Janesville69.6°

Another storm hammers Rock, Walworth counties

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Gazette Staff
February 6, 2008
— It was 9 inches and counting as of 9 a.m. today.

All schools closed.


Rock County government shut down most operations.


Every city and county plow was on the road.


More than a foot of snow was predicted before the biggest snowstorm of the season ends this evening.


Plowing out

Rock County highway crews were having trouble this morning keeping east-west roads open. Some were reduced to single lanes because of drifting snow, said Lt. Gary Groelle of the Rock County Sheriff’s Department.


Drivers were pulled in at 8 p.m. Tuesday, went back out at 3 a.m. today and were on the Interstate all night, Groelle said.


In Janesville, plow crews went out at 4 p.m. Tuesday and stayed on the job until midnight, when fresh drivers replaced them. The replacement drivers worked until 8 a.m., when the earlier crew returned to work, said Mandy Bonneville, assistant operations director.


The city had 33 pieces of snow-removal equipment out this morning.


Janesville’s main streets and dangerous areas such as bridges and hills were plowed overnight.


The entire city will be plowed after the storm, Bonneville said.


In Walworth County, all 32 plows started about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Drivers pulled off at about 11 p.m. to sleep in their trucks or on the floor of the public works garage, Price said.


Off the roads

In Rock County, the sheriff’s department and 911 dispatch center reported “a few runoffs and no major accidents” as of 7:30 a.m.


Walworth County deputies responded to about 30 runoffs scattered throughout the county from Tuesday afternoon through this morning plus a handful of minor accidents, Patrol Captain Scott McClory said.


Every squad, including the sheriff’s department’s four-wheel-drive trucks and sport utility vehicles, was on the road this morning, McClory said. The department’s snowmobiles were ready to be deployed as well.


The department was prioritizing calls today until the storm ended.


“If you call us about a theft from overnight, we’re probably not going to get to it today,” he said.


The forecast


Imagine a cigar-shaped area from Monroe to the Milwaukee area. That’s where the most snow will fall today, said National Weather Service forecaster Rusty Kapela.


The Janesville-Beloit area is right in the middle of the cigar, and Kapela saw every indication at 8:30 a.m. today that 12 to 15 inches of snow would be the total for the storm that started Tuesday afternoon.


Kapela said he felt confident of the prediction of more than a foot of snow because he had reports of 8 inches or more in the Brodhead-Orfordville area by 7:30 a.m.


Kapela expected bands of heavier snow to sweep through the area in waves until early evening.


Visibility will be limited at times, and winds will cause drifting in rural areas, but the winds will not be strong enough to call this a blizzard, Kapela said. Winds should weaken tonight.


Cancellations

Janesville students might have had a rough time of it today.


Schools were closed, but so was the Janesville Mall.


Never fear, though, Hedberg Public Library opened its doors at 9 a.m. sharp.


“We’ve got to have somewhere for the kids to go,” said Burdette Richter, manager of The Ground Floor coffee shop at the library.


Rock County government shut down all operations except emergency services, public works, Rock Haven Nursing Home and the juvenile detention center. Garbage and recycling pick-up was canceled in Janesville, Beloit and Milton. Even the local colleges canceled classes.


Janesville Transit System buses were running, said Dave Mumma, transit director.


“We will continue to operate unless the city of Janesville Public Works Operations Department says they cannot keep the streets open,” Mumma said at 9 a.m.


All Walworth County government offices were open today, including the health and human services department.


However, the department has cancelled its senior services, Meals-on-Wheels program and transport services for the day. The department also reported having limited staff due to the weather.


Lots of tickets

Vehicles had to be off Janesville streets as of 11 p.m. Tuesday to comply with the snow emergency.


But as of 6 a.m. today, Janesville police had ticketed 237 vehicles left on city streets.


All vehicles must be removed from city streets and public parking lots until the snow ends and streets are plowed. Fines for parking on the streets during a snow emergency are $20.


Salt and snowblowers

If you haven’t bought salt for your sidewalk, it might be too late.


“The big shortage I think in town is salt,” Steve Accola, manager of Harris Ace Hardware, 200 S. River St., Janesville, said at 8 a.m. today. “We are barely hanging on, but I don’t think we’ll have it by the end of the day.”


The store already has sold four truckloads of salt this year, Accola said. In a normal year, it sells about one-and-a-half trucks’ worth.


Dave Warren, owner of Dave’s Ace Hardware in Milton, said his store was doing OK on salt because he’d placed a large order earlier this week.


“I kind of had a feeling something would happen,” he said.


Other items going fast at hardware stores are ice scrapers, roof rakes and tube sand, retailers reported.


Porter’s Lawn and Power Equipment, 1640 Center Ave, Janesville, had three snowblowers left this morning after starting the season with hundreds in stock, co-owner Sandy Porter said.


Accola said he’s already looking ahead to when the snow melts.


“When all this snow goes, we’re going to be looking at sump pumps, all the stuff to deal with the flooding,” he said.


Still, he’s trying to look on the bright side.


“We were actually thinking of putting suntan oil at the front, just to give people some hope,” he said.



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