Falling snow and temperatures did not keep school doors closed Thursday for Worthington City Schools students. What about Friday?
That is a decision that likely will not be made until the very early hours of Friday morning, Jan. 3, long before alarm clocks awaken most children and parents.
Superintendent Thomas Tucker said when winter weather threatens, he hits the streets about 4:30 a.m.
He and George Sontag, director of transportation, and George Joseph, executive director of administrative services, meet at that hour and go in different directions to check streets, sidewalks and school entryways to make sure all is safe and accessible to students and staff.
“I am out there with them, making the decisions,” Tucker said. “I have a kindergartner in the district. I want to make sure my son and the 9,000 other students in the district are safe.”
Precipitation, in the form of snow or ice, is the top consideration. An inch or two of snow usually does not call for a snow day, Tucker said.
Ice, though, is the sometimes hidden culprit that keeps schools closed. And temperature does count, he said.
That is important this week, considering that temperatures are predicted to plunge to single digits Thursday night and remain cold throughout Friday.
“We don’t want students standing at bus stops, freezing in below-zero weather,” he said.
Worthington snow crews reported at 5 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, and will continue until at least 8 p.m. to keep up with falling snow and falling temperatures.
WBNS-10TV meteorologist Chris Bradley is calling for 3-6 inches of snow today and temperatures falling to zero tonight.
As of noon Thursday, High Street and other main routes in Worthington, as well as some major streets in residential areas, were clear, said Bill Watterson, the city’s director of service and engineering.
“We were expecting it,” he said. “We have all of the trucks out now.”
Crews begin plowing residential streets only when the main streets are done.
The goal is to scrape all streets by the end of the day because of the rapidly falling temperatures tonight.
When the temperature dips that low, ice ridges form on the snow, making it difficult to plow, Watterson said.
That is when the city’s supply of salt comes into play.
The special mixture of beet juice and calcium lowers the melting point to below zero, Watterson said.
Supplies are plentiful, he said. The city received a shipment recently and could reorder as soon as storage space allows.
Thus far this season, the city has used 800 tons of road salt, which is above average. In most years, 1,200 to 1,800 tons are used for the entire season.