Area residents weather snow, slick conditions
PARKERSBURG – The Mid-Ohio Valley was ready for the winter weather that fell early Monday and brought slick roads and school closures, officials said.
“This morning the roads were pretty slick, but the street department had them salted and treated and in good shape by mid-morning,” said Belpre City Safety-Service Director Dave Ferguson. “We are pretty much prepared for whatever is sent our way.”
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said the city’s streets employees began work as soon as possible to lay salt and cinders on streets with hills and at intersections before major problems could arise.
“It was a little slippery in the morning and I don’t think people were expecting the snow,” Newell said. “But we have 300 miles of streets in the city and a method to get them salted and cleaned that seems to work well.”
Due to the slick road conditions, many school districts throughout the region delayed or canceled classes for the day.
“We don’t often cancel classes for snow, but the roads were a bit too slick to have buses running,” said Tony Dunn, superintendent of Belpre City Schools District. “But we will have school (today) because we have finals to get through and we need to be open.”
In West Virginia, Tyler County Schools was on a two-hour delay while both Doddridge and Pleasants county schools were closed due to snow and ice.
Wood County Schools did not call for a two-hour delay Monday morning, and officials said some parents were upset.
“We’ve had a lot of calls,” said Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of school services for Wood County Schools.
Fling said part of why the school system didn’t delay or cancel school was because of the timing of the snow.
“It came at a really bad time for us to make a decision,” he said. “We have to make that kind of decision by about 5:30 in the morning, otherwise the buses are already out on the roads. The bulk of the snow fell after 6 a.m.”
Fling said the issue was compounded by freezing rain which fell mainly in the northern part of Wood County shortly before the precipitation shifted to snow.
“I know we got a lot of calls from Williamstown and that area about slick roads,” he said.
Despite the slick conditions, Fling said there were no accidents involving county buses Monday morning, and only a few pickup routes were canceled due to back roads being hazardous.
Although buses were not involved in accidents, Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said his department received a large number of calls because of small car crashes.
“Our call volume increased a bit due to slippery roads,” Martin said. “We had seven or eight calls related to minor accidents because commuters heading to work were hitting slick patches and losing control of their vehicles.”
Both Ferguson and Newell said their cities are ready for whatever else Mother Nature has in store for this winter.
“This was not the first snow of the year and it certainly will not be the last,” Newell said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if its an inch of snow or a foot of snow, it takes the same amount of work to get the streets safe.”
Ferguson said Belpre has a good supply of both road salt and cinders for the season and the ability to procure more if necessary.
“I think we fared really well with this storm but it’s not even winter, yet,” Ferguson said. “We still have January, February and maybe March, so the better part of the winter to go, so we will see what we get.”
Newell added that Parkersburg’s salt dome is nearly full and about a dozen of the city’s vehicles have been equipped with snow gear.
“The snow has started earlier than usual this year, so we have no idea what we are in for, but we are as ready as we will ever be,” he said.
The Mid-Ohio Valley can expect some more precipitation today as rain is expected to begin this afternoon and turn to snow in the evening, said Liz Sommerville, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
“There may be a little accumulation of snow in the evening so it could get slippery on the roads,” Sommerville said.