By PATRICK PFANNER
Stay off the roads.
That’s what Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth told residents following a frigid, arctic-like storm blanketing the area Sunday night and Monday morning.
“We want all non-essential travel to be limited in this weather,” Sigsworth said. “Once you’re home, stay home if possible.”
Temperatures reached a minus 5 degrees with a wind chill of minus 20 degrees Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
Additional snowfall and subzero temperatures forced officials in Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties to issue a Level 3 winter storm warning Monday morning.
The warning was set to continue through at least this morning, with overnight wind chill driving to minus 30 degrees. Tuesday’s high is forecast at 2 degrees, with the wind chill dipping to minus 24 degrees during the day with sunshine.
A Level 3 storm warning calls for roads to be cleared of all traffic except for emergency responders. Additionally, the warning is issued when roads are likely to be covered by snow drifts and layers of ice that make travel difficult for snow plows, Sigsworth said.
Motorists traveling during a Level 3 run the risk of receiving a ticket — or even getting arrested — for driving in dangerous conditions, according to Erie County’s website.
“The decision to go to a Level 3 is not taken lightly,” Sigsworth said. “We understand that this has a major impact on area businesses and their employees.”
Despite frigid atmospheres, Erie County had it easy compared to the rest of the country.
Forecasts show wind chill temperatures are supposed to drop as low as negative 35 degrees in Detroit and could reach negative 50 in Chicago and parts of Minnesota this week.
Those temperatures can cause plumbing systems to fail, said Paul Matthews, a Norwalk pipefitter said.
“The cold is a huge factor with plumbing,” Matthews said. “If the house drops below zero, your pipes could freeze.”
Matthews offered some quick tips for protecting your pipes including keep a water drip flowing, cover sources of cold drafts and turn the heat up.
Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.