Mundelein prepared for snow
Mundelein's Street Superintendent Craig Schaul (left) and Deputy Director of Public Works Joe DeVito hold some of the village's excess road salt. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:25AM
MUNDELEIN – Last winter was among the mildest Chicago and its suburbs have experienced in a century.
One result was an overstock in salt, a big problem for municipalities that were contractually obligated to buy specific amounts.
Deputy Director of Public Works Joe DeVito said Mundelein was one of a few municipalities able to avoid that problem. While the village did have leftover salt, DeVito said the silo was large enough to still take this year’s regular shipment.
Mundelein’s salt silo was built in 1995 and can hold 2,800 tons of salt. More than 2,200 tons of salt have been stacked into the complex so far, and DeVito said his crews would be hard pressed to cram much more into the complex.
Vernon Hills, in comparison, can store 1,200 tons of salt at its public works facility, and administrators were forced to call neighbors for help storing leftover salt.
“We got calls from several towns, but we couldn’t help anyone,” DeVito said. “We’re very fortunate to have a big enough building to avoid that problem ourselves.”
All municipal salt purchasing contracts target a desired amount and then allow for as little as 80 percent of that target or as high as 120 percent to be purchased.
With this year’s overstock after purchasing the minimum 80 percent, another mild winter would put Mundelein in the same jam as every other municipality.
However, Mundelein is confident winter will return. For the first time, the village will hire an independent contractor to help with snow plowing and road salting.
That contractor will be responsible for the Grand Dominion Del Webb subdivision, a 700-home neighborhood near the intersection of Townline Road and Route 176.
According to the National Weather Service, Mundelein’s new contractor will get plenty of work.
“We do believe this winter, even with the extremely warm start, we will see some considerably cold air coming in,” said Richard Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Chicago Forecast Office. “The patterns appear conducive for snow this winter, starting probably in the second half of December.”
The 19.8 inches of snowfall in last winter was the ninth time since 1884 that Chicago experienced fewer than 20 inches of snow, according to National Weather Service records.
Castro said the average winter snowfall is 36.7 inches, and last year’s warm temperatures came after four consecutive years of 50-plus inches of snow – the longest stretch of “elevated snowfall” ever recorded.
The last sub-20-inch winter snowfall was in 1948-49, when 14.3 inches accumulated. The lightest snowfall recorded was 8.8 inches in 1920-21.
Castro said the jet stream that usually dips from Canada into Wisconsin and Illinois flattened last year and remained north of the border.
“We believe that was an isolated incident,” Castro said. “We’re expect an average winter this season.”