It can happen any day. A gray winter sky will open and dump several inches of snow on Lawrence.
Tom Orzulak, manager of the Lawrence Public Works Department's Street Division, knows what will happen next. It's similar to what happened earlier this week when a winter storm brought sleet and ice to the area.
Motorists will drive too fast, and there will be accidents, he said. Drivers will complain because certain streets aren't cleared fast enough especially the ones in front of their homes.
"The first snow is always the worst," Orzulak said during a recent interview. "People just need to slow down."
With 6News weather forecaster Jamie Warriner predicting that 3 to 6 inches of snow will fall before noon today, the Lawrence street division may have its work cut out for it.
The street division has a street-clearing plan that, with minor modifications, has been used for nine years, Orzulak said. It calls for city trucks to clear the main thoroughfares as well as streets near schools.
The main streets are Sixth, 23rd, 15th and Iowa and Kasold Drive, Orzulak said. Then workers will move to streets such as Monterey Way, Lawrence Avenue and Peterson Road.
"It takes about three hours to get all of the main roads and the school streets cleared," Orzulak said. "It's about five or six hours to do all of the streets at least once."
Most residential streets have the lowest priority.
"The reality is the street in front of your house is the one you spend the least amount of time on," Orzulak said.
Tom Orzulak, manager, Lawrence Public Works Department's Street Division
Street workers use a salt-and-sand mixture designed to melt ice and snow. The mix raises the temperature of snow and causes it to turn into a brine and melt as traffic moves through it, Orzulak said. Streets usually aren't plowed unless snow piles up more than three inches he said.
"Just because a street is snow-covered doesn't mean it isn't treated," Orzulak said.
Recent mild winters have allowed the city to stockpile treatment materials and buy less each year.