A front loader was used by ODOT to push snow back along SR 15 south of Sr 613 on Wednesday. (Putnam Sentinel/Charlie Warnimont)
A front loader was used by ODOT to push snow back along SR 15 south of Sr 613 on Wednesday. (Putnam Sentinel/Charlie Warnimont)

PUTNAM COUNTY — This year winter seems to be the season that keeps on giving: Giving more snow, more wind and more cold. It also means much more work for village, township, county and state snow plow drivers who are trying to keep the roads as safe as possible.

“It started with the big storm after Christmas,” said Randy Brinkman, Superintendent of the Putnam County Garage “And it’s been a constant struggle with the roads ever since.”

Brinkman said when the first winter snow storm hit back at the end of December snow plow drivers spent three continuous days working around the clock trying to keep the roads open.

“The cold caused a lot of problems,” he said. “The snow was fine and it would get into the air filters and we had a lot of electrical problems. Brinkman said they also had problems with fuel line freeze up.

“Fortunately we have a couple spare trucks so we could send them out while we worked on the trucks with problems.”

Rhonda Pees, Public Information Officer with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the snow event has been one continuous event since the end of December.

“Actually today we are getting a little break,” she said. She said when the polar vortex hit the region at the end of December they had issues with equipment because of the cold. “We had problems with our air systems and brakes and also had fuel pump issues,” Pees said.

“Initially there was a lot of fine snow and frigid temperatures that caused problems with the plows engine compartments,” Pees said. “We aren’t having that problem so much with the most recent snow.”

Brinkman said since the initial snow storm the snow plow drivers have been putting in long days.

“We start plowing at 4:30 a.m. and work until 8 p.m,’ he said. “The drivers have been doing an outstanding job. They have been putting in a lot of hours and not complaining. They are understanding about the need to keep the roads clean.” He said with the winds the area has been having, they often pull the plows off the roads once it gets dark.

“Visibility is too difficult for the drivers when it’s dark,” he said.

Pees said state snow plow drivers have also been cooperative about putting in the overtime needed to keep the roads clean.

“They have been working 12-hour shifts and doing their best,” she said.

“We haven’t had a winter like this for 20 years,” Brinkman said. “Especially with the extreme cold we are having.”

“This has been a real winter,” Pees said. “We haven’t had cold temperatures like this and one snow storm following the other. It’s hard on the equipment.”

Pees said snow plow drivers appreciate it when people cooperate with them as they go down the road.

“It’s important not to crowd the plow,” she said. “Give them room to work.” She also said when there is blowing snow and you meet a snow plow driver you can get into a wide cloud of snow.

“Be aware this can happen, slow up and don’t panic,” she advised. “Know that in a very short time you will be through it and able to see again.”

Both Brinkman and Pees said they have ample salt for the roads.

Pees said the snow/ice season is from Nov. 1 to mid-April. In Putnam County ODOT workers put in an average of 7,609 hours during this season. This year, only two months into the season ODOT workers in Putnam County have worked 6,799 hours.