Be ready for severe winter weather

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Power usage, road clearing, frozen pipes concerns

In February 2021, the nation was sent into what was novelly called, “Snowmageddon.”

Texas literally froze over in an unprecedented cold snap, and the midwest saw temperatures plummeting into the negatives, with ice and snow covering the ground.

During the week of Feb. 7, 2021, people in Cassville were concerned about the roads, water pipes, as well as, major concerns of power shortages.

Before the area sees severe weather in 2022, the city of Cassville and Barry Electric have released information residents should know.

Laura Holycross, Barry Electric Cooperative public relations and marketing coordinator, sent an article on winter energy efficiency from Rural Missouri News Services from January 2021.

This article included tips and tricks including:

• Open curtains and drapes on the south and west facing windows on warm sunny winter days.

• Set the thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter

• Caulk and weatherstrip around doors and windows

• If buying space heater, go for electric

During extreme weather, electric usage spikes, an unintended consequence of that usage Barry Electric, and other regional utilities, see intermittent service disruptions.

Other ways to help decrease that consumption include:

• Turn down your thermostat a few degrees and use a blanket or warm clothing to help conserve and stay warm.

• Limit the use of larger appliances such as laundry or dishwashers.

• Use smaller kitchen appliances like toaster ovens, microwaves and slow cookers to make meals, rather than relying on your range or oven.

• Be sure to turn off and unplug space heaters that you don’t need to use. Be mindful of the amount of time you utilize a space heater and reduce, if possible.

• Keep fireplace dampers closed when not in use.

• Unplug/turn off unused electronics, chargers, and lights.

When it comes to frozen water pipes, David Brock, Cassville public works director, said the best way to keep pipes from freezing is to insulate them, but that is not always feasible.

Tips for water pipes in severe weather include:

Before the freeze

• Check sprinklers, irrigations systems and outside faucets. Make sure everything is turned off/drained and that there are no hoses attached to outside spigots.

• Eliminate sources of cold air and drafts near water lines. Fix drafty windows and doors. Identify your home’s freezing points.

• Close/seal crawl space vents and access doors

• Know how to shut off your water.

• Protect your pipes – wrap them in insulation.

When temperatures stay below freezing

• Keep garage doors closed

• Open cabinet doors that have vulnerable water pipes inside

• Let faucets drip

• Keep the thermostat at a constant temperature and leave the heat to at least 55°

• Keep interior doors open

If pipes do freeze

• Shut off the water immediately

• Thaw pipes with warm air, with a hair dryer or space heater. Do not leave space heaters unattended or use kerosene heaters or open flames.

But, what about needing to leave the house and get on the roads? The city of Cassville tackles the responsibility of keeping you safe on the roads too.

Brock said top priorities are main thoroughfares, access to Public Safety, Public Works and emergency medical facilities, bridges and overpasses, low and medium volume roads with extreme slopes.

“Secondary priorities are city streets accessing local government and school facilities, public roads in business districts, access to municipal utilities,” he said. “Lowest priorities are parking areas for public safety agencies and City Hall, low and medium volume roads, Airport taxiways and runway. By mutual agreement, the City performs snow and ice control at the Cassville Fire District Station 1, the Barry County Sheriff’s office, Barry County Jail and Barry County E-911 facilities.”

For snow removal, the city of Cassville can equip 5 trucks with plows and salt spreaders; the trucks range in size from 1 to 2 tons.

“Typically we will have two to three trucks working at any one time particularly if we have to staff more than one shift,” Brock said. “Plows are usually ineffective until snow reaches 2” in depth. Because of Cassville’s hilly topography we will use road salt/lime chip for almost every event. For ice storms and during extremely cold temps when plow blades won’t bite into the snow pack, salt and lime chip application is about all that can be done.”

According to the city snow removal policy, most snowplow operators are assigned a route based on the priorities established by this policy or a more specific operational plan.

However, calls for service will be logged and periodically forwarded to snow removal supervisors for review and potential action. Residents are encouraged to report hazardous conditions but should be cognizant that such conditions may exist across the entire community.

Cassville does not formally restrict on-street parking during snow/ice events. However, residents should realize that on-street parking severely impacts an already hazardous task for snow plow operators. It is dangerous and difficult to plow narrow streets congested with parked vehicles.

On-street parking limits also a plow operator’s ability to move the snow pack to the edge of pavement. Residents are strongly encouraged to move vehicles and/or trailers to an off-street location before or during a winter storm.

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