PARKERSBURG - The Mid-Ohio Valley can expect Old Man Winter's snowy return this season.
The weather in the Mid-West and East Coast will be snowier and cooler than normal, according to the Farmers Almanac.
The almanac said residents in the Atlantic seaboard should be especially cautious between Feb.12-15 and March 20-23, when officials are expecting major coastal storms. These storms could bring strong winds and heavy precipitation to the East Coast.
Parkersburg Public Works Director Jerry Edman, left, and Romel “Boo” Henderson, supervisor of street cleaning and sign shop, stand in front of the salt dune located off Camden Avenue in south Parkersburg. (Photo by Mandi Cardosi)
Local residents are encouraged by Parkersburg Fire Department's chief inspector Tim Flinn to check chimneys and furnaces before winter roars into the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"Make sure your chimneys are cleaned, checked for cracks and everything is venting properly," he said.
Flinn said it is important to keep flammable objects a safe three feet away from any heating appliances. Officials encourage residents not to leave space heaters unattended, because they can become hazardous.
Calls relating to the dangerous gas carbon monoxide are often responded to the fire department more in winter months. Residents are encouraged to check carbon monoxide and fire detectors.
Flinn said appliances such as stoves shouldn't be used for heat or light sources, because of the dangers of gases and fire hazards. He also advised residents to be careful of trees weakened from the June 29 storm.
"We expect some of those weak trees to fall," he said, adding residents should be prepared for power outrages if the frail trees fall this winter.
Flinn said the issue firefighters face in winter months is decreased maneuverability, as trucks aren't able to move as quickly to emergencies like fires and traffic accidents.
"Usually people drive more cautiously in the winter," he said, adding that is especially important because the roads can become unsafe for emergency vehicles.
Highway crews are preparing for the upcoming winter season by going on practice runs of their routes and familiarizing themselves with possible obstructions such as mailboxes, said Brent Walker, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Transportation in Charleston.
"We are getting ready to prepare for our SRIC (snow removal and ice control) season," he said. "What we'll be doing shortly is having our county maintenance division going through dry runs and making sure equipment is collaborating and in good working order."
Walker said the DOT has excess salt due to the mild season last winter. However, under its contract the DOT must purchase a certain amount each year. It is the hope of the department to utilize the salt it has collected.
"It's what we do in (the) preseason as a way to get ready for (winter)," he said. "We will certainly be prepared."
Romel "Boo" Henderson, street cleaning supervisor with Parkersburg Public Works, said the department constantly has 10 big salt trucks with blades on hand. The trucks hold 2.5-3 tons of salt and the department also has four smaller trucks which can hold up to 1.5 tons of salt.
Parkersburg Public Works Director Jerry Edman said the salt used by the city is environmentally friendly.
"There's no residue left behind," he said.
Edman said the job of a public works employee is not complete when the snow is gone.
"It's a continuous process," he said. "We do maintenance on the central shops and hydraulic trucks; make sure everything is working."
Henderson said the city is well covered when it comes to the removal of snow, with preparations done on each side of the city. However, there are some roadways with a higher priority when the snowfall arrives.
Edman and Henderson said hills and main thoroughfares are the highest priority for snow removal and salting the roads. The "first blitz area" involves high traffic flow areas such as the Memorial Bridge, 19th Avenue and the Lakeview Avenue hill.
Henderson said once the salt is laid on the ground it can withstand temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees below zero.
"It's the most efficient salt we've had," he said.
Edman said when the department sees a storm coming, the roadways traveled most are cleared and treated immediately.
Henderson said it takes about eight hours for the employees to clear and treat all city roadways.
According to the National Weather Service in Charleston, Hurricane Sandy is expected to move into the area over the next week. Officials with the West Virginia Division of Highways said they will be prepared for the severe weather threat.