Snow Days

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Close to 3,000 American Electric Power customers were without power, by 9 a.m. this morning, according to a power company spokesperson.

“In the Ironton area we are showing 2,650 customers without power,” Vikki Michalski of AEP said. “It started yesterday and we expect the outages number to increase as the ice continues.”

Road crews are out clearing downed trees from the ice storm that hit last night less than a day after the area was hit with a massive snow storm.

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Many of those trees have knocked out power lines leaving many in the county without heat and electricity.

“Road crews are out busy clearing and working on those tree issues,” said Mike Boster, Emergency Management director. “At this point, I don’t have an exact handle on utility lines. One EMS worker who lives in the Lake Forest area (on State Route 378) said there are several trees down there.”

However, the good news is that accident reports are negligible. In the past two days there have been only four fender benders reported to the Ohio Highway State Patrol, according to dispatcher Drew Fry

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office reports power lines blocking some roads, but no serious accidents.

“I think everyone has taken heed and is being fairly cautious about their driving,” Boster said. “A lot of the calls the 911 center is getting are power-related … transformers on fire and power lines down and trees down.”

As the snow turns to rain, the threat of flooding is imminent. Then if temperatures drop as predicted Wednesday, the wet roads will turn back to icy conditions.

“It will likely impact travel in a negative way,” Boster said.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless has declared a Level 2 snow emergency, meaning residents are urged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary, prompting all area schools to cancel classes for Wednesday.

“I went out and drove around the county earlier. The roads are in horrible shape,” Lawless said Tuesday night. “Around 3:30, U.S. 52 was still bad. At that point, ODOT had made at least one pass and were starting to put down salt. The secondary roads were not touched at all. The county is working on those as much as they can. All are compounding factors, so we did step it up to Level 2.”

Lawless is advising area residents to stay tuned to news media in case an emergency is issued, impacting travel.

The Ashland Town Center was one of several businesses that closed its doors early Tuesday.

All Lawrence County public and private schools have already cancelled classes for Wednesday.

Crews from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) continued their efforts to clear the roads. However, the department also wants to remind motorists of two key messages: “Ice and Snow…Take it Slow” and “Don’t Crowd the Plow.”

“Our drivers are working hard to clear the roads so they are safe and passable; however, motorists must remember to give the crews room to work and to share the road responsibly with others,” said District 9 Deputy Director James Brushart.

Throughout the evening, overnight and morning hours, crews have continued to treat and plow the state and federal highways. However, motorists are urged to practice safe driving winter skills, reminding them to proceed with caution and heed the following:

Speed and Distance – The faster you’re going, the longer it will take you to stop; excessive speed continues to be one of the leading factors for crashes in ice and snow.

Brake – Brake early, brake slowly and brake correctly; never slam on your brakes.

Vision – Be aware of what’s going on well ahead of you; actions by other drivers will alert you to problems more quickly.