Public works departments gearing up for the biggest snow event of the season to date
Ice, high winds, and more than a foot of snow accumulation are possible Tuesday night through Thursday morning as a major winter storm moves through the region.
Peoria County Highway Department Engineer Amy McLaren said because the snow is expected to hit over multiple waves, her crews and trucks will focus on clearing out snow paths first, then salt the pavement.
"Our first effort is to open up the roads," McLaren said. "When we get to where we will see the pavement, then we will put down the salt. So at first, you might not see us putting down the salt, because it's just going to get covered up with the snow. "
Peoria Public Works Deputy Director Sie Maroon said his department is preparing more for this storm than they usually do for a snowfall.
"We are in the process of hiring some subcontractors to come in with the heavy equipment and some trucks and plows, so we can not only be on the primary arterial routes while we're working the storm, but we're also working the residential areas," Maroon said. "Just keeping those clear and open to some degree, for emergency vehicles or for anybody that really needs to travel.”
Maroon also said people should wait until the storm is over before attempting to clear their driveways and sidewalks.
“We would encourage people to wait till the snow is over with if they can help it – and I realize that some people can't – to shovel, because if we haven't gotten there first and you’ve shoveled your drive and sidewalk, we're going to put snow right back on it,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it's got to go somewhere. So it goes to the curb, and that creates a double whammy for people who have already done it once and now they’ve got to go back and shovel again.”
McLaren said motorists should also watch out for the wind gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour possible Wednesday night into Thursday.
"We are anticipating a lot of blowing and drifting snow, especially in the rural areas, which can be pretty dangerous and take over your car or truck pretty quickly with the drift and getting stuck out there," McLaren said. "So we would encourage you to be pretty cautious out there."
Maroon said with the storm expected to come through the area in multiple waves, it will test the endurance of both the plow drivers and the equipment.
McLaren and Maroon encourage people to stay home and avoid hitting the roadways during the storm unless absolutely necessary.
Gov. JB Pritzker issued a disaster declaration ahead of the storms, and activated the Illinois National Guard to assist with needs. Ameren Illinois has activated its emergency operations center to quickly respond to power outages throughout the storm.
Winter road conditions for major highways are posted to the Illinois Department of Transportation's website.