Ice, unforgiving wind expected for Clark County Christmas weekend

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Road crews “give up their holidays with their families so others can spend time with theirs,” ODOT spokeswoman says.

Bitter wind and cold are forecast throughout Clark County’s Christmas weekend, and as road crews around Springfield and Clark County worked to clear roads for those who must travel, city and county leaders urged those who can avoid travel to do so.

Across the area, a Wind Chill Warning was set to expire early this morning. Some snow fell Thursday night into Friday, but light snow is not expected to return until Monday.

Strong wind chills will make it feel as cold as -25 degrees to -35 degrees today. Wind gusts of 45 to 50 mph are possible. Gusty winds could also bring down tree branches, causing power outages, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

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Overnight lows on Friday were expected to be around zero degrees, but winds will continue to make it feel as cold as minus 30 degrees outside. Temperatures will rise a little more on Christmas Eve, to a high around 10 degrees, though gusty winds of over 30 mph will still make it feel like -10 degrees outside.

On Christmas Day, the NWS predicted mostly sunny skies, with light winds and highs in the low teens. By noon, wind chills could be back above 0.

Icy roads, wind complicate travel

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office monitored roads and conditions Friday and will continue to do so through the weekend. In Ohio, sheriff’s offices designate snow level emergencies in the county. They are the following:

Level 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads are also icy. Caution should be used when driving.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Level 2: Roadways are extremely hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those persons who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways. Your employer should be contacted to see if you should report to work.

Level 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency traffic. No one should be out driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. All people should contact their employer to see if they should report to work.

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A Level 2 snow emergency was declared in Clark County on Friday morning. Maj. Chris Clark said since 10 p.m. on Thursday, the sheriff’s office has responded to multiple car slide-offs and non-injury crashes, as well as crashes on Interstate 70 that resulted in injuries.

Strong winds throughout Friday decreased visibility on the roads as snow shifted. Clark urged people to stay home if possible. If they must travel, they should allot themselves more time to get to their destination, reduce their speeds, and mind other cars on the road.

Crews work through weekend to clear roads

Springfield road crews worked throughout the night Thursday and into Friday, with more work slated through Friday night, according to service department director Chris Moore.

Moore said streets running north and south were seeing more snow drifts than other streets due to the wind, but crews were plowing roads throughout the day and pavement was beginning to reappear on Friday afternoon.

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Crews are also expected to clear roads this weekend.

“We’ll reassess the situation in the morning to determine what is needed,” Moore said.

Outside of Springfield, roughly 250 snowplows throughout ODOT District 7 – which covers Clark and several other counties – are hitting the roads during this storm. In Clark County, 25 drivers will be clearing off roadways, ODOT District 7 public information officer Tiffany Oliphant said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“Those men and women give up their holidays with their families so others can spend time with theirs,” Oliphant said. “It’s what we do.”

ODOT is urging motorists to “manage their expectations” and to stay home if they can, Oliphant said.

“Roads will be snow-covered and hazardous at times, even with our crews out in full force, so plan ahead for travel to take much longer,” Oliphant said. “You will not be able to drive the speed limit during the storm. You will need to slow down. Please be patient with our crews and give us room to work.”

ODOT posts road conditions and weather forecasts on its website,

Staying safe at home or on the roads

As a result of the severe weather conditions, the Clark County Emergency Management Agency reminded residents to prepare themselves for a cold holiday weekend.

The agency offered a few tips earlier this week that residents can follow in order to stay safe during the inclement weather. That included the following.

  • Avoid travel if possible, and make sure to have an emergency supply kit with food, water and blankets in the car in case you have to be on the road
  • Dress for the outdoors. Be prepared to be outside, even if you don’t think you’ll be outside much.
  • If using portable generators, don’t use them inside your house, in your garage, or near doors, vents, windows or sleep areas
  • Charge your phone and other devices ahead of time in case of an outage

For those who do not have a place to stay or who are experiencing issues with power, the city of Springfield and area nonprofits have partnered to open an emergency warming shelter at Springfield’s Salvation Army, located at 15 S. Plum St.

The shelter will be open until this morning, but leaders of the city, Sheltered Inc. and the Nehemiah Foundation will reassess the situation and extend the shelter’s hours throughout the holiday weekend if needed.

“The Faith Community Crisis Response Team is ready to support neighbors in most need as we prepare for extreme weather conditions this week,” said Nehemiah Foundation executive director Amy Willmann in a press release.

5 tips for driving on icy roads

With icy roads expected, it’s important to drive with caution. Here are five tips from AAA for safe driving in winter weather:

1. Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. When icy roadways are involved, the best way to avoid an auto accident is not drive at all. If you must be out, take a winter driving kit, which should include items like bags of sat, a small snow shovel, traction mats, flashlight, gloves, ice scraper, paper towels, blanket and warning flares.

2. No cruise control. If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand). Always look and steer where you want to go, according to AAA.

3. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

4. To correct a skid on ice remove your foot from the accelerator, avoid slamming on the brakes but softly pump the brake pedal, and if your car is skidding in one direction, calmly steer to the opposite direction.

5. Don’t stop if you can avoid it. “There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it,” according to AAA.

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