DeKALB – DeKalb County Highway Department road crews were loading up their trucks Friday in anticipation of up to 8 inches of snowfall in the area this weekend.
The National Weather Service on Friday issued a winter storm warning for northeastern Illinois. The warning will be in effect through Saturday morning.
Amy Seeley, meteorologist for National Weather Service in Chicago, said that in DeKalb County, total snow accumulation is expected to be between 5 and 8 inches. Visibility likely will be at its worst from midnight until 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We have winds gusting as high as
35 mph,” Seeley said.
Seeley said road conditions and moderately wet snow are expected to affect travel.
Nathan Schwartz, engineer for the DeKalb County Highway Department, said every snowstorm is different and so is the county’s treatment of its roads, but he estimated that the county spends about $500,000 on salt each year, not including the cost of the vehicles and labor. Of the $5,000 the average county resident pays in property taxes, about $85 goes to the highway department, he said.
Schwartz said plow and salt trucks are expected to start making their rounds on county roads – including Peace, Glidden, Five Points, Kirkland, Malta and Somonauk roads – starting at 3 a.m. Saturday, but they might be out before then if more than a few inches of snow has accumulated hours before.
Similar to its Ogle County counterparts, Schwartz said the county has a crew of 12 snow plow drivers to cover a dozen routes, as opposed to more-urbanized neighboring counties such as Kane County that might have multiple crews to plow more continuously throughout a storm.
“We are not able to have plows out there 24/7,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said it takes about three hours for a truck driver to complete one route, which may include parts of different county roads, and those drivers need to take breaks to sleep.
“And all of that costs money, and we just don’t have the financial resources to be able to expand our snow plow services,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said he anticipates trucks continuing to make their rounds after the storm until 9 p.m. Sunday and even during the holiday Monday, if necessary.
Schwartz said it doesn’t help that the county is primarily rural, which can make for some nasty road conditions with high winds and heavy snow. This storm will be no exception even after the snowfall ends, he said.
“With wind gusts being over 30 mph, sustained winds over 20 mph, there’s going to be significant drifting,” Schwartz said.
Seeley said cold weather will follow the snowfall, and the temperature Saturday and Sunday nights is expected to be in the single digits.
“On both nights, wind chills could be as low as 10 below zero,” Seeley said.
Seeley said she suggests residents limit skin exposure during the cold temperatures at the end of the weekend. National Weather Service officials also said to not forget about furry friends and to make sure there’s a warm, dry shelter for pets so their paws aren’t at risk for freezing.