Arctic weather brings threat of snow, icy roads

Published 12:55 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Nope, this isn’t Minnesota, but it sure as heck feels like it.

Frigid temperatures have settled in around Butler County. Tuesday’s high was a predicted 37 degrees. Today it’s supposed to creep up, ever so slightly, to a high of 44. But the lows will hover around the teens in the sunless hours of the day and wind chill is going to push that number even lower. Thursday, locals could wake up to snow or, more likely, a mixture of rain and sleet that could make driving hazardous around the county.

“Here in the south we’re just not accustomed to driving in icy conditions, so everyone should be aware,” said county engineer Dennis McCall.

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The county remained under several weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service as of Wednesday morning, including a hard freeze and fire weather advisory. Hard freeze conditions exist when temperatures plummet below 26 degrees and remain that way for at least five hours. The fire weather, or “red flag” warning, means relatively low humidity and the dryness of the air is conducive for wild fires.

“There’s really no way to prepare for this,” said McCall. “The danger is with the bridges icing over…we’ll have crews on standby and ready to go salt areas if there’s a need. That’s basically all we can do.”

Conditions do exist to possibly cause major damage to Butler County’s rural roadways, said McCall. Because of the heavy rain in mid-December, McCall said he’s concerned moisture trapped beneath paved roads could cause the roads to crack and create potholes. Several roads were flooded that week in December and McCall said damages were an estimated $450,000.

However, Butler County was one of 12 counties eligible to receive disaster aid from FEMA because of the damage, said McCall, so the county should be reimbursed with federal dollars.