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Mid-Ohio Valley winter storm leaves auto accidents, accumulation in wake

Belpre resident Cooper Gilbert, 8, heads down the hill at Belpre Masonic Lodge 609 Friday as 9-year-old Austin Braden watches. Belpre schools were among many that closed Friday after heavy snowfall on Thursday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The snowstorm Thursday night and early Friday morning caused vehicle accidents and closed schools around the Mid-Ohio Valley, and left significant snowfall amounts in its wake.

One crash involved a salt truck from the West Virginia Division of Highways, which slid down an embankment in the area of Walker and Volcano roads in Walker and rolled over. No information about the driver and the extent of his injuries was immediately available.

However, Jared Evans, West Virginia Department of Transportation District 3 deputy engineer, said the driver “was asking someone for help” after the wreck.

He also said that salt trucks are very top-heavy and can cause a whiplash effect when the truck rolls over.

Wood County Sheriff Rick Woodyard said that there were 94 calls, 25 of which were traffic accidents, in the 24-hour period since the storm hit Thursday afternoon and that there were no reports of serious injuries.

Belpre resident Austin Braden, 9, drifts slowly down the hill at Belpre Masonic Lodge 609 Friday. Belpre schools were among many that closed Friday after heavy snowfall on Thursday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Washington County Sheriff Larry R. Mincks said that there were 12 covered by his department.

On Thursday evening, he raised the snow emergency to level 2, meaning roads are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow and people are advised to stay off the roads unless they absolutely have to drive. It returned to level 1, meaning roads are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow and ice, Friday morning.

According to Marietta Police dispatcher Kevin Burns, there were no accidents Friday, and the last crash they responded to was at 5:44 p.m. on Thursday.

The winter weather caused challenges around the Mid-Ohio Valley Thursday evening, with Roane County Emergency Management posting on its Facebook page at 7:19 p.m. that there had been at least 30 accidents since the snow started to fall.

“The roads are horrible. Stay home or stay put wherever you are,” the post said. “Our resources are stretched thin.”

Belpre residents Cooper Gilbert, left, and Austin Braden race back up the hill at Belpre Masonic Lodge 609, where they were sledding Friday afternoon. Belpre schools were among many that closed Friday after heavy snowfall on Thursday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

The sheriff’s department declared Calhoun County’s roads closed around 5 p.m. Thursday, said Julie Sears, director of 911 and emergency management for the county.

“That’s when it really was putting it down faster than they could keep up with it,” she said. “We had 18 vehicles in the ditch last night (at) the height of the storm coming in.”

Sears praised the efforts of West Virginia Division of Highways employees to keep roads cleared and said some service stations stayed open later so first responders could refuel.

“All three of our fire departments were out at some point in time pulling people out of ditches,” she said.

No serious injuries or damage was reported, Sears said.

Belpre resident Austin Braden, 9, heads down the hill at Belpre Masonic Lodge 609 Friday afternoon. Belpre schools were among many that closed Friday after heavy snowfall on Thursday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

The National Weather Service forecast for Parkersburg is sunny on Saturday, with a high temperature of 41 degrees.

Saturday night there’s a 90% chance of freezing rain switching over to rain with a low around 31 degrees, and a 90% chance of rain on Sunday, with a high of 44 degrees.

On Sunday night, the rain ends and the skies become partly cloudy, with a low of 19 degrees.

Staff reporter Evan Bevins contributed to this story.

Larry Launstein Jr. can be reached at llaunstein@newsandsentinel.com.

Belpre resident Cooper Gilbert, 8, lugs an inner tube up the hill at Belpre Masonic Lodge 609, where he was sledding with friends Friday afternoon. Belpre schools were among many that closed Friday after heavy snowfall on Thursday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

***

Mid-Ohio Valley Snowfall Totals

* Arnoldsburg — 6.5 inches

* Belpre — 3.6

* Marietta — 2

Belpre resident Parker Seebaugh, 7, wipes out on an inner tube at the hill behind Belpre Masonic Lodge 609 Friday. Belpre schools were among many that closed Friday after heavy snowfall on Thursday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

* Mineral Wells — 4.5

* Parkersburg — 2.9

* Ravenswood — 4

* Spencer — 7

* Williamstown — 2.5

Source: National Weather Service, Charleston.

Melissa Falls shared this picture of a snow-covered Liberty Hill (U.S. 33/West Virginia 119), where five vehicles were stranded at one point Thursday evening. (Photo Provided)

Melissa Falls shared this picture of a snow-covered Liberty Hill (U.S. 33/West Virginia 119), where five vehicles were stranded at one point Thursday evening. (Photo Provided)

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