With snowfall forecast to start early on New Years Day, the City of Manhattan has Public Works crews on standby to treat snowy and icy roadways around town.

Riley County is braced for the weather, with a winter storm warning — upgraded from a watch Friday — in effect from midnight January 1 through midnight January 2. Chance of precipitation is highly likely amid the forecast 10 degree Fahrenheit temperatures according to National Weather Service projections. Between two to eight inches of snow is anticipated.

As precipitation is expected to start around midnight New Years Day, Manhattan officials have planned to deploy snowplow crews to be in the Aggieville area that evening in anticipation of revelers attending the Little Apple New Years Eve Celebration on Moro Street.

“We do have a couple trucks that are kind of preloaded with our crews to help clear snow around Aggieville,” says Assistant to the City Manager Jared Wasinger. “So travelers in the district can kind of get out safely after the ball drops.”

Public Works personnel have been pre-treating roadways around the city with salt brine, a process that will continue Friday. Additionally, snowplow crews will operate two 12-hour shifts starting Saturday morning as the storm warning begins.

Ten plow vehicles will be operating around the city at any given time, and Wasinger urges residents and motorists out and about during the storm to be cautious and to be mindful of the plows.

“Kind of give them room […] so they can get through when they’re driving past you,” he says. “We ask if residents can, if possible, park in your driveway. Kind of keep the streets clear because that’s where that snow gets plowed, to the sides of those streets.”

Snow removal on roadways will follow a familiar process, prioritizing major and primary streets and bridges first.

“If our crews are able to kind of get ahead of the storm and clear out those primary roadways, they’ll move on to some more secondary ones.”

The City of Manhattan has an intergovernmental agreement with Fort Riley to bulk purchase salt melt dating to 2018, which Wasinger says is well prepared.

“This is kind of the first event of the year so we’re stocked up and hopefully we’ll be able to get through the end of the winter without needing to reload too much,” Wasinger says.

Utility personnel are also on-call in the event of water or sewer main breaks in need of emergency repairs. Following the storm, Public Works will calculate the total cost of the operation as well as assess and patch weather-related damage to roadways around the city.

“Usually after these types of storm, we start to see some of that damage occurring with potholes,” says Wasinger. “And then we try and patch those throughout the winter knowing that we can come back in the Spring with maybe some more permanent solutions.”

The City of Manhattan will not host a warming station amid the storm, though area social service providers and government officials are working to ensure assistance is there for those who need it. Wasinger says such stations have been discussed, but personnel shortages have posed an obstacle.

“Staffing is the big issue,” says Wasinger. “We don’t necessarily have staffing available to meet the needs of a warming facility so it’s something we’re really hoping to achieve in the future.”

In lieu of a city-run warming station, Wasinger says groups including Konza United Way, the Manhattan Emergency Shelter and Be Able are cooperating to provide help in the event one’s home loses power or heat during the cold. A 211 phone line is available for those in need.

“We’re directing folks to call that 211 line,” Wasinger says. “And hopefully our Konza United Way team with Be Able and the Manhattan Emergency Shelter and city and county staff can find resources for those individuals.”

211 services are free and confidential. If you find yourself in need of support during the winter storm, dial 211 for assistance connecting to available resources.

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