Blowing snow and record-breaking temperatures tested the mettle of drivers and residents as a Level 3 Snow Emergency was in force in Wood County for a second straight day.
|Drifting snow surrounds cars traveling on North Dixie Highway Monday in Perrysburg. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The air temperature was minus 15 in Bowling Green as of midnight, which breaks the record of 12 below zero set in 1924. Many city and village offices remained closed, and all county offices and departments were closed, with the exception of 24-hour facilities.
“We’re still at a Level 3,” said Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, who was driving and checking roadways this morning.
He indicated that while the winds had died down from their Monday velocities, many sections of State Routes 582 and 199 were drifting, causing only a single lane to be available, though crews were working to get them cleared.
Besides the drifting, he said that “a base of ice” was present on routes 582, 199, Sugar Ridge Road, and Roachton Road.
A sheriff’s office dispatcher said more than 20 slide-offs were reported in Wood County between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Wasylyshyn said he would consider downgrading the snow emergency to a Level 2 “depending on what the wind does and if the wind stays down.”
He said he would be consulting with Gary Britten, superintendent of the Wood County Highway Garage.
Wasylyshyn noted that, to his knowledge, there have not been any tickets issued to anyone for being out in the Level 3 condition.
“People have been very good, very compliant, people have been respectful of the Level 3,” he said. He did say that tickets may have been issued to those involved in crashes.
“I appreciate the cooperation of everyone,” said Wasylyshyn.
The Ohio Highway Patrol’s Bowling Green Post, according to one dispatcher, had a large number of slide-off incidents in the overnight hours, but an exact number was not available.
“They were very busy,” the dispatcher said, noting she was not aware of any injury crashes.
Maj. Tony Hetrick of the Bowling Green Police Division said that in the city it was “definitely a little bit touch-and-go, but the roads are passable.”
“It was almost like a ghost town here yesterday, and I’m sure it will (be) again, too.”
With the Level 3 snow emergency, he said “we had a couple people that have gotten stuck and they have been cited with failure to maintain reasonable control. Primarily because of the Level 3 we were citing people for that.”
“If they were able to get where they were going, we weren’t stopping people,” he added.
Theresa Pollick, spokesperson of ODOT District 2 in Bowling Green, said the roadways remained “pretty much the same as yesterday,” with snow packed on nearly all of the state and federal routes. While some roads were down to bare pavement in places, others had ice and packed snow.
Still others were suffering significant drifting – she said that Route 199 had drifts over three feet high.
The westward direction of the wind was affecting north-south roads, with Ohio 25’s southbound lanes especially being affected, said Pollick. A portion of U.S. 6 was also impacted by the conditions.
“If you’re driving you can expect to run into these conditions throughout the county,” she said, indicating that “we don’t expect improvement until we can get treatment on these roads,” which was not likely today.
While small power outages were reported in Lucas and Sandusky counties this morning, none were reported in Wood County as of 9 a.m.
Wood County Hospital reported treating few people impacted by the cold – there were no major incidents of hypothermia and frostbite or injuries from shoveling or falling on ice or snow, according to Kathy Evans, a nursing supervisor at the hospital.
“It’s amazing – I think people are heeding the warnings,” she said.
Brad Gilbert, director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency, agreed, noting that things were “unusually quiet” for such a severe storm, crediting the willingness of residents to “hunker down.”
Gilbert said his last update from the National Weather Service indicated that high winds won’t come down significantly until tonight, with warmer temperatures not reaching the region until tomorrow.
“Obviously yesterday was kind of the peak day for the winds,” he said.
Road conditions likely won’t improve for several days, as temperatures need to creep up before salt can effectively begin to cut through snow and ice.
“We’re playing the waiting game right now,” Gilbert said. “It’s going to be slow-going for several days until we get some warmer temperatures and get the roads straightened out.”
Jim Verbosky, fire chief of Rossford, said the northern end of the county remains in bad shape, with the worst conditions reserved for rural areas away from development.
“The roads are absolutely horrible still,” he said, noting that high drifts restricted travel in the lanes of some streets, such as Lime City Road.
“It’s going to take a few days once we get out of this really deep cold to break that.”Snowplow drivers have been working around the clock since the weekend, rescuing motorists who became stuck in snow or slipped into a ditch. Several companies indicated they were too busy doing so to comment on how much business they’ve seen lately.
Matt Hefflinger, a plow driver for Shipley Automotive in Bowling Green, said he’s taken nearly three dozen calls since Sunday.
“It’s basically a sheet of ice out there.”