A foot of snow likely for county

Published 11:20 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snowfall expected to run tonight until mid-Saturday

Lawrence County received a coat of snow Wednesday, but it was a minor dusting compared to what’s in the forecast for Friday.

About 1-2 inches fell, starting in the morning, leading to some early dismissals for area schools. Rock Hill, Dawson-Bryant and Symmes Valley students were sent home in the afternoon, as the snow accumulated.

Ironton schools started on a two-hour delay today as a result of Wednesdays’ weather, while several local school districts cancelled classes.

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The snow was enough to create hazardous road conditions, and Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless issued a Level 1 snow emergency on Wednesday, advising drivers to use caution on the highways. That advisory was lifted this morning.

But Wednesday’s weather was merely a warm-up for a larger snow event, as a major winter storm is set to hit the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic tonight.

Snowfall is set to begin around midnight, and continuing until the storm moves out of the region mid-Saturday, Andrew Beavers, with the National Weather Service in Charleston said.

Lawrence County is expected to get about 12 inches of accumulation, while areas to the east, such as Charleston, are expected to get up to 16 inches before the event is over, he said, but noted that forecast models have been fluid.

“Every time our new models come in, we’re upping the snow totals a bit,” he said.

He said the prospect of heavy snow seems a certainty.

“It’s not a question of ‘if’ now, but ‘how much?” he said.

Earlier models had lesser totals, assuming the chance of warm air to the south moving in and converting some of the snow to rain, but that air is now expected to stay to the south, Beavers said.

Temperatures are not expected to reach quite the level of bitter cold as the past few days, but will still be cold enough to impact the precipitation.

Temperatures tonight are expected to hit the mid 20s, with highs on Friday at 33 degrees, just around the freezing mark. Friday night’s low is expected in the 20s, Beavers said.

Due to the low temperatures, Beavers said the possibility of the snow being heavy and slushy is there, especially in the coalfields of West Virginia and Kentucky, making power outages from collapsing trees a concern.

All salt trucks were out Wednesday morning at both the county and state garages.

Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation District, said crews were watching the forecasts, both from the National Weather Service and their own internal models, in preparation for Friday’s event.

She said they were keeping on a close eye on developments and that crews would be ready to go when they were told.

Crews had spent Tuesday loading up trucks with material in preparation for Wednesday’s forecast of light snow, Fuller said. Because the roads were treated recently for the last round of winter conditions and salt residue remained, she said crews did not have to pre-treat them.

No major traffic accidents were reported in Lawrence County due to Wednesday’s snow, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate so far,” Sgt. Jeff Isgett said, noting that the few calls they had were for minor incidents.

South Point police reported an accident on Wednesday, in which a car had hit a tree on Solida Road, but described it as only a minor crash.

Local grocery stores have seen a surge in business the past few days, as customers stocked up on items they needed in anticipation of possible road closures and power outages this weekend.

Allison McGee, a spokesperson for Kroger’s Mid Atlantic division said the chain plans for storms several days in advance.

“Our technology allows us to identify items that could be in short supply,” she said in a statement. “Based on that information, store managers request in-demand items to be delivered before the storm. Following the storm, trucks return to the distribution center and immediately begin deliveries to restock the store.”

At Fairland West Elementary in Rome Township, vice principal Sandy Joseph had been taking morning calls from parents about Wednesday’s weather. She said she had spoken with the superintendent, who had checked roads, and the district wasn’t closing early for the day’s snow.

But she said they were keeping an eye on the forecast for Friday, and that it was the buzz of the school.

“Everyone’s been excited and talking about it,” she said.