A winter storm made conditions treacherous, which may have brought out the worst in driving conditions and the best in road crews.
“We went on 12-hour shifts starting at midnight last (Wednesday) night in preparation for the storm,” said Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for District 9 of the Ohio Department of Transportation. “In some areas we started seeing this coming to the area shortly after midnight. We already had our crews in the garage, which is good news. We were out hitting all of the roads.”
Fuller said the snow started hitting Brown and Adams counties about midnight and began making its way through to the remainder of the region, and crews began fighting the accumulation.
“We have been seeing a lot of accumulation in the lower belt of our district, which would be Brown, Adams, Scioto, on over to Lawrence County,” Fuller said. “But we’ve also had a pretty thick band that started off in Highland County. So by 6 o’clock this morning we were looking at three to four inches in a lot of the areas of our district.”
Scioto County Emergency Management Agency Director Kim Carver said, depending on the location, Scioto County had three to five inches of snow on the ground about 10 a.m., but more snow was continuing to fall.
True to Carver’s Wednesday prediction, most of the ice that accompanied the winter storm stayed north of the Ohio River.
“You don’t have to go too far down into Kentucky to see where that line of pink (on the weather map) is,” Carver said. “There was a very sharp northern border on that ice ridge that moved through with this storm system. So it stayed just south of the Ohio River, and that was a break for us.”
In the city of Portsmouth, crews concentrated on the main routes including what is referred to as the “emergency” or “ambulance” routes — Kinney’s Lane over to Grandview Avenue — Grandview Avenue up from Robinson Avenue — to Southern Ohio Medical Center.
“They had to put plows on all the trucks this morning, which kind of put them behind a little bit,” Bill Beaumont, City Service Director, said. “They got the salt put down, but the way the snow was coming down there until noon, the salt wasn’t doing any good because all the snow was on it.”
By afternoon city crews, which Beaumont said had been working since 4 a.m., were working on the side streets in Sciotoville and the hill streets in Portsmouth.
On the Kentucky side of the river, crews were plowing or treating roads in all areas except the Jackson Purchase and the greater Bowling Green area. Interstate highway systems were mostly clear. I-645 in Boyd, Carter, Rowan and Bath counties reported roads were snow-covered, and many secondary roads remained treacherous.
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman said his crews alternated between plowing and putting down treatment as they tried to stay a step ahead of the accumulation.
Carver and Opperman both said there were no reports of power outages in the county.
Fuller said there are two ODOT slogans people need to remember this time of year — “Ice and Snow ... Take it Slow,” and “Don’t Crowd the Plow.”
“If motorists slow down they should be able to get places safely,” Fuller said. “But that’s the key. They should slow down and be alert. Our plow truck drivers need a wide berth to work. Their visibility is reduced significantly when they are in those trucks.”
Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini and Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless issued level-two snow emergencies by mid-morning Thursday, while Pike County Sheriff Richard Henderson kept that county on a level-one status. Later in the day Donini put Scioto County back to a level-one.
Meteorologist Marina Jurica of WSAZ TV said there might be another storm coming into Scioto County this weekend.
“That would be on Sunday night into Monday,” Jurica said. “Right now, obviously our radars aren’t even looking at that because of the mess today. But I know that when I looked at the models earlier this morning, it looked like Sunday into Monday there could be more snow. But Saturday looks good. Saturday looks pretty clear across the region.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.