ODOT preparing for winter storm; travel discouraged

The Ohio Department of Transportation is preparing for a winter storm expected to move into the state Wednesday, bringing a mixture of snow, ice and freezing rain with it.

With Southwest and West Central Ohio expected to get between 3 to 12 inches of snow and a tenth to half of an inch of ice throughout Wednesday evening and Thursday, officials are asking Ohioans to stay home.

“We are encouraging Ohioans to avoid any unnecessary trips during the storm to help give all of our road crews room to work,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “For those who must travel, please be safe and take it slow, giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.”

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Drivers should remember to give plows and ODOT crews room on the road.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the Miami Valley starting Wednesday evening and through Friday morning.

In central Ohio, the primary threat is freezing rain, which is the most challenging winter precipitation for road crews, according to ODOT. Crews cannot treat the roads ahead of the storm and once they are treated, rain washes the material away.

ODOT’s Southwest Ohio crews, which includes the Dayton area, is checking equipment ahead of the story to make sure they’re ready to go once the weather moves into the area. Crews will be using salt and working 12-hour shifts to try and keep up with the weather, with a focus on primary routes first, according to ODOT.

“During winter storms, ODOT strives to keep roads passable to help ensure that emergency services and essential workers can safely reach their destinations,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “But even with our crews out in full force, roads will likely be snow and ice-covered, and it will take much longer to travel. Once the storm moves out, our crews will be able to make progress toward getting traffic moving at regular speed.”

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Northern Ohio could get as much as a foot of snow, with high winds adding the risk of snow blowing and drifting. The southern portion of the state is expected to get heavy rains, which could result in flooding before conditions transition to freezing rain or snow. ODOT reminded motorists to never drive through high water or around barricades.

ODOT’s goal is to have the average traffic speed on primary routes within 10 miles per hour of the posted speed limit within two hours of the end of the storm and within four hours on secondary routes. Last winter, ODOT reached its goal 95% of the time.

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