It is mostly a courtesy to those living in and passing through Highland County, sheriff Donnie Barrera said, when he issues snow emergency warnings.
Barrera issued a Level 2 snow advisory Wednesday evening that was dropped to a Level 1 alert Thursday.
“People see it and hear it and if we have a Level 3 that helps them because sometimes they don’t have to drive to work,” Barrera said. “A lot of people making a long trip like it too, because that way they know what the levels are going to be as they go through county to county.”
The sheriff said he contacts local media outlets and posts the warnings on the sheriff’s office’s Facebook page whenever he decides to issue a warning.
Barrera said he listens to what the state and county highway departments are doing, listens to law enforcement radio traffic to see how many cars are sliding off the roads, or sometimes gets out to see visually what the conditions are, like was the case Wednesday evening, before issuing any level of warning.
He said he started issuing the warnings after he became sheriff in 2015.
“A lot of folks in the county asked me to do it,” Barrera said.
The most severe of the warnings is a Level 3. The sheriff said that in those instances, drivers can be cited if they are out for reasons other than an emergency, but that it is unlikely.
Barrera provided the following description of each of the three levels:
A snow alert is a Level 1 classification. A snow alert declaration by the county sheriff is designed to advise motorists of hazardous conditions created by ice, blowing and drifting snow. No roadways are closed, although unnecessary travel is discouraged, but if deemed necessary, extreme caution is urged. Generally, snow is accumulating on the roadway with dropping temperatures and may create dangerous road surfaces.
A snow advisory declaration is a Level 2 classification advising motorists that all or certain roadways in the county are hazardous with icy spots, blowing and drifting snow causing low visibility. Only persons who deem it necessary to travel should be on the roadways. The county sheriff urges extreme caution. Employees should contact their employer to determine if they should report to work.
A snow emergency is declared when ice, blowing and drifting snow has created excessively hazardous road conditions. Low visibility, extremely low temperatures, and worsening road conditions have caused the closing of all or certain county roadways to all but emergency and essential persons. No one should be on the roadways unless absolutely necessary. Employees should contact their employers to see if they should report to work. All non-emergency and non-essential personnel traveling the roadways during a Level 3 snow emergency may be subject to prosecution under Ohio Revised Code section 2917.13 for misconduct at an emergency.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.