By Will Sanders
January 5, 2014
WILL E SANDERS
MIAMI COUNTY — An arctic blast and snowfall, icy road conditions, drifting and blowing snow, and sub-zero temperatures that rendered road salt useless caused a variety of problems Monday, but the lingering effects of the so-called polar vortex are starting to vanish as Miami County begins the slow thawing process.
The arctic combination of every terrible aspect of an Ohio winter practically brought residents to a halt as the deep freeze conditions also resulted a Level 1 snow emergency being declared by Miami County Sheriff Charles Cox, who only rarely issues such declarations.
Icy road conditions and blowing and drifting snow, especially in the more rural areas of the county, were cited as the reason.
“All roadways are ice-covered and rural roadways are having some drifting of snow,” said Dave Duchak, chief deputy of the sheriff’s office. “Motorists are urged to drive cautiously and give themselves plenty of time to arrive at their destinations.”
The county’s snow plow fleet of 15 ran around the clock since the end of the weekend hoping to combat the severe winter weather, but Britt Havenar, the county’s chief deputy engineer, said until the mercury rises, road salt will do little to nothing for the icy road conditions.
“The salt is not doing much when it is this cold,” Havenar said. “We don’t anticipate the roads getting better until the temperature warms up a bit.”
Havenar added another issue is the continual winds that keep blowing snow back onto roadways that have already been plowed.
County snow plows and sheriff’s cruisers are all up and running good, though in many cases plow drivers and deputies are taking precautions to avoid common winter weather problems, such as frozen fuel lines.
Despite the dreadful road conditions, Duchak said only a minimal amount of traffic crashes or slide-offs were reported on Monday, none of them severe.
“I think the public is heeding all of the warnings from the weather reports and law enforcement is appreciative of that,” Duchak said. “We’ve had very few traffic events and that’s because people are heeding all of the warnings.”
The cold temperatures and wind chill also resulted in the Miami Valley Centre Mall remaining open Monday night and into Tuesday for those who needed relief from the cold, according to mall officials.
State officials urged Ohioans to take preventative actions against the extreme cold weather and stated that around the state several individuals sought medical attention for cold exposure, frostbite and hypothermia. In addition, countless falls were reported not only in the Miami Valley, but throughout the state.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency released the following tips for Ohioans who have to be or go outside during the cold: dress warmly and stay dry; wear a hat, scarf, and mittens; avoid frostbite; if you have to do heavy outdoor chores dress warmly and work slowly; avoid walking on ice or getting wet; avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible; and if you are stranded, it is safest to stay in your car.
The biggest risk for being out in such severe winter weather is frostbite and hypothermia.