Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s district nine, told The Times-Gazette road crews would on the road starting 4 a.m. Saturday to insure public safety due to the winter storm warning that was issued for the area through Sunday morning.
“We’re looking at a forecast of heavy snow through Highland and Ross counties,” Fuller said, “but closer to the river, we may see a mix of precipitation that might include some freezing rain, so we might see lower accumulations along the river, which is in the southern part of our district.”
She said district nine encompasses an eight-county region that includes Highland, Ross, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Scioto, Adams and Brown counties, and that ODOT utilizes other forecasting tools when winter weather hits.
“While we do use the actual weather service, we have a forecast service we subscribe to called DTN,” she said. “Plus, we have sensors embedded in some of the highway pavement and weather monitoring systems mounted near major highways and interchanges to give us a better picture of what’s going on.”
Fuller added that road crews from the various garages, including Hillsboro, had pretreated roadways throughout the day on Friday in preparation for what could be the biggest winter storm since last March, with some of the highways getting a brine treatment to help keep the first flakes of snow from sticking.
Currently, she said the forecast calls for accumulations from four to six inches of snow in the northern and western part of the district’s eight-county region, and lesser snow accumulations to the south and east.
She didn’t want to make any predictions of her own, but did acknowledge that Highland County was in the four- to six-inch accumulation range, and that road and maintenance crews had spent the day Friday making sure trucks were mechanically sound and fully loaded.
“They’ll start patrolling the first thing Saturday morning,” she said. “They’ll treat and plow the roads as needed, and of course, hit the bridges early on to make sure nothing is sticking and freezing there.”
Crews will then roll into 12-hour shifts at noon Saturday and continue working through the duration of the storm, spreading salt and plowing roadways.
She said road crews would be in clean-up mode by Sunday afternoon, and advised motorists to use extreme caution if they have to be on the road over the weekend, suggesting they reduce their speeds, allow extra travel time and to be patient with other motorists and snow plow drivers trying to do their job.
An ODOT news release reminded motorists to exercise additional caution when traveling during inclement weather, advising drivers to maintain a safe following distance behind other vehicles and watching out for snowplow trucks, as they travel at speeds well below the posted limit and their visibility is restricted.
“Keep in mind everything doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt just because it snowed,” she said. “But if you don’t have to go anywhere, just stay home, watch the snow and enjoy a pretty winter’s day on Saturday.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.