The winter storm dumped an average of 8 inches of snow on northern Ohio, said Brian Mitchell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland. Local conditions varied from area to area, with high winds, low visibility and drifting snow wreaking havoc on rural and city roads alike.
Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers in Erie and Huron counties said they handled no injury crashes during and after the storm. While there were no major accidents, plenty of drivers who ventured onto slick roadways slid into ditches or became wedged in snow drifts, and were forced to await law enforcement officials or tow trucks to dig them out.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 2 road advisory for the duration of the snowfall, warning residents of hazardous conditions and asking them to limit travel unless necessary. Even so, the sheriff’s office received several complaints Wednesday morning from residents asking why conditions didn’t warrant an upgrade to Level 3.
Employers often rely on those road advisories to determine if a worker should be penalized for missing work. Even adults appreciate a “snow day” once in awhile, but Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth explained the advisory levels aren’t meant to be used that way.
“I would encourage employers to consider taking a look at the levels and their terminology,” Sigsworth said. “Level 2 means hazardous road conditions. Level 3 is an absolute ban on travel due to dire conditions”
When officials make the call to implement a Level 3 — a travel ban.
“We had very good voluntary compliance,” Sigsworth said. “A lot of folks stayed off the road”
“We’ve been very fortunate — knock on wood — people are taking it slow,” said a Norwalk State Highway Patrol post dispatcher.
For those who did slide off roads, damage was, for the most part, limited.
“There was so much snow, it prevents damage,” said Lt. Anthony DeChoudens, of the Highway Patrol’s Sandusky post.
Nevertheless, DeChoudens reminded drivers to adjust their speeds for snowy conditions, keep a charged cell phone with them, and maintain windshield wiper fluid and proper tire pressure.
“The bottom line is it has been a long winter and we’ve still got a long time to go” Sigsworth said. “We’ve got to continue the best we can with what Mother Nature throws at us” — they must consider conditions countywide, Sigsworth said. Unplowed city streets shouldn’t impact drivers out in the townships, while drifting county roads shouldn’t impact drivers in the city.
“We want to assure people we use the best information we have at the time to make the best decision for the entire county” Sigsworth said.
Advisory level decisions are only made after conferring with the National Weather Service, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio State Highway Patrol, county and township plow drivers and officials in each local police department, Sigsworth said.
Neighboring counties also saw similar conditions Wednesday morning: Huron and Sandusky counties remained at Level 2 throughout the storm, but Ottawa County issued a travel ban around 8 a.m. when a burst of snow further complicated the morning commute.
Drivers took the advisories to heart.