Winter storm moves across Ohio

Strong winds and snowfall knocked out power to hundreds of Ohio homes and disrupted post-holiday travel Wednesday with parts of the state facing potential blizzard conditions.
Associated Press
Dec 26, 2012

Dozens of flights at airports from Dayton to Cleveland were canceled or delayed by midmorning, with more expected as some 900 flights nationwide were canceled. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport spokesman Todd Payne cautioned travelers to check with their airlines, with as much as 60 percent to 80 percent of the afternoon schedule uncertain because of worsening weather.

Early indications were that day-after-Christmas mall traffic would be down, too, with people holding off in the weather on returning that ugly sweater or other unwanted gifts.

"I can't feel my feet, and the ice is hurting when it hits my face," said Tracy Flint, a Columbus hair stylist, who was trudging across a shopping center parking lot to get to work. "But it could be worse."

The National Weather Service posted blizzard warnings for a swath of Ohio from the Indiana border stretching northeast to the Lake Erie region. After an unusually mild winter last year, the storm was a reminder of how the state can get pounded this time of year. Forecasters expected snow to pile up as much as 10 inches in the Dayton region and Cincinnati's northwest suburbs.

"This is a typical winter storm you would see most winters," said Myron Padgett, a forecaster in Wilmington, in southwest Ohio.

In Darke County, in western Ohio, the sheriff's office issued a Level 3 snow emergency, which bars all but emergency traffic. Authorities said blowing and drifting show cut visibility to near zero, and they were getting calls from motorists stranded in rural areas.

The AAA service reported its busiest Wednesday of the year in the Greater Cincinnati region, responding to more than 300 member calls for tows, jump starts and other help by early afternoon.

Sheriffs in several western Ohio counties issued road travel warnings, and authorities urged people to give trucks with salt and snow plows room to work on the highways. Several spots already had three to five inches by late morning. The snow was expected to end in the evening, with freezing temperatures remaining.

The state's largest military base, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, shut down operations because of the storm.

The Ohio Department of Transportation said it pretreated major highways in anticipation of ice and heavy snow. Traffic was slow, but moving, in most of the storm-hit areas.

Agencies in several counties, including Franklin and Cuyahoga, closed because of the weather. Clark County authorities in Springfield said road conditions were so hazardous that county transportation services would be provided only for essential medical needs, such as people getting dialysis treatments. The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition said a winter shelter would open Wednesday evening at a downtown church to make sure people had a warm place to sleep.

Not everyone was impressed.

"If this is the worst of it, that's OK," said Thadd Fiala, 38, walking his dog in downtown Cincnnati. "I grew up in Michigan. The worst Cincinnati could do would be a normal day there."

And in nearby Lawrenceburg, Ind., Chip Perfect of Perfect North expected the snowfall's aftermath to bring in more skiiers during the holiday period.

"For us, the timing's good," he said.