- By Barrie Barber Staff Writer
A swirling winter storm packed a punch into early Saturday that dumped rain and then snow amid plunging temperatures that snarled Friday evening traffic commutes, temporarily shut highways because of accidents, and shuttered activities across the region into the weekend.
The region was forecast for another round of snow Monday during the morning drive, according to WHIO-TV meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.
“This will be a fluffier snow and easier to shovel,” she said. “Once this quick moving clipper passes, colder air builds in through mid-week.”
The storm, which had sustained winds of 25 miles per hour and gusts over 35 mph, dumped 2.7 inches of snow at Dayton International Airport. In Montgomery County, Miamisburg reported the highest total with 4.5 inches and Vandalia the lowest at 1.3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
In Oxford in Butler County, 2.5 inches were reported, in Xenia 4 inches fell, and in Beavercreek 3.6 inches, NWS reported. Springfield and Middletown reported about 3 inches.
Weekend high temperatures were forecast between the upper teens to lower 20s with single-digit temperatures and subzero wind chills into early Sunday.
With a biting wind chill, Colen Baker, 65, bundled up in Carhartts and a blue jean jacket to shovel off the block of sidewalk in front of the Talbott Tower in downtown Dayton at First and Ludlow on Saturday.
“It’s winter,” he said. “What can you say.”
Some schools closed Friday in anticipation of ice and snow-covered roads, numerous activities were canceled Saturday and thousands of employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the state’s largest single-site employer, were allowed to leave early to avoid the storm.
Baker was one of thousands of commuters who braved the “nasty” conditions on roadways, too, he said. Authorities declared Level 1 snow emergencies into Saturday for Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Champaign, Darke and Logan counties.
Road crews worked through Friday night and Saturday to clear snow covered and slushy or icy roads as motorists cautiously ventured out hours after the blustery storm blew through the region.
Dayton put 45 trucks on the road Saturday morning to clear residential streets, said Fred Stovall, the city’s public works director.
“We’ve been working around the clock since last night,” he said Saturday,
The Montgomery County Engineer’s office deployed 20 snow plows to handle the mess, said county engineer Paul Gruner.
“We’re probably going to have some trucks out through Sunday until the wind dies down,” he said.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. John Chesser of the Xenia post said troopers in Greene County handled triple the number of crashes they normally do.
“We handled our share of them last night and we had several slide-offs,” he said Saturday, urging motorists to be prepared for winter driving skills by driving slower in snowy conditions and carrying blankets and flares in a vehicle in case of an emergency.
Roads were passable Saturday, but drivers should drive below posted speeds where road conditions are impacted, he said.
“If you’ve got somewhere to go, you have to give yourself extra time,” he said.
Numerous slide-offs and crashes were reported throughout the Friday evening commute. The storm started in the morning as rain and transitioned by the afternoon to snow before reaching its height with strong winds and fast accumulating snow. Hundreds of customers across the region reported temporary power outages.
Ice accumulations were the highest in the western Miami Valley, Vrydaghs said. A quarter of an inch was recorded in Darke and Preble counties before changing to snow, according to Vrydaghs.
Dayton has consumed about 4,200 tons of road salt through Friday, more than the past two mild winters when 3,000 tons were used each year, figures show.
The city plows about 1,700 lane miles of roadway.
At the Montgomery County Engineer’s office, drivers plow 800 lane miles of roadways and used about 2,500 tons of salt so far, Gruner said Friday.
The transition from rain to snow Friday made pre-treatment difficult, he said.
“The difficult part was we were not able to do any pre-treating … before it froze because (the rain) would have washed away” the material, he said.
Dayton Power & Light Co. had 400 employees in place to handle the demands of the storm, said spokeswoman Mary Ann Kabel.
“We are fully staffed and keeping our contractors through the weekend so we are prepared as we go into this winter storm,” she said.
Dayton International Airport’s website showed several canceled flights Friday with one cancellation Saturday morning. Otherwise, flights appeared to be operating according to schedule.
“We’ve made certain that our equipment is ready for operation and we will continue to monitor the temperature of the pavement and make sure the runways are safe,” said spokeswoman Linda Hughes.