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‘Mother Nature rules’

Sandusky Register Staff • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Perilous roads and sub-zero temperatures had local officials on high alert during the storm blanketing the area this week.

The storm generated almost 10 inches of snow and wielded gusts up to 34 mph, which kept road crews busy as they battled the elements to keep streets clear.

“Mother Nature rules in this type of situation” Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said. “Ultimately, it’s a losing battle”

Local officials feared these dangerous conditions would cause a spike in traffic accidents and cause a need for additional manpower, he said.

Despite the severity of the storm, there were fewer traffic accidents because of a decrease of motorists and a Level 2 winter road advisory that warned of snow drifts and treacherous conditions.

“It’s difficult to stay ahead of snow drifts because road crews have their limits too,” Sigsworth said. “It helps when people stay inside with these types of dangerous conditions”

More than 10 state-employed snow plows needed a series of 12-hour shifts to clear the roads and apply almost 500 tons of salt throughout the area, said Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tina Perkins.

The plows will continue this schedule throughout the weekend as another storm is expected to cover the area on Sunday, Perkins said.

This continued snowfall could pose significant problems for local emergency personnel, as clear streets are vital when responding in a critical situation, Sigsworth said.

“Snow accumulation can make streets difficult to navigate,” Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci said. “We’ll try to use additional personnel, but we still have to go slow and be extra careful”

Colder temperatures and slick streets greatly factor into more people, on average, falling, having asthma attacks and sustaining injuries or damages from car crashes.

When roads and driveways are covered in snow and ice, it can turn an otherwise low-risk situation into a life-threatening event, he said.

For instance, if snowfall accumulates faster than plows can clear the streets, driveways and address signs might be covered. This could delay emergency responders and waste precious minutes as they attempt to help a resident in need, Sigsworth said.

To help prevent this, area officials urged residents to clear their driveways and numerical address signs of snow and make them as visible as possible.

“Get reflective mailbox signs and keep your driveways open” Sigsworth said. “When visibility is limited, those strageties can help us find a house with a resident in need”

As if these conditions weren’t enough, sub-zero temperatures typically accompanying snow storms can freeze water in fire truck hose lines and have a negative effect on patients with breathing conditions.

“We do our best to reach patients as fast as possible no matter what the weather is doing” Ricci said.

While law enforcement and rescue squads are known for their fast response time, emergency personnel will always be cautious when traveling icy roads, he said.

“We can’t drive faster than anyone else on the bad roads, so our response time is cut,” Sigsworth said. “We have to drive for the conditions”

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