Deep freeze continues in Highland County


The end of the holiday season and the beginning of 2018 were marked by frigid weather in Highland County and much of the country, with record-low temperatures sweeping across the U.S.

In Southern Ohio, the first day of the cold snap was Christmas, according to meteorologist Jim Lott of the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.

“We’ve pretty much been below freezing since then,” Lott told The Times-Gazette on Tuesday.

The temperature at the Wilmington office on Tuesday morning was 11 degrees Fahrenheit, Lott said, which was “the coldest we’ve been through this stretch.”

Wind chills around the region registered anywhere from minus 10 degrees to minus 25 in some areas, Lott said.

Monday night “shattered some records” in urban areas where records have been kept, according to Lott.

In Dayton, thermometers registered minus 13 degrees, breaking the city’s record low of minus 5 degrees, Lott said.

In Cincinnati, temperatures dipped to minus 7 degrees, breaking a record low of minus 3 degrees.

Lott said Highland County will likely stay below freezing until the weekend, and by Monday, temperatures should be in the low 40s.

As of Tuesday, the NWS forecast for Hillsboro showed low chances of precipitation here until the weekend, but Highland County Engineer Dean Otworth told The Times-Gazette that some patches of road may remain icy, especially in shaded areas.

“With the colder temperatures, there is a limit to the effectiveness of the salt and the material we’ve been applying,” Otworth said.

According to Otworth, county crews use a 50/50 mixture of salt and limestone grit. The salt melts snow and ice, and the grit provides traction, Otworth said.

“A lot of times, what will happen is the salt will melt down and drop through, and the ice re-forms over it, and it becomes very slick at that point,” he said. “With putting grit out there, it’ll give you some traction and make things a little safer for people to drive on.”

Otworth estimated about 3,000 tons of the mixture have been used from the county’s storage facility, and another 2,500-3,000 tons are left over.

Otworth said he expects the office will have to buy another 2,000 tons from the Ohio Department of Transportation before the season is over.

“I’m hoping things will start slowing up here,” he said. “The salt will keep, but we have to make sure we’re prepared for the worst and hope for the best.”

Otworth said motorists should drive slowly and allow extra time for travel.

“Give yourself plenty of time, plan ahead and pay attention to the weather forecast,” he said.

Until the thaw, Lott said, people should prepare before leaving the house for any reason.

“Dress appropriately and be prepared for cold weather,” Lott said. “Any kind of exposed skin can get frostbite in 10-15 minutes in these kinds of temperatures.”

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Foreman Mike Truman of the Highland County Engineer’s Office uses a frontloader Tuesday afternoon to scoop a mixture of salt and limestone grit at the county garage. Mike Truman of the Highland County Engineer’s Office uses a frontloader Tuesday afternoon to scoop a mixture of salt and limestone grit at the county garage. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Thaw expected this weekend; watch out for icy roads

By David Wright

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FULL REPORT: For a complete forecast and weather report for Highland County and surrounding areas, check out Page 5 in the daily print edition of The Times-Gazette.

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