50s coming; snow’s going

Monday’s blast of wintry weather that closed schools in Washington County and caused minor accidents will give way to sun and then high temperatures in the 50s by Friday.

Between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, the Ohio State Highway Patrol had investigated five crashes around the county and received multiple additional calls about people sliding into ditches, said Trooper Eric Knowlton.

“With all the rain we’ve had lately, it’s freezing and then the snow is coming down and some of that is melting and freezing,” said Knowlton.

All of the crashes the OSHP investigated Monday morning and afternoon were non-injury crashes and only one involved more than a single vehicle, he added.

“That one was out of Vincent and it was very minor. One car stopped to assist the other one and actually slid down the roadway and struck the first one,” he said.

In addition to the Vincent accident, there was a crash on Coffman Road in Warren Township, a crash in Lower Salem, one near Dart, and one near Macksburg, said Knowlton.

None of the crashes were on state routes. They all occurred on county or township roads, he added.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office had received several calls requesting salt trucks, said Sheriff Larry Mincks.

“The back roads particularly were really slippery,” he said.

The slick roads were somewhat of a surprise to road crews, said Washington County Highway Superintendent Calvin Becker.

“I didn’t think we were supposed to get any snow,” said Becker.

Becker called crews in early and they started tacking roads around 6 a.m., an hour earlier than usual.

“For the most part I think we got out fairly quickly,” he said.

A light dusting tends to be more slick than a four or five inch snow because it gets easily packed down into an icy state, added Becker.

All six public school districts, as well as the two county parochial schools, and the Washington County Career Center canceled Monday classes.

Usually the roads in the Belpre City School District are still passable following a light dusting of snow and Belpre rarely cancels classes, said superintendent Tony Dunn.

“Belpre is in school a lot when other schools systems are out,” he said.

However, the roads north of Ohio 7 were slick Monday morning and the district made a decision first to postpone classes and eventually to declare their first snow day of the school year, said Dunn.

“We went on a two-hour delay. That was decided based on reports from other district employees that the roads were kind of slick,” he said.

On potentially hazardous days, Dunn and district mechanic and bus drive Steve Snider each have a difficult route that the test, said Dunn.

“We went out and sure enough roads were treacherous north of (Ohio) 7,” he said.

The mass calling system was used to announce a two-hour delay around 6:30 a.m. and when roads were still slick and snowy shortly before 8 a.m., the school day was canceled, said Dunn.

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.

More light snowfall was predicted for Monday evening, said Joe Merchant, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

“There will be some chances of snow showers after midnight (Tuesday). Tuesday we’ don’t really have much in the way of snowfall predicted,” he said.

The weather will warm up toward the end of the week with temperatures around 50 degrees both Thursday and Friday.