Storm may qualify for the ‘B word’
Herald Staff Writer
It’s not arbitrary. The U.S. National Weather Service has a fixed definition for “blizzard”: Heavy snowfall with sustained winds of 35 mph or more and visibility of 1/4 mile or less for at least three hours.
The pending storm may get there.
The Greater Akron area hasn’t seen a blizzard since March 1982. The last blizzard before that was January 1978. Statistically, we were kind of overdue.
Like that great 1978 disaster, this one is poised to be preceded by rain, followed by a flash freeze. No one anywhere is predicting a storm of that magnitude, but it is still going to be nasty. Wind gusts of up to 60 mph hint at sustained winds of 35 mph. That rain will become snow and an unfrozen Lake Erie will throw lake effect into the mix. This will kill visibility and the storm is expected to last about 24 hours, well over the three. Wind chills are anticipated at -25 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
We might be looking at our first blizzard in 40 years.
“We are as prepared as we can be for such a storm,” Barberton Mayor William Judge said ahead of the tempest. “The plows are on our trucks, they’re loaded with salt and I believe we have enough employees for coverage.”
“Plows are on and salt is ready and should we need them we’ll put them in motion,” Norton Mayor Mike Zita said.
Wind chills such as predicted with a homeless population hovering around a dozen or so is a lethal combination. Plus, the winds and ice anticipated threaten large-scale power outages. However, neither community has a warming center planned.
“In the past, we’ve opened up the Active Adult Center during business hours,” Judge said. “We don’t have the staff or training to do something overnight.”
Judge said the city has partners in Akron that will step in if needed.
“We don’t have (a warming center) set up as of yet,” Zita said. “I imagine we could put something in action pretty quickly.”