Southern Illinois prepared for first snow of new year - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Southern Illinois prepared for first snow of new year

(Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

The new year is bringing in some winter weather to southern Illinois. 

As we wait for the first snowfall of 2017, public works departments have already started the process of pre-treating the roadways. 

Robert Hardin, the Maintenance & Environmental Service Manager of Public Works Carbondale, explained what kind of work goes into preparing for winter weather to strike.

"If we know 100 percent there will be two inches of snow, then we would pre-wet all of our routes but this snow is 50 percent chance, so today we are pre-wetting our troubled spots for the spots that will freeze first," Hardin said.

Pre-wetting is using a mixture of water and brine (a solution of salt and water) and applying it directly to the pavement. It bonds to the pavement. 

Snow will activate the brine, causing the snow to melt. Hardin said he will be monitoring the routes all night. He mentioned the worst case scenario is there being a few slick spots, but he does expect it.

In the case that it does snow and the roads do get slick, they then will be out applying salt, he says.

When the roads are unsafe, the next precaution taken comes in the form of school closures. And with the talk of crews treating the roads, many children may already be getting their hopes up for another day off school.

School closures can be fun for kids, but plenty of adult decisions have to be made before classes can be canceled. 

There are about 1,800 students K-12 and 150 staff members that will await the decision Thursday morning in West Frankfort, Illinois. 

Dr. Greg Goins, West Frankfort School District Superintendent, said superintendents and a "weather committee" share their thoughts and concerns and come to the conclusion about canceling school.

"It's a catch 22 - we all want kids to be at school, they need to be at school in a warm environment and have an opportunity to eat two meals, but there's also a safety concern." 

The decision makers start the process as early at 5 a.m. Doctor Goins said they consider student safety and whether or not the busses can run. He said it's a delicate balance between the burdens of emergency child care on working parents and the potential dangers of slick travel. 

The decision is not made by the district until the weather event happens. So according to Dr. Goins, officials will have a concrete answer by 6 a.m.. 

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