Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Local road crews prepared for more snow, cold

by SAM KUSIC skusic@indianagazette.net on January 05, 2014 2:00 AM

If you thought it was cold early Friday morning, just wait. It gets worse.

The National Weather Service is predicating that the beginning of this week will bring bitter, biting cold, the kind of cold that sucks the juice out of car batteries, freezes water pipes and delays the start of school.

Although we’re experiencing something of a respite this weekend, the bottom is expected to fall out tonight when temperatures are to drop to 23 degrees. That mark becomes the temperature ceiling for Monday, which will feature a low of minus 11 degrees.

On Tuesday, expect a high of minus 2 and a low of minus 3. Wind chills will be much colder.

So, yep, it’s going to be cold. In fact, if the prediction comes to pass, it will be some of the coldest air to descend on the area in years. The last time the area saw temperatures that low was in January 1994.

On the 19th of that year, the high was 3 below zero. Two days later, the weather service recorded a low of minus 22.

Given this coming cold snap, and the storms we’ve had already, it’s fixing to be a long, drawn-out winter.

According to the weather service, the area already has seen 17.1 inches of snow this season. And that’s not including what came down Thursday and into Friday morning.

On average, 49.4 inches of snow falls on the area each season, which runs from October to April. So considering that most of the snow typically comes in January and beyond, the area is on track for a total above-average snowfall in 2013-14.

And for local municipalities, that means they are having to dig into their salt supplies. Not that it’s much of a problem, according to local officials.

For instance, Blairsville Borough manager Tim Evans said the borough already had adequate supplies on hand because of light usage over the past few seasons.

“We’re doing fine,” he said.

In Indiana Borough, crews have doubled the salt usage over the same time last year owing to all the small nuisance snows, according to Dave Fairman, Indiana Borough’s public works director.

In White Township, crews have been steadily using salt supplies, too. The township, in fact, has already met the minimum purchase required under its salt contract. In the past few seasons, it has struggled to meet the minimum, because it hasn’t needed it, said township manager Milt Lady.

If things continue as they have, he said, the township probably will be running up against the maximum amount allowed at the contract price, he said.

But that won’t be a worry for this week — the forecast isn’t calling for any significant snowfalls. Just cold.

With the temperatures predicted to be that low, the state Department of Health said hypothermia and frostbite are causes for concern. So, it says, take some common-sense measures to prevent them — dress warmly and be sure to cover your ears, head and mouth if you go outside.

Should the power go out for an extended period, don’t be stubborn. Go stay with someone who has heat or find a shelter.

And, the department says, never run a generator or use a camp stove indoors as they produce carbon monoxide.

If you need help with utility bills, the Indiana County Community Action Program and the state Department of Public Welfare have programs that can provide emergency assistance to those who qualify.

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