PARKERSBURG - Snow and ice made for a slippery commute Monday, closing schools throughout the state and prompting authorities to urge motorists to stay off the roads.
Several inches of snow fell overnight in the Mid-Ohio Valley, covering roads already slick from a mix of rain and sleet. Though emergency crews were kept busy Sunday with weather-related accidents, many fewer incidents occurred Monday morning as schools were canceled and many residents headed warnings to stay off of the roads.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin requested state employees delay reporting to work until 10:30 a.m., but later revised that time to noon. Those providing weather-related services were asked to report as normal.
A snow-covered Hemlock Street in Parkersburg Monday afternoon following Sunday evening’s storm. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Several area law enforcement agencies declared snow emergencies, asking motorists to remain home if possible.
In West Virginia, all but two school systems were marked as closed Monday on the West Virginia Department of Education's web site. Schools in Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wirt and Wood counties were closed with many school systems telling employees to stay home as well.
In Ohio, all Washington County schools were closed Monday, including Belpre and Marietta city schools.
Daytime classes were canceled at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Washington State Community College in Marietta. Marietta College operated on a two-hour delay.
Mike Fling said Wood County Schools called for schools to close on Code C, meaning only "essential" personnel were asked to report to work on Monday.
"We had some concerns about the road conditions, and decided it was best to keep most of the employees at home," he said. "Mainly we've had our maintenance department out cleaning parking lots today."
Fling said there were concerns over whether school would be in session today because of ice under the snow in the northern part of the county. Temperatures overnight were supposed to drop to about 1, which would refreeze much of the snow that melted during the day.
"The northern part of the county got it worse than the rest of the county," Fling said. "It's been brutal out there. A lot of places have a quarter inch of ice under that snow."
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said while the main streets in Parkersburg were clear Monday, there was concern of an overnight refreeze.
"Salt won't work at that temperature," Newell said.
The city also has had complaints on the condition of some of its main roads, such as Garfield and Murdoch avenues, which are state owned and maintained roads.
"We don't treat those roads. We can't afford to maintain state roads," Newell said. State crews "are stretched pretty far."
Newell said he expects this heavy winter to have an economic effect as well. The frequent and strong storms have damaged roads, taxed salt supplies and resulted in countless hours of overtime for street crews, snow removal and emergency response.
"We'll have to have budget revisions," Newell said. "Those line items are all overspent as we speak."
Newell said crews also had worked prior to the storm to fill potholes caused by ice and cold weather. Those temporary patches likely won't last through this snowfall, he said.
"When this starts melting this week, almost everything that was done will be gone," he said. "It'll have to be done again."
Salt supplies are holding steady, Newell said, even though the city has yet to receive about 400 tons of a 600-ton salt order. Newell said he believes what the city has in reserve will be sufficient to continue treating the roads, even if there is another storm next week.
"I think it's going to be one of those winters," he said. "We could see snow clear into April."