Dayton area digs out after this week’s winter storm

James Thomas shovels his car out of the snow Friday morning along Troy Street in Dayton.

caption arrowCaption
James Thomas shovels his car out of the snow Friday morning along Troy Street in Dayton.

As many local counties lift their snow emergencies, residents across the region are now digging out from the major winter storm that hit the area this week.

As of Saturday afternoon, these counties have canceled their emergencies as road conditions improved: Butler, Clark, Darke, Greene, Preble and Montgomery.

According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, total snow accumulations in Montgomery County varied around a half foot, with over 6 inches reported in Riverside and New Lebanon, and more than 7 inches reported in the area of Union. Almost 9 inches of snow accumulation was reported in Troy.

The storm was prefaced by a nearly full day of rain Wednesday, and Thursday included periods of sleet and wintery mix precipitation, allowing for icy roadway conditions.

Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner said road crews were called out around midnight Wednesday to begin working on the 310 centerline miles of roads it maintains in the county.

“It was pretty rough for our guys; they were certainly ready to go home yesterday,” Gruner said.

Normally a 16-hour limit exists for crews to work before taking a rest period, he said, but crews opted to work 19 hours straight, with just brief breaks for food, before then taking the four-hour rest period and returning again to work.

“It was a pretty rough storm, especially with the ice when it started,” he said. “We got ahead of it a little bit, but it caught up with us.”

A couple of plow trucks slid off-road into ditches, Gruner said, but they were retrieved via tow trucks and without any injuries to crews.

“That’s not too unusual for a storm like that,” he said. “Our roads are so narrow, it gets to be difficult to see the edge of the road.”

Ohio Department of Transportation crews were working 12-hour shifts throughout the winter storm to keep highways as clear as possible, according to ODOT District 7 spokesperson Tiffany Oliphant.

Oliphant said ODOT was unable to treat the roads effectively during the initial periods of freezing rain, but were able to do so once the snow began. However, the snow brought with it its own issues for crews.

“The snow was falling faster than we could get ahead of it,” she said.

As of Saturday, Oliphant said road conditions had greatly improved.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Clayton Post, the unit responded to 11 crashes in Greene County from Thursday through Saturday morning, along with two in Preble County, and 20 in Montgomery County.

OSP also responded to “dozens and dozens” of slide-off crashes with no damage during that time period, the Clayton Post reported.

Residents in the region were largely homebound for the past three days, a welcomed reprieve for some.

Chuck Kell of Vandalia said he was able to plan ahead and took Thursday and Friday off from work.

“(I) spent the time deep cleaning and binge watching series shows on Netflix,” he said.

Emmalee McCormick, employee at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, said she worked Wednesday and Thursday, helping to set up the “Snow Valley Inn.”

“(It’s) a previously closed unit (where) they allowed employees to stay the night,” she said. “That ended up filling up quickly.”

McCormick said she ended up staying in a hotel room near the hospital and drove home to Vandalia on Friday once the roads were more clear.

Brittney Mitchell said her family worked and did schooling from their home in Vandalia during the storm.

“My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to telework. One child had school remotely Thursday and Friday,” she said. “We weren’t snowed in because we have machinery that can plow us out, but we prepared to not leave the house for a couple days.”

About the Author