First forecasted winter storms prompt crews to be ready

Auglaize County and Wapakoneta city officials are ready for the possibility of adverse weather conditions beginning Thursday night and extending into Friday night as area residents head into the final weekend before Christmas.

The current weather forecast is calling for a winter weather mix of rain and snow coupled with high winds beginning Thursday evening  and extending into Friday morning.

Wapakoneta Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said all city equipment is ready to go. City administrators plan to treat all of the main roads with brine before any potential bad weather hits Thursday.

Plows have been installed on all of the city plowing equipment and salt spreaders are calibrated and ready to go.

“We will monitor the weather overnight and do anything that is necessary to keep the roads clear as possible,” Rains said.

He said any amount of precipitation is expected to be light and clear up quickly.

“The trucks will be mounted and ready by Thursday afternoon,” County Engineer Doug Reinhart said. “It looks like it will be minor, but we could see some major drifting in areas.”

Reinhart said if the crews are required, it will be their second stint out this winter. Snowplows were required to plow and salt snow-covered roadways during a freak snow outbreak on Oct. 30.

Reinhart said the only planned day off for county Engineering Office personnel is Christmas Day.

Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Anderson is tracking the system.

“Right now, I am seeing the system as it tracks across Iowa and as it comes closer, we should see rain and sleet,” Anderson said. “As far as the heavy winds, that may stay to the southern part of the state, south of I-70.”

However, a shift in the jet stream could bring high winds to the region before the system moves east. Anderson said any potential for high winds poses problems.

“It does cause a problem, especially with a cold front following,” Anderson said. “If we were to lose power, we could have issues making sure people have heat.”

Wet roads coupled with freezing temperatures also could pose risks to motorists by making roadways slick.

If high winds hit the region, Anderson said emergency personnel is ready to handle whatever scenario pops up.

“Working with the American Red Cross, we have a better, more enhanced plan in place,” Anderson said. “Each time we have had an event, we have learned and grown from it.”

Anderson said he plans to monitor the system as to moves into the region. The National Weather Service in Wilmington is calling for rain and snow showers starting on Thursday and moving out of the region by Friday. Total precipitation associated with the storm could reach an inch, with winds ranging between 20 mph to 30 mph, with gusts 50 mph into Thursday night.

The Evening Leader Managing Editor Mike Burkholder contributed to this story