As the central character of winter 2013-14, set in the wintry wastelands of northern Ohio, the Old Man isn’t just a frigid codger who can freeze you in your tracks with his icy glare.
No, this guy’s got multiple personalities — he’s bitter and nasty on Monday, he’ll warm up to you today, then drown you in grief by Friday.
That is, in fact, the unofficial forecast for this week.
Milan Township fire Chief Brian Rospert summed it up nicely: “You go from snow to flooding in two days. Only in Ohio” And only in Franklin Flats, where flooding is near-certain later this week.
As a snow plow driver for Milan village, Rospert started clearing the roads at about 7:30 p.m. Monday, and he didn’t end his shift until late Tuesday morning.
“It was 1:30 in the morning, and I had never seen it blowing and snowing so hard,” he said. “I bet it was snowing at least an inch to an inch and a half per hour. We had two trucks out all night long”
The late-Monday, early-Tuesday snowstorm dumped a few inches of snow on much of the Erie County area, although Berlin Township led the way with about 6 inches.
That wasn’t the worst of it. High winds kept pushing heaps of snow onto roads, making it near impossible for road crews to keep up.
“Visibility was 400 to 500 feet,” said Frank Kieltyka, of the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth issued a Level 1 winter advisory Monday evening, then raised it to Level 2 a short while later. By 2 a.m. he upped it to Level 3 — a total ban on driving — given reports from his deputies and county road crews.
“The roads were impassable,” Sigsworth said. “(Road crews) said it was very, very bad drifting. They couldn’t keep up with the heavy snowfall and heavy winds. At that point, we were starting to see cars stuck and we were even having difficulty getting to them”
It was a similar story elsewhere in the region. Dispatchers at area departments said their officers handled the expected surge of calls about vehicles spun out. On Ohio 4, a tractor-trailer went off the road and tipped, and it was still there late Tuesday.
Ottawa County Sheriff’s dispatchers issued a Level 1 at about 8 p.m. Monday, then upped it to Level 3 at about 3 a.m. Tuesday. By the time the advisory was lifted at about 10:30 a.m., the county had emerged with no major crashes, dispatchers said.
In Huron, police Chief Bob Lippert said his officers handled two snowrelated crashes in town. Rospert’s crews also responded to a threevehicle crash on U.S. 250 in Milan, with the victims reporting no serious injuries.
Emergency crews will spend much of today enjoying a breather, because just like a good horror novel, more trouble is around the corner.
The forecast calls for a warmup today, Kieltyka said, with temperatures in the 30s to 40s. It could drop back down to the 20sby late tonight, then by Thursday morning the area will start to see some rainfall and warmer temps.
About then, Old Man Winter will do his best impression of Sybil. He’ll ditch the ice and snow, opting for a warmish climate complimented by about an inch of rain. By Thursday evening, severe thunderstorms are possible, Kieltyka said
Translation: Flood watch.
Rospert and Sigsworth said their crews will monitor the Huron River throughout the week, with a close eye on the ever-flooding Franklin Flats area.
“The residents down there are well acclimated to this” Sigsworth said.