MENTOR, Ohio — As parts of Northeast Ohio prepare for a snowy mix, the snowplows are locked, loaded and ready to go.
Just outside the walls of the garages where Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) snowplows park, elements are brewing that will bring them to life.
WKYC Chief Meteorologist Betsy Kling and the weather team have been warning Northeast Ohioans of the conditions ahead.
“The front here is the plow. The bottom metal piece is the blade,” said Matthew Schweikert, Director of Public Works for the City of Mentor, as he explained the mechanics of snowplows. “It's attached to the front and then back there is all that salt.
20 snowplows were loaded with salt Thursday and will hit the road when duty calls- about 15 of them will head out ahead of the weather.
“From the time it starts snowing to the time we have trucks on the road can be no more than 30 to 60 minutes,” Schweikert said,
Tackling the roads outside of Mentor's 500 lane mile coverage in the snowbelt is ODOT.
“There is going to be 68 trucks out in district 12, which includes Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties,” Brent Kovacs with ODOT said.
Since Northeast Ohio has experienced a mild winter thus far, there are no challenges with salt supply, Schweikert and Kovacs said.
“Our salt supply is still very good, and we got plenty for the rest of winter,” Kovacs said.
Ahead of the winter season, ODOT alerted the public of a shortage of snowplow drivers.
Today, ODOT says seasonal hires have filled positions almost back to a full roster.
“We’re only a handful short of where we would normally be," Kovacs says now.
Schweikert said there is no shortage of drivers in Mentor.
“We haven't been hit too hard by COVID,” Schweikert said.
A lesson for all drivers, experienced or new to the snow: drive safe, drive slow, and don't forget to let the plows lead the way.
“When you're near one of our trucks, give them plenty of distance,” Schweikert said “Slow down. Give yourself some extra time."
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