A snowstorm rocked Howard County last week, dropping a substantial amount of snow and leaving many schools and restaurants closed for a few days.
Last Monday afternoon, the snow began to fall, measuring up to two inches per hour, and by the next morning, snow had accumulated to over nine inches in Kokomo, sending Howard County into an orange travel advisory by Monday evening. Despite the deep snow, Kokomo Assistant Street Commissioner Clint VanNatter said the street department had a 24-hour turnaround in clearing roads.
City plows were able to get primary thoroughfares completely plowed by early Tuesday morning and the secondary streets by the following morning by 7 a.m., he said. Primary thoroughfares represent major routes within the city, such as East Markland Avenue or North Washington Street. Secondary routes represent smaller roads that go into subdivisions or neighborhoods.
A 24-hour turnaround for routes, VanNatter said, was done by calling in “everybody” in the city, such as the sewer maintenance department, which was charged with plowing streets west of South Philips Street. VanNatter said there were 13 trucks on each shift, working 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday.
Into Friday, the crews were still at it.
“Right now, we’re out. We’re just doing touch-ups, places that there had been parked cars that have been moved, pushing back corners and intersections, putting down some salt, things like that,” VanNatter said last Friday. “We’re hoping that if we do get something again, it’s not going to be heavy, and it’ll just be something we can treat with salt.”
With 18 years under his belt with the department, VanNatter compared last week’s snow to the storm of 2014.
“This was very memorable, like 2014 with the big snow we had then,” VanNatter said. “And I think they’re saying maybe 10 or 11 inches (during that snowstorm), but with that wind, it sure made things a lot worse.”
January 2014 represented one of the snowiest and coldest months on record for Kokomo. The city received upward of 30 inches of snowfall that month. It still was shy of record snow levels, however, which stood at 44 inches in 1918.
Chuck Bolan, owner of C & D Snow Removal, said he’s had no shortage of business this year. Bolan plowed 135 driveways from Tuesday morning to Friday morning and completed an 18-hour workday on Thursday.
While Bolan mainly plows residential and commercial areas, he remembered that in 2014, he plowed Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo as well.
“The last time I was busy like this, I’d say was the big storm we got in 2014,” Bolan said. “That was worse than this. We got more snow at one time, and we had heavier winds. It took me two-and-a-half days to get Ivy Tech open, and that was with their guys coming out and helping some.”
The second-highest snowfall came in 1982 at 43 inches, and then, of course, there was the blizzard of 1978, which many consider the worst snowstorm in recent history. That year, snowfall measured 40.8 inches.
According to the National Weather Service, Kokomo received 9.1 inches of snow on Feb. 16, and Russiaville recorded up to seven inches.
In a social media post made by the City of Kokomo, officials encouraged citizens and private plow companies that were clearing snow to move snow away from city streets to limit the amount of built-up snow.