Snow, cold bring closures, minor accidents

PARKERSBURG – The bulk of the snow has fallen, but the cold is sticking around.

Between 3 and 6 inches of snow fell on the Mid-Ohio Valley Tuesday, depending on where the measurements were taken, said Joe Merchant, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston. It made travel treacherous, closed schools and canceled many events.

Beginning Tuesday night, a low pressure front was expected to funnel cold, Arctic air into the northeastern portion of the U.S. from Canada, including the Marietta-Parkersburg area.

“The worst of the snow has moved through the area, and now what you have to worry about is the cold,” Merchant said. “As the Arctic air funnels toward the south we will see very cold, frigid temperatures.”

Temperatures were expected to drop to around 1 degree Tuesday, with today’s high forecast to hit 16 degrees with a wind chill of about 10 below zero.

“People need to be aware of how cold it is and be prepared with the proper clothing and gear,” Merchant said.

Tuesday’s slick conditions didn’t lead to any serious accidents early on Tuesday.

Wood County 911 Center supervisor William Riffle said there were crashes reported on main roads around the county but they were “all minor accidents, just from roads being slick.

“There (weren’t) any accidents involving injuries. Nobody’s been transported” by ambulance, he said Tuesday afternoon.

Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks issued a level 1 snow emergency Tuesday morning, warning people that there was ice and blowing and drifting snow on the roads. Mincks said multiple instances of vehicles sliding off the road were reported, but there were no serious injuries.

Only one crash the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Marietta post responded to Tuesday involved an injury, said Lt. Carlos Smith, post commander. Details weren’t immediately available Tuesday afternoon, but he said the injuries were not life-threatening.

Camden Clark Medical Center’s emergency department had no reports of weather-related incidents by Tuesday afternoon, said Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs for the hospital.

All 55 county school districts in West Virginia called off classes Tuesday. In Wood County, the decision was based not only on what was on the ground in the morning, but what was forecast for the rest of the day.

“The roads were bad this morning, but we also understood the bulk of the snowfall was to come … between the 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. window,” said Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of school services for Wood County Schools.

Schools in Washington County were also closed.

Belpre City Schools Superintendent Tony Dunn said that while the City of Belpre treats its roadways, township roads are the ones district decision-makers are most concerned about.

“The roads on the other side of Ohio 7 are the ones we have the most problems with and we have to watch the closest,” he said.

West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Washington State Community College closed Tuesday as well.

Belpre resident Josh Kidd took his daughters Keara, 7, and Jaelyn, 4, sledding on the hills at Depot Street Park Tuesday. It’s the family’s first winter in Belpre, but the park has become their go-to snow day destination.

“Every time,” Kidd said as they headed to their car for some hot chocolate before heading home to build a snow fort.

Some people who were out and about Tuesday were seeking supplies to help them deal with the snow and the cold.

Chris Johnson, manager of Lowe’s in Parkersburg, said snow shovels were fast movers. Plumbing was busy, too, as customers loaded up on pipe insulation and heat tape, he said.

Generators for emergency electrical power haven’t moved as fast as during the last storms, but the store was waiting on a shipment of rock salt to melt ice as the previous cold spells depleted the inventory, Johnson said.

“A lot of people are waiting on it,” he said.

The weather did little to hinder the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, as all three flights departed for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport by Tuesday afternoon, said manager Jeff McDougle.

“The flights were delayed by at least an hour each, but they all did leave, which is a lot better than expected,” he said.

McDougle pointed out that even during the heavy snowfall around 9 a.m. Tuesday, flights were still able to land and depart.

Every flight for more than two days was canceled during the first snowstorm of the year earlier in the month.

“The big difference between the two is that this time Cleveland was not impacted,” McDougle pointed out. “Last time, they had a lot more snow than we did and their conditions led to our not having flights.

“This time we got the brunt of the storm but were able to keep going,” he said.

According to dispatcher Kevin Burns, the Marietta Police Department responded to two accidents Tuesday morning and afternoon, but neither was serious.

Marietta Streets Superintendent Todd Stockel said the streets were being well treated.

“We’re working on getting things pushed back – it’s a wet snow,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re getting (the roads) salted and sanded…Everything seems to be going pretty well.”

Washington County Engineer Roger Wright said crews had been out working since the weekend’s minor snowfall.

“We’ve had some icy, slick spots and some call-ins,” he said. “We started early (Tuesday) morning, and we’ve been watching the weather.”

Wright said that though the weather is supposed to clear, treating the roads won’t stop.

“Our goal is to try to get the roads plowed and cleaned,” he said. “We’re concerned with the snow coming down and it getting cold. Hard-packed snow and ice is harder to remove. We’re working diligently to get as much snow removed as we can.”

Calvin Becker, highway superintendent for the Washington County Highway Department, said they used Tuesday afternoon to salt the roads and break up hard-packed snow.

“At this time, we’re trying to plow and salt as much as we can to get it plowed off of the road before the temperatures fall,” he said. “For the most part, I think we’re winning.”