SNOW SIGHTING: City already preparing for winter weather

COLUMBIA CITY — Tuesday morning brought the first sign of snowflakes. Blowing snow and sleet rode in on the northeast winds of Hurricane Sandy.Columbia City’s Street Department already has snow in its sights. Superintendent Kelly Cearbaugh said the city’s mechanic is currently checking the plows to ensure all is in working order before the blades are hooked onto city trucks.“Right now we are still in leaf season,”said Cearbaugh. “But once we are out of that, our box trucks will start making the transition from leaves to salt.”The street department provides snow removal for approximately 48 miles of city streets.Due to last year’s mild conditions, the city has some leftover salt to start the winter season.“We have a full barn right now. I think we are in good shape,” said Cearbaugh.As far as the amount of salt the city is estimating to use this season, Cearbaugh said he plans to go by last year’s numbers. “If we need more, we can get another 500 tons,” said Cearbaugh.In his recollection, Cearbaugh said in the past three years the first part of December seems to be when the city saw its first considerable amount of snow fall. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac,, this year’s precipitation and snowfall in Indiana will generally be below normal, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-November, early January and early March.