With a possible six to 10 inches of snow sweeping into the West Lafayette area, Purdue and the city were hard at work with round-the-clock snow removal Tuesday.
Purdue Buildings and Grounds personnel stayed busy Tuesday night with 80 miles of sidewalks to clear on campus. Sixty-five grounds crews were split into two shifts, and arrangements were made for some building services employees to stay the night in the Purdue Memorial Union if necessary.
The snow came after sidewalks had already iced over, which interfered with the crews’ attempt to clear them ahead of time. But the crews were having difficulties in certain areas, according to Terry Ashlock, senior director of Purdue Buildings and Grounds.
“Because of the cold temperatures, ice melter or salt is not being very effective in the shaded areas,” Ashlock said. “So areas that are on the north side of the buildings are difficult, but the south side and east side of the buildings we were able to remove the snow from.”
Chief meteorologist for WLFI Chad Evans said despite the fact that snowfall should end around noon today, low temperatures are something be wary of.
“It’s still going to be a windy day with temperatures in the low twenties, but tonight – even though the wind is going to back off a little bit – it could drop below zero if the sky is pretty clear, and with that, windchills will be below zero too,” Evans said.
The residence halls and Purdue’s police and fire departments were specifically of first priority for snow removal efforts on campus.
In anticipation of the snowstorm, Purdue also eased parking restrictions Tuesday afternoon in an effort to help the city clear its roads. The relaxed enforcement will expire at 7 a.m. Thursday and excludes the Grant Street parking garage.
David Downey, street commissioner of West Lafayette, stresses that off-campus students and the rest of the city should not park on the street if at all possible.
“The biggest issue to press here is to try to get cars off the street so that we can plow as best as we can,” he said. “It’s difficult to get the snow out of the way when cars are parked far off the curb. It would be a great help if people can park their cars off the street or at least as close to the curb as possible.”
The city of West Lafayette and the Indiana Department of Transportation also started preparing early for the snowstorm by treating the streets and interstates like I-65 with de-icing chemicals since Monday.
“We’ve been pre-treating the roads ... using a salty water mixture. In addition to that, we’re making sure our equipment is in tiptop shape and loaded up, ready to hit to roads,” said Matt Deitchley, the LaPorte district media relations director for INDOT.
Local residents may expect relief from the winter weather in the early afternoon, but weekend snow is on the horizon.
“For the weekend, it’s still a little unclear. The potential exists for decent snow, even significant snow, but it’s way too early to tell with that system,” Evans said.
Special projects editor Taylor Carlier and managing editor Taylor Vincent contributed to this story.