Despite frigid temperatures and icy surfaces, there has not been a rash of wrecks or cold-related injuries in recent days locally.
Branden Jackman, public information officer for the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, said Friday that, “amazingly enough,” the department had not been inundated with issues related to the cold, snow or ice.
But Jackman was still bewildered by an initial plan by AEP to cut power to parts of Hillsboro on Friday to conduct maintenance. As reported in Friday’s Times-Gazette, AEP eventually decided to reschedule a maintenance project that would have shut down power Friday in parts of Hillsboro and Highland County for three hours,
After seeing a message on Paint Creek’s Facebook page about the planned outage, The Times-Gazette contacted AEP on Thursday afternoon, first leaving a message with AEP’s media office, then calling another general number.
A spokesperson confirmed that the planned maintenance was scheduled for parts of Hillsboro and Highland County on Friday and that power would be shut off for AEP customers from approximately 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. He said the outage could last longer, or not as long.
When The Times-Gazette asked if the scheduled maintenance was necessary considering that it was scheduled for the middle of the day and that the area was experiencing one of its coldest periods in recent months, the spokesperson put The Times-Gazette on hold while he tried to get a manager on the phone. The spokesperson came back on the line and said he had spoken to a manager and that the scheduled maintenance had been canceled.
A second spokesperson, this time from the media office, later returned The Times-Gazette’s call and verified that planned “equipment maintenance” had been scheduled, probably for AEP to do tree trimming or replace utility poles. But she said that “probably due to the cold weather,” the maintenance had just been canceled.
Jackman said Friday that the fire department had not been notified about the planned outage, something he said was surprising “when you’re talking about a possible power outage of that time frame.” He said he was particularly concerned about people on home-based oxygen systems that could have been interrupted, as well as the elderly experiencing long stretches with no heat.
Jackman said that when he called AEP on Thursday after seeing a social media post about the power blackout, he told a representative “we need specifics” about the outage.
The snow that fell this week across Highland County did not result in much accumulation, but roadways were frozen and slick in many places. Road crews from the state, county, townships and various municipalities were out in force.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, District 9, which includes Highland County, said in a press release that more than 100 crews were on the road Thursday night as the winter storm continued to make its way through the area.
Following the latest round of bitterly cold air through the weekend, which saw temperatures on Friday barely reach into the teens and a high of 19 predicted here for Saturday, 22 on Sunday, AccuWeather said milder air will surge into much of the Midwestern and eastern United States next week. By Tuesday, highs will be in the upper 40s, according to the forecast.
Afternoon high temperatures from St. Louis to New York City will jump around 30 degrees Fahrenheit from the weekend to the first half of next week, according to the forecast.
“The weather pattern is going to shift so that milder air from the eastern Pacific will flow into the central and eastern U.S. next week,” AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Doll said.
The arctic air has been spreading from west to east across the country throughout the week. The temperature dropped below freezing in 48 out of 50 states on Thursday morning, with the only exceptions being Louisiana and Florida, according to AccuWeather, adding that North Dakota and northern Minnesota have had some of the coldest weather, thanks in part to the 1-2 feet of snow that is on the ground. Bismarck, North Dakota, spent 67 straight hours at or below zero F from Tuesday morning through Thursday evening.