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Blades braced for blizzard

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Anticipating the biggest snowstorm of the season, the public works departments from the city of Hays and Ellis County were hard at work Tuesday in preparation.

"We're prepping all of our snowplows and trucks, making sure our salt supply and everything is in good order," said Ellis County Public Works Director Mike Graf.

Ellis County was put under a winter storm warning Tuesday for today and Thursday. Snow accumulation is expected to be in the 10- to 14-inch range, with some blowing and drifting, said Hays Public Works Director I.D. Creech after a Tuesday afternoon briefing with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather officials.

Both city and county crews were on roadways Tuesday, treating them in preparation for the approaching storm.

"We do a pre-storm anti-icing treatment with a salt brine mixture we apply to the roads," Graf said.

County crews treated approximately 150 miles of paved county roads, while city crews treated the emergency snow routes in Hays.

The emergency snow route plan was put into place Tuesday afternoon. The city manager can declare a winter traffic emergency, which makes it unlawful to park on a street designated as an emergency snow route. By city ordinance, if a winter storm traffic emergency is declared and vehicles are not moved, they will be towed at the owner's expense, the city said in a news release. The map of emergency snow routes is available at www.haysusa.com.

"We're anticipating so much snow, we're going to need all the roadway we can have out there," Creech said.

The county has seven trucks with plows, two more trucks used to carry snow, and 17 motor graders that can have snow plows attached.

"The snowplows, checking their blades, making sure they get nice, good edges on them, and other preventative maintenance we need to do before the storm hits," Graf said of preparations.

The storm has the potential to be one of the biggest in recent years.

"If it comes out at 14 inches, it definitely will be," Creech said. "We're gearing up to be very busy."