First major winter storm blasts area

By Belinda Paschal

December 6, 2013

Belinda M. Paschal

Staff Writer

MIAMI COUNTY — Local schoolchildren got a long weekend due to Friday’s snowfall, which made for hazardous driving and had road crews working diligently to reduce the chances of weather-related accidents.

“We’ve had crews working around the clock. With this particular storm, it was a little difficult to do pre-treatment because of the rain coming down because that washes a lot of the pre-treatment away,” said Mandi Dillon, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation-District 7, which serves nine counties including Miami.

By late afternoon, ODOT had 118 crews plowing and salting interstates, U.S. and state routes throughout the district. Sixteen of those crews were working in Miami County, Dillon said.

“With it coming down consistently, we were able to stay ahead of the storm, especially for the morning commute,” she added.

According to a press release from ODOT-District 7, crews will remain on duty in Miami, Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Montgomery and Shelby counties until the storm is over and the roads are clear.

The press release also stated that ODOT tools including traffic cameras, pavement sensors and forecasting models indicate the storm was at its height by late Friday afternoon.

This concurs with the National Weather Service’s forecast that though two to four inches of snow had already fallen, this area will receive less than half an inch of new snow overnight and about a tenth of an inch over the weekend.

Local authorities reported few weather-related accidents Friday afternoon, but cautioned drivers to be careful and take it slowly.

“We’ve handled one crash in Miami County,” said Lt. Rick Albers of the Ohio Highway Patrol Piqua Post.

That crash, which happened at exit 83 on Interstate 75, was between a commercial vehicle and a passenger car. Only minor injuries were reported, Albers said.

“Hopefully, the weather will stay the way it is right now, but if the heavier stuff comes, the main thing people need to do is allow extra time to get where they’re going, maintain a safe stopping distance between their vehicle and the traffic ahead,” he explained.

“As the temperature drops, people should pay close attention to the bridges and overpasses because most likely they’re going to freeze over first. If there’s moisture on the road, it’s important to drive to the conditions, which doesn’t mean driving the posted speed limit, but slower.”

Capt. Joe Long of the Troy Police Department reported no weather-related mishaps as of mid-afternoon Friday, but said if the snowfall continues, he anticipates more activity. “The first snow of the year is usually the worst for us,” he said. “If we get five to eight inches as predicted, I would expect a few more crashes than normal.

“People need to pay a bit more attention, slow down and not be in a hurry to get to their destinations.”