Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 --- 11:00 a.m.
Press Release from the Dane Co. Executive's Office:
County Upgrades Snow Removal Equipment, Details Coordinated Response Plan to Most Dangerous Winter Storm Since Groundhog’s Day Blizzard
Dane County Emergency Operations Center to Activate at 6:00 pm Wednesday; County Debuts New Plows with "Double Wings" for Big Storm
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today that the county stands prepared in anticipation of the first major winter storm to affect the area since the Groundhog’s Day Blizzard of 2011. Parisi and county leaders today showcased continued upgrades they are making to improve snow removal efficiency and offered safety tips to consider ahead of the storm.
“With weather forecasts pointing to the most dangerous winter storm seen since the historic Groundhog’s Day Blizzard nearly two years ago, our Highway Department, Emergency Management, 911 center, and sheriff’s department are ready with a coordinated response,” said Parisi. “Through innovation and the best trained team of workers, our highway department takes great pride in protecting the public and keep our roads safe during even the worst weather conditions.”
The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warning for Dane County on Wednesday, and a Blizzard Warning for Thursday. The storm is predicted to generate significant snowfall – 12 to 17 inches beginning Wednesday – with the heaviest snow to fall Thursday. The storm also carries a potential for high winds causing whiteouts and blizzard conditions.
The Dane County Highway Department is fully staffed with 57 snow plows prepared to clear over 2,500 miles of state and county highways across the county. This year, the department is putting more trucks with “double-wing” plow blades on the road. These trucks clear busier thoroughfares like the Interstate and Beltline quicker and plow highway on and off ramps in just one pass. The county will use 17 of these "double wing" trucks in the response to this storm and has a total of 8 brand new heavy duty plow trucks hitting the roads for this upcoming storm.
The county’s highway department has a history of maximizing innovation and technology to keep roads clear. The county is in its fourth year of utilizing Global Information Systems (GIS) technology on every plow, allowing the department to better respond to emergent snow clearing requests and continuously monitor plowing and salting efforts across the county.
Later this year, the department will unveil a pilot fleet of four new snowplows that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) generated from decomposing trash from the county’s Rodefeld Landfill.
Dane County Public Works, Highways, and Transportation Director Jerry Mandli urged drivers to use caution when sharing the road with plows. “A snow plow has a number of blind spots, just like the vehicle that you or I drive. Depending on weather conditions and where your car is located, you may see a plow, but a plow driver may not see you. Drivers are urged to use their headlights, slow down around plows, and give a plow driver plenty of space to clear the road.”
County government’s preparation for the storm includes a coordinated response across multiple departments and public safety agencies to help keep the public prepared, informed, and safe.
“During a significant weather event like the one that is being predicted, conditions can deteriorate quickly and without warning, hampering snow clearing and rescue efforts,” said Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs. “Citizens must exercise caution and are encouraged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.”
During portions of the storm, county residents with compatible cell phones may receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), text alert warnings from the federal government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that deliver timely advice and instructions in the event of severe weather or other emergencies.
Cell phone users are not charged for these alerts, and are automatically enrolled in the program. To find out if a cell phone will receive WEAs, users are encouraged to contact their wireless provider.