With the first significant snowfall moving into the area, ODOT, First Energy, cities, and counties in the area all are preparing.
The Ohio Department of Transportation will begin 12-hour shifts at midnight with its crews in Cuyahoga, Lake & Geauga Counties as a result of forecasted lake effect snow. ODOT will be staffed as follows through the duration of this first winter blast:
Cuyahoga County - 20 snowplow operators currently prepping ice and snow equipment and treating road tonight as needed. After midnight, a crew of 50 snowplows will be on the roads throughout the day.
Lake County - 6 snowplow operators currently prepping ice and snow equipment and treating road tonight as needed. After midnight, a crew of 14 snowplows will be on the roads throughout the day.
Geauga County - 10 snowplow operators currently prepping ice and snow equipment and treating road tonight as needed. After midnight, a crew of 14 snowplows will be on the roads throughout the day.
First Energy is also preparing for the possible impact of high winds and snow that have been predicted to hit parts of its utilities' service territory beginning tonight and continuing through Saturday.
While all areas of its six-state service territory could see some impact, current forecasts predict that the most severe weather will occur in the Toledo Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI), and Ohio Edison areas in Ohio and in the higher elevations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
As a result of the weather forecasts, which include the possibility of sustained winds in excess of 50 mph, FirstEnergy utilities have implemented the company's storm preparation process, including notifying employees to be on standby, contacting contractor crews for possible deployment, assessing the need for staging sites, and addressing employee schedule coordination.
As part of this process, FirstEnergy crews and support personnel will remain in their respective service areas until the full impact of the potential weather event is known.
The City of Cleveland has its snow removal fleet ready and waiting. There will be 116 drivers on-duty over three shifts during the snow event. Servicing of residential streets will begin once the snow subsides and the main streets are sufficiently cleared.
The Division of Streets has over 22,000 tons of salt on-hand and 53 trucks ready to cover 54 routes around the city.
In the event of a heavy snow fall, the Division of Streets will utilize the City's GIS based city-wide priority routing in order to help ensure efficiency. Drivers will follow the district level routing system that has been enhanced by the City's GIS based system for normal snow falls.
As always, the goal is to have all streets serviced within 24 to 36 hours from when snow stops falling, depending on the actual amount of snow fall. Work will be ongoing until main thoroughfares are clear and residential streets are serviced.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald encourages all County residents to stay informed and be. prepared. Ensuring your vehicles an fueled up, your emergency supply kits are stocked, loose debris in yards are picked up and pets and other animals are brought in from the cold will go a long way.
The Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management is currently monitoring the pending severe weather. As the storm progresses, we will continue to keep our municipal leaders informed and provide assistance as needed.
ODOT says, Drivers can stay safe - whether it's the first storm or last - by following these tips:
See and be Seen: Remove any snow on your vehicle's windows, lights, brake lights and signals.
Turn on your Lights: If you need to turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights. It's the law.
Don't Crowd the Plow: Look for the green-colored strobe lights on the snowplow trucks and give them plenty of room to work.