Winter storm leaves icy mess
Early Wednesday a few hardy snowflakes were discernable in the streetlights. An hour or so later, barely audible clicks of sleet could be heard bouncing off skylights and car tops. School children and teachers, who were anticipating a snow day, awoke to calm winds and a dusting of white that promised to blow away at the first hint of a breeze. All in all, Jamestown was spared from the perils of winter that paralyzed many northern cities across the country, especially in upstate New York.
However, all was not lost for the teachers and students. Drop- ping temperatures made the roads slippery and hazardous on Valentine's Day morning. As a precaution, many schools were closed in Jamestown, North Kingstown, Middletown, and the surrounding area. Although the storm came in with a whimper, winter-like weather was still expected. The day promised high winds with rain, sleet, and snow in the evening that could accumulate to several inches. Nonetheless, most Jamestowners remained optimistic.
The highway department at Fort Wetherill was a flurry of activity as men readied machinery and equipment on Tuesday afternoon. Chris Russell of the highway department said, "We're ready to go. We've checked all the equipment and everything is up and running perfectly. Our protocols are in place, so we are prepared for anything. No matter what happens, everybody knows what to do and when to do it."
"Salt and Ice Melt is selling like mad," said Steve Sherman of Jamestown True Value Hardware on Narragansett Avenue, around 5 p.m. on Tuesday. "We've only sold half a dozen shovels, though." A few minutes later, a McQuade's Marketplace employee said, "We've had a run on milk and bread, but that's about all. I think people are just getting ready to hunker down - not go outside."
On Wednesday morning, Heidi Lessard of the Secret Garden said that the weather wasn't going to hinder Valentine's Day deliveries. "I have five trucks on the road, and so far, everything will be delivered as planned," she said.
Although temperatures were forecast to rise during the day and turn snow and sleet into rain, meteorologists anticipated the mercury to plummet in the evening and overnight, which would freeze the rain. The combination of freezing rain and sleet would quickly ice the roadways. Blustery winds out of the northeast promised to bring the wind chill factor into single digits and make driving even more hazardous.