River Forest public works department keeps eye on forecast
The snow may have been a burden to grown-ups, but it was a blessing many of their children, including these kids who went sledding at Keystone Park in River Forest on Tuesday. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 6, 2013 2:11AM
With last week’s snow still fresh in their minds -- and frozen on the ground -- public officials in River Forest and Oak Park braced for a new rounds of storms this week.
But with warmer temperatures expected soon, the sledders who enjoyed last week’s snow through the weekend will have to hit the slopes sooner this time.
To deal with things like last week’s sleet, snow and slush, and this week’s even heavier predicted snowfall, Oak Park Public Works Superintendent Mike Fenwick said his workers go on alternating midnight shifts. One week, half his crew is on midnight standby, and the other on standby the following week.
“The long duration snowfalls are the worst,” Fenwick said. “It takes a lot more effort to deal with a long duration snowfall.
That effort, he said, includes lots of salt, spread on streets by driver working a lot of extra hours and burning a lot of extra fuel.
But keeping the roads clear isn’t usually an option.
“We try to get the most guys (on duty) for when the snow starts,” he said.
And besides, Fenwick said, last week’s snow fall could have been far worse.
“At one point (predictions said) it could have snowed for 29 straight hours,” he said. “Thank goodness it didn’t.”
River Forest’s Superintendent of Operations Mark Janopoulos agreed that “I’d rather have a quick, heavy snow fall than something that lingers for days,”
Last year’s blizzard, he noted, “came down fast, hard and heavy, and we were home by evening the next day.”
This year, not exactly. The heavy, wet snow was followed by more accumulation over the following days.
Janopoulos said his crews use a combination of salt mixed with beet juice and the key is to stay ahead of the snow so the roads remain passable.
“With the surface temps up, the salt and beet juice was very effective,” he said.
“The mixture prevents surface bonding by the snow.”
Also helping should be the higher temperatures forecast for the end of this week.
After the snowfall Monday and Tuesday, the outlook was for partly sunny skies and above-freezing temperatures, with highs even climbing into the mid-40s by the weekend.~.