DECATUR — Street crews are preparing for a winter storm that could drop up to 7 inches of snow across Central Illinois this weekend. 

Daniel Mendenall, the city's municipal services manager, said the department's approach to clearing city streets during the winter storm will ultimately depend on how much snow the area could get. He said a decision on whether crews will attack the snow by spreading salt or plowing will likely be made sometime this Friday afternoon.

Mendenall said the municipal services department has the ability to send out 18 trucks on the roads during winter storms. Once trucks are deployed, he said, they'll work to clear the main roads first and then make their way to residential areas.

Crews had already been spreading salt brine on the streets since early Thursday morning, Mendenall said.

"If we do get enough snow, (the salt brine) doesn't allow the snow to bond to the pavement," he said.

A winter storm watch will go into effect Friday evening and continue through late Saturday night, said forecasters with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. Decatur is expected to receive about 6 inches of snow, while the Taylorville area could see 7 inches. 

“Travel will be rough over most of Central Illinois,” said Ed Shimon, a meteorologist with the weather service. “Basically, that’s all of the way from Interstate 80 south to Interstate 64 near St. Louis.”

Mendenall said that in order for the road crews to clear the streets as quickly and efficiently as possible, people are encouraged to avoid driving if they don’t have anywhere to be.

"More vehicles on the road slows us down," he said. "If people can stay home, we can get it done as fast as we can. The roads will be a lot safer and there will be a lot less chances for accidents."

Macon County Engineer Bruce Bird said the county highway department anticipates having crews working to clear roads from early Saturday to the end of Sunday evening.

One thing that Bird says the department is keeping an eye on is how much wind the storm is supposed to bring, as it makes clearing the roads tougher — especially out on the countryside.

Regardless, he said, the department will have the manpower and the equipment to get the job done. 

"No matter how much snow we get, we'll take care of it," Bird said. 

Thursday’s high temperature will be around 28 degrees and clouds will move in today Friday with a high near 35. The snow is expected to arrive late tonight (Friday night). Saturday’s high will be around 32 degrees.

Winds will be out of the east on Saturday and Sunday, with some gusts as high as 15 mph. The sky will clear as next week begins, and temperatures will warm up slightly, hitting 37 degrees by Wednesday.

Decatur Airport Director Tim Wright said crews are also prepared to clear the facility's runways of snow once the storm hits. He said they'll likely have eight people working different equipment working during the snowfall, and will be closely monitoring forecasts and other weather data throughout the storm.

"We're well prepared for snow events since we do live in the snow belt area," Wright said.

Wright suggests anyone scheduled to fly on Cape Air during the snowfall should reach out to the airline about cancellations. Ticketholders can check the status of their flights either by calling Cape Air at 1-800-227-3247 (CAPE AIR) or visiting www.capeair.com.

Reporter Kevin Barlow contributed to this story. 

Past winters in Decatur

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Contact Jaylyn Cook at (217) 421-7980. Follow him on Twitter: @jaylyn_HR


Government Reporter

Government reporter for the Herald & Review.

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