Authorities are urging caution ahead of Thursday’s potential snow event.
Despite some mild winter weather thus far, residents should not take forecasts lightly, Jerrod Fredricks, with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said. Residents, especially those in the rural areas, should prepare now, he said.
“They should be preparing to be possibly snowed in,” Fredricks said Wednesday. “If you’re out in the county, we will assist where we can.”
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Franklin County and surrounding areas from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday. Forecasts are showing the possibility of 6 to 10 inches of snow accumulation with a possible sleet or freezing rain mixture preceding the snow. Temperatures are expected to remain in the high 20s Thursday with winds near 30 miles per hour.
Should the forecast of 1 to 2 inches of snow an hour be accurate, Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County emergency management director, said snow plows may even have difficulties traversing the roadways. Radcliffe said people should take this storm serious because a winter storm warning indicates potential life-threatening severe winter conditions could occur in the next 24 hours.
“People need to make sure they’ve got plenty of medication and food and water. Be prepared if the power goes out to take care of themselves for the next two or three days. And tomorrow, don’t travel unless you absolutely have to,” Radcliffe said.
Radcliffe’s office is coordinating with the ambulance service, local law enforcement and the National Weather Service to handle the pending conditions, he said. Local emergency responders are as prepared as possible for the pending weather, Fredricks said. Fredricks said he expects to see a number of wrecks and vehicles sliding off roadways throughout the day. The office is hoping, he said, the wrecks do not involve injuries.
"It’s going to be all hands on deck, so it’ll be the sheriff on down to deputies,” Fredricks said.
The sheriff’s office has four-wheel drive SUVs, as well as the refurbished 1983 Humvee, to navigate rural roads, should someone need assistance, Fredricks said. However, residents should not rely on those vehicles being able to traverse the potentially treacherous roads, Fredricks cautioned, because they too can get stuck.
Each of the county’s four school districts have not yet determined whether school will be cancelled tomorrow. The districts’ administrators said they likely would make the decision late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.