An arctic blast that sent temperatures plummeting to well below zero in Reynoldsburg prompted school officials to extend winter break by at least two more days this week.
Because of dangerous wind chill levels and icy streets, schools were closed Monday, Jan. 6, and Tuesday, Jan. 7.
City officials said a snowy December and the deep freeze early this week sent Street Department personnel out in salt trucks at 2 a.m. Monday.
"The rain that had fallen previously in the evening was freezing on the road and we also had some snowfall overnight," city Service Director Nathan Burd said. "Because of the overnight work, most main and secondary roads were in pretty good shape for the morning commute."
Winter weather this year has been worse than last year, though.
"It has been a brutal winter so far," Burd said. "In December of 2012, we used 588 tons of salt. In December of 2013, we used 1,145 tons of salt."
Burd said the city can store about 3,000 tons of salt in its barns.
On Monday, he said only 600 tons of salt are left for future snow removal.
"We have placed an order for additional salt and we will have what we need for the rest of the winter," he said. "Our most recent salt contract allows us to buy at $48.72 per ton and that is substantially less than previous years.
"So we are in the process of replenishing our supply and we will keep working hard to make the roads as safe as possible through this very difficult winter," Burd said.
Information on the Street Department page of the city website, at ci.reynoldsburg.oh.us, says there are 112 miles of streets in Reynoldsburg.
When snow accumulation reaches four inches or more, the city salts and plows all streets. If there is less than four inches of snow, the city salts only main and secondary streets, including steep-grade areas and dangerous curves.
Safety tips listed on the page ask residents to "never attempt to pass a plow truck on the right side," since plows put snow to the passenger side of the truck. People are instructed to stay back at least 200 feet from trucks that are plowing or spreading salt.
Staying directly behind a plow truck could also be dangerous, according to the information, because of blind spots in the truck mirrors; the trucks frequently have to back up and the drivers may not be able to see vehicles behind them.
Truro Township Administrator Jason Nicodemus said the township buys salt from the city of Reynoldsburg and has one salt truck that is used to clear 25 streets in Truro Township and the village of Brice.
"We have been staying on top of snow removal on the streets as best we can, but our truck has been out almost continuously," he said.
He said street-clearing priorities start with the streets in front of the Truro Township fire stations.
"We always salt the approaches to the fire stations first, then do the major intersections," he said. "From the intersections, we go through the streets and apply salt as needed."
Nicodemus said residents need to remember on snowy days to park their vehicles in their driveways instead of on the streets.
"Also, we ask residents to be cautious as they approach a plow truck coming to an intersection," he said. "They are bigger machinery than a car and are also difficult to stop on ice and snow."