Lake County municipalities are dealing with subzero temperatures and snow for the second time in a month, and now officials say they are trying to conserve their resources to survive the rest of the winter.
Lake Forest and Libertyville officials say their crews are working around the clock to clear and salt roads, but the extreme winter weather is both depleting salt supplies and exhausting public works crews.
The National Weather Service shows temperatures could drop in Lake Forest as low as 7 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 32 degrees below zero. In Libertyville, temperatures could drop to 5 degrees below zero with a wind chill of negative 32 degrees.
The cold temperatures closed schools and libraries in Lake Forest and Libertyville today. Officials from the primary and secondary school districts in both municipalities cited cold temperatures for the closure. After-school activities such as sporting events and school board meetings also were canceled. Officials in those districts also canceled classes for Tuesday because of the cold.
Officials in Libertyville estimated the town at least 5 inches of snow over the weekend. In total, Libertyville has received at least 25 inches of snow this January.
In Lake Forest, officials predict they have also had at least 25 inches of snow this January.
Lake Forest Public Works Director Mike Thomas said crews have been working non-stop to remove snow and salt roads during snow showers and cold. He said crews currently are most concerned about snow drifts and low levels of salt.
He said the city is looking to buy more salt as revenues are running low. He said crews are using less salt to conserve it by only salting main roads, parking lots and hills.
"It's becoming a hot commodity for everybody," he said. "We're trying to find some salt (to buy) and at the same time, treating what we have like gold."
According to a press release from the Lake Forest Public Works Department, the city has plowed 43 times since the winter began, and used about 3,200 tons of salt.
The release says the department only will salt main streets, hills, curves, intersections and parking lots, and only will do so after snow has stopped falling.
In Libertyville, officials are facing the same problem. Libertyville Public Works Director John Heinz said officials there also are looking to buy more salt to replenish depleted stores.
At a meeting in early January, the village board approved buying $70,000 more in salt this year.
But Heinz said officials still are trying to find a vendor from which to purchase the salt. In the meantime, public works employees are mixing salt with sand to conserve what they do have.
While they seek more salt to last them through the winter months, officials agree crews are being exhausted by the back-to-back winter events.
While crews are tired, Heinz and Thomas said they're hoping to get some rest to tackle what they both believe will be a long winter.
"I've lived here my whole like and usually you'll have a couple of events," Heinz said. "But it just keeps going and going."