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The winter season is officially underway, and the Village of Park Forest Public Works Department is preparing for the season's first significant winter storm. Forecasters predict the region will see blizzard-like conditions starting on Thursday afternoon and continuing through Friday.
With frigid temperatures to follow, residents who need a warm place to go should know the Park Forest Police Department, located at 200 Lakewood Blvd, serves as a warming shelter and is open 24 hours daily. Village Hall, at 350 Victory Drive, also serves as a warming shelter during regular business hours.
The combination of dangerously cold temperatures with strong winds will create blowing snow over the next several days. Public Works Director Roderick Ysaguirre said this would make plowing streets throughout the Village complex.
"Winds create snow drifts, which are uneven piles of snow, and that could make visibility difficult for driving," Ysaguirre said. "Those conditions could slow snow removal, and strong winds can cause power outages, which means our maintenance yard could be affected."
Ysaguirre added that subzero temperatures could affect equipment from operating correctly. Additionally, he said temperatures that low could also cause the ground to freeze, which means water mains may break - which would be another problem on its own.
Ysaguirre said people should stay indoors and off the roadways if possible. However, if residents must venture out during this winter storm, he said they should use extreme caution.
"Remember, drive slow according to road and weather conditions, and Leave space between you and other vehicles," said Ysaguirre. "It's a good idea to start your braking sooner than you usually would to minimize sliding.
Ysaguirre said his department has been monitoring the latest weather forecast and preparing equipment and materials. He said his staff is ready for whatever mother nature may bring. He said residents could help crews by doing a few things ahead of the storm.
"Move your parked cars into driveways and off the roads so plows have room to work to clear more of the road," said Ysaguirre. "And so that other vehicles don’t damage your parked vehicles."
Ysaguirre added with a winter storm of this magnitude, residents should be patient as his team will work around the clock to clear the roadways.
"Plowing our two main priority routes takes approximately three to four hours," Ysaguirre said. "Then teams break up, and each plows their assigned local street routes - which could take another three hours. Then we repeat the process."
Ysaguirre said during a snow event, the main goal is to keep up with the snowfall. The department is doing so by using its full fleet of equipment which includes seven snow plows and two additional trucks that are used for clearing courts and tighter spaces.
Ysaguirre went on to say when the snow stops falling and we do our final passes throughout all streets will residents and motorists see lasting progress.
He said the next day, crews will be out again doing a further clearing of roads and on-street parking spaces, so please be sure to move cars parked on streets for a more effective clearing.
Village Manager Tom Mick said residents should stay tuned to local media reports about the upcoming winter storm as forecasts sometimes change. Additionally, he said people should shovel their sidewalks and driveways when it's safe to do so and check on their neighbors.
Click here for more information on how the Village removes snow and ice during a winter storm.