volume.
"If they close school, there will be even more people in here," he said.
The storm is expected to bring up to 14 inches of snow along the shore, with high winds and temperatures that don't leave zero very far behind.