Late last week, the Wright County Highway Department was combatting high humidity and temperatures hovering around freezing – treating roads for frost buildup. Starting Thursday morning, they’re going to be battling the more standard winter weather – a sustained snow storm that is currently projected to drop six or more inches of snow in Wright County.
Wright County Maintenance Supervisor Steve Meyer said motorists returning from work this afternoon should be on the lookout for pre-treatment trucks that are already treated county roads and highways in anticipation of this storm.
“We starting sending our trucks out to pre-treat roads this morning and we will continue to treat roads until about 9 o’clock tonight,” Meyer said. “People have a good chance of seeing our trucks out on the roads. They move slowly when they’re applying the brine liquid, so we ask that drivers be patient and use caution.”
The biggest issue with this storm is how it will start early Thursday morning. Some forecast models have Wright County in the path of freezing rain in the beginning turning over to all snow by 10 a.m. Thursday. Other models have the event being all snow, which could last up to 36 hours into Friday night.
“It may be a little bit of rain and snow mix to start at about 6 to 7 a.m. Thursday,” Meyer said. “This is being projected to be a long event that will last all day Thursday and Friday, so there is the potential for quite a bit of accumulation even though it won’t be coming down heavy for much of that time. Right now, we’re hearing that we’re in an area that could get between five and nine inches of snow and, when we get on the back side of the storm early Friday, we could see winds up to 45 miles an hour.”
If there is any good news, it’s that the temperatures are supposed to stay relatively moderate – in the mid- to upper 20s – which is critical for road salt to be effective in melting compacted snow on county roads and highways.
The morning and evening commute both Thursday and Friday will likely be impacted by this storm, which has conflicting tracks depending on which model you look at. Some have Wright County seeing all snow, while others forecast a wintry mix Thursday morning. Currently the heaviest bands are expected to hit east of Wright County, but it right on the fringe of many of the forecast models.
Meyer cautioned that Friday may be worse than Thursday because there already will have been about 12 hours of intermittent snow when the winds pick up – sustained winds of more than 30 miles per hour and gusts expected to reach 45 mph – reducing visibility greatly at times with the potential for drifting snow in open areas.
“We ask residents to keep an eye on the travel advisories because conditions could change quickly with this storm,” Meyer said. “We hope people will plan accordingly – run your errands ahead of time. It would be nice if there aren’t as many vehicles moving around than we normally see because this storm looks like it will be significant and Friday looks to be a bad day to be out on the roads.”