Winter Storm Landon is on its way, and it could be one to remember as snow piles up and driving conditions worsen.
Areas in Wayne and Ashland counties can expect upwards of 8 to 12 inches of snow while Holmes County could see between 6 to 8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
The three counties are under a winter storm watch starting Wednesday evening through Friday morning.
While Landon may dump a lot of snow, temperatures will determine who receives the most snowfall, said the weather service. The areas where colder temperatures arrive first, like those along Lake Erie, will get the most snow.
As temperatures drop across northern Ohio, the weather service warns of sleet and freezing rain, which will make driving hazardous and may result in downed power lines and trees.
With early warning about the pending storm, area residents have been preparing by stocking up on groceries, making sure shovels are handy and snow blowers are in working order and preparing to dig out. Educators are watching the forecast and the skies in anticipation of school cancellations. And city, township and county road crews are gearing up for a long stretch of clearing and salting roads.
Here's a look at the calm before the storm in Wayne, Holmes and Ashland counties.
Residents stock up on provisions
Customers on Tuesday were flocking to stock up on essentials and comfort foods at Buehler's Milltown in Wooster.
"Is wine considered a comfort food," laughed Brenda Courson of Wooster, one of the many shoppers preparing ahead for the predicted winter storm. "I'm just making sure I have enough of the essentials, like Kleenex."
Buehler's Store Manager Geri Shie said as soon as the weather forecast came out on Monday, business began to pick up.
The Winter Storm Watch has been upgraded to a warning for parts of our region. Lower confidence in precip types and amounts remains in the watch area. Our latest snow and ice forecasts are at https://t.co/pcMYBsrmgA. #OHwx #PAwx pic.twitter.com/ovnhrHn4lK
— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) February 1, 2022
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"The forecast wasn't for sure, but the maybes had people concerned," Shie said. "I think, too, what happened last week up in Boston, that kind of planted the seed here and people started reacting and shopping."
That in turn had Shie contacting her suppliers to make sure the store had enough stock to meet demand.
"We're really lucky to have local partners we work with like Smith Dairy and Gerber's to try and get extra product in quickly for our customers," Shie said. "So far, we're in good shape."
Shie noted people seemed to be buying essentials for children, such as milk and formula.
"If you're going to be snowed in, what's that comfort food you like to have, whether it's snack foods or a particular soup," she said. "Things have been going really well. Customers have been very understanding. We're glad to have the business."
Shie said she can't remember Buehler's ever closing due to weather.
"Over the years, we try to stay open as long as we can, until it gets to the point where we have to be off the road," she said. "We try to have enough people here for our customers."
Shovels, generators in high demand as area awaits Winter Storm Landon
As people prepare for the snow, sleet and freezing rain, hardware stores are seeing a flood of customers purchasing everything from rock salt to shovels and kerosene heaters.
While many area hardware stores have a good stock, some items are in low supply as demand soars.
Shovels are in short supply around Wooster, said Arnold Schrock of Weavers True Value Hardware in Fredericksburg.
"We've had quite a few people from around Wooster saying that they couldn't find any shovels there," Schrock said. "Demand is up and I think we will run out of shovels soon."
Kerosene heaters are also flying off the shelves, he said.
"We have at least another palette of salt in back," Schrock said. "We're a local store; we know the seasons and what to expect each winter."
But as the hours tick closer to Landon's arrival, he expects more and more customers to deplete supplies.
At Ashland's Farm and Home Hardware, General Manager Chuck Hodous said generators and snow blowers are in short supply.
"I think people are anticipating the snow and a possible power outage," Hodous said. "We are pretty good on shovels, rock salt, sleds and heaters."
School delays and closures possible
Schools are keeping a watchful eye on the forecast.
Hillsdale Local Superintendent Steven Dickerson said the decision to delay or cancel school can be hard since the weather projections change.
“I mean it changes drastically,” Dickerson said. “One point yesterday it said up to an inch and a half of ice and up to 16 inches of snow, and now it's a half-inch of ice and 8 inches of snow, and it’ll keep changing. We know we're going to get hit with something.”
Even with the ever-changing projections, Dickerson said, he advised his staff to be prepared in case classes are called off because he doesn’t want anyone on the roads if the weather is bad.
If travel becomes tricky Wednesday night, families might hear from some schools about delays or cancellations, he said.
While no decision has been made for Chippewa Local, Superintendent Todd Osborn said a plan for Thursday classes might come by Wednesday afternoon.
“(The National Weather Service) is kind of telling us that come Wednesday night it’s going to be the rain-snow mix and eventually become ice-snow mix through Thursday and then Friday with the wind making drifts,” Osborn said.
While Dickerson and Osborn said they both know it can be hard to make predictions on how bad the storm could get, they also recognize last-minute delays and cancellations can be difficult for parents and caregivers.
“A lot of people have to do a lot of scrambling,” Dickerson said. “It’s never easy, but as much notice as we can give them, we promise we will give them. Our goal is to be in school every day, but it's not at the expense of safety."
Cities and counties prepare to tackle the snow
To prepare for the big snowfall, employees at Ashland's Ohio Department of Transportation District 3 are filling trucks with salt and brine, a mixture of salt and water, while nearly 3,000 tons of salt is on hand.
Winter combat supplies will be split among Ashland's main garage on Clark Avenue, Perrysville and Nova, District 3 spokesperson Kaitlyn Thompson said.
Drivers will work 12-hour shifts manning 15 ODOT trucks around the clock, Thompson said.
And before the snow falls, they must ensure bridges, roadways and catch basins are clear of debris, Thompson added.
The Ashland County Engineer's Office has around 2,200 tons of salt ready for the storm, Engineer Edward Meixner said. "As soon as it starts to get slippery we'll have guys out," he said. "No one knows exactly when that'll be."
Meixner's office will be in communication with county law enforcement agencies to help pinpoint hazardous locations.
The engineer's office will have 16 employees covering 280 miles of county roads, Meixner said.
Wooster has roughly 2,000 tons of salt ready for Winter Storm Landon, which should be more than enough, Public Properties Maintenance Division Manager Curt Denning said.
Wooster has 12 mainline trucks covering six sections of the city.
"We'll keep things passable as much as we can," Denning said.
The city has 330 lane miles to cover and once the last snowflakes fall, it typically takes between 12 to 14 hours before all the snow is pushed to the curb, Denning said.
Severe Weather Shelter will be open
Anyone without heat or shelter in the coming days can head to the Wooster Salvation Army Severe Weather Shelter.
Constance Higgins of the nonprofit said they plan to open the shelter from Wednesday to Feb. 13.
The shelter is open any time the outdoor temperature drops below 20 degrees or feels colder than 20. It opens at 6 p.m. and is open all night.
Guests should use the Family Life Center door of the Salvation Army, which faces Ohio Street, Higgins said. Guests are asked to arrive by 10 p.m.
The Daily Record reporters Bryce Buyakie, Rachel Karas and Kevin Lynch, and Ashland Times-Gazette writer Grant Ritchey contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Winter storm prep: Folks stock up on food, shovels and brace for snow