PARKERSBURG- Snow throughout Thursday evening caused traffic accidents across the area.
From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., more than 45 accidents were reported over police and emergency radio frequencies. Vehicles were reported going off roadways, sliding into ditches and other vehicles, and rolling over. Vehicles were reported stuck in various locations.
At 4:45 p.m., Parkersburg Public Works Director Rick Lemley said they had their full road crews out working on roads.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Snow falls on the holiday decorations adorning the iron in front of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Parkersburg Thursday afternoon.
"We are trying to get ahead of it before it freezes," he said at the time.
Throughout the evening, accidents occurred along Fifth Street, Dudley Avenue, Quincy Hill, Core Road, Rosemar Road and elsewhere in Parkersburg; along Grand Central Avenue in Vienna; the Williamstown Bridge; along Interstate 77 and U.S. 50; as well as accidents around Mineral Wells, Rockport and Davisville.
"The ice kind of crept up on us," Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin said. "We knew it was coming, but everything froze all at once and the amount of wrecks caught us off guard."
A salt truck treating roads went off the road on Deerwalk Highway and had to be pulled out by four-wheel-drive vehicles, reports indicated. At another time, a vehicle, with a woman and her children inside, slid off Little Stillwell Road, went over an embankment and hit a tree.
Fifteen cars were reported stuck on Walker Road with emergency crews saying only four-wheel-drive vehicles could access the location.
A radio report from the Wood County Sheriff's Department at one point said, "They're dropping all over the place."
At 5:50 p.m., the Wood County 911 Center reported there were no more wreckers available to help motorists as all of them were responding to emergencies.
A Level 2 snow emergency was issued in Washington County at around 5 p.m. by Sheriff Larry Mincks, meaning roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways.
The area was under a winter weather advisory all day Thursday until 1 a.m. today with snow falling throughout Thursday afternoon.
"You are all seeing snow now (at 3 p.m. Thursday)," said Liz Sommerville, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston. "You all will stay in snow throughout the night (Thursday night/Friday morning).
"It should be out of the area by 7 a.m. (today)."
Sommerville said the Mid-Ohio Valley could see a snow accumulation of between 1 and 4 inches.
The snow is part of Arctic air being brought in from the north due to a low pressure system.
"That system is dragging cold air down from the Arctic," Sommerville said of temperatures that were in the single digits to the low teens.
Belpre Safety-Service Director Dave Ferguson said the city is prepared for whatever this storm brings to the area.
"Snow and ice-covered roads are something we have learned to deal with," he said. "We are as prepared as we can be; trucks are ready to go with salt and cinders to make the roadways as safe as possible."
Along with having the city trucks ready to spread the substances, the city has a large amount of salt and cinders in storage with more on the way, Ferguson said.
"I just signed a purchase order for more so we won't run out," Ferguson said. "We are prepared and ready for anything nature decides to give us now or later."
Although the snow did not start falling in the area until late Thursday morning, all flights between the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport have been canceled since Wednesday evening, said airport manager Terry Moore.
"All flights have been canceled because of the weather in Cleveland," said manager Jeff McDougle. "These flights being lost have nothing to do with us; it is all Cleveland."
McDougle noted he is glad the bad weather occurred after the holidays, so it did not impact as many travelers.
Although the commercial flights have been canceled, McDougle said the maintenance and line operators at the airport are on standby to clear off the tarmac of snow to keep it clean for general aviators using the facility.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, Jackson County Schools, Pleasants County Schools, Ritchie County Schools, Tyler County Schools, Wirt County Schools and Wood County Schools in West Virginia and Belpre City Schools in Ohio were all on a two-hour delay for today. Warren Local Schools in Ohio is closed today.
(Staff writer Gretchen Richards contributed to this story.)