Winter storm brings record cold, high winds, travel delays ahead of holiday

Temperatures are predicted to reach low double digits for Christmas Eve following Friday’s winter storm, which brought dangerously cold temperatures and wind chill.

The powerful winter storm broke a 50-year record Friday in the region when a temperature of minus 9 degrees was recorded at the Dayton International Airport, breaking the previous record low for this date of minus 8 in 1960, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

ExploreExtremely cold, blustery for Christmas holiday weekend

Strong wind gusts of up to 50 mph and Arctic wind chills throughout the day Friday made temperatures feel as frigid as minus 25 to minus 35. The NWS said that wind chills this low could cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes on exposed skin.

The NWS predicts a high near 11 degrees today, with wind chill values as low as minus 23. Winds, with gusts as high as 37 mph, could result in blowing snow, causing hazardous road conditions. It also could cause tree branches to fall and power lines to break.

Temperatures are estimated to drop to around 4 degrees Christmas Eve. The NWS predicts a sunny Christmas Day, with a high near 15 degrees and winds between 11 and 14 mph.

Crews are continuing efforts to keep streets clear of snow and ice, though strong winds blowing snow will reduce visibility, intensifying hazardous driving conditions Saturday.

“Things aren’t going to get much better until the wind dies down,” said Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner.

Montgomery County street crews are responsible for 320 miles of county roads, which translates to about 800 lane miles to keep clear.

Gruner, along with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the goal is to keep roads drivable, though not necessarily snow- and ice-free at all times.

“Our crews are trying to stay ahead of it as best they can, but wind is the biggest issue,” said ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning. “I’ve had multiple plow drivers tell me as soon as they push the snow off the roads, the wind is blowing it right back on.”

Kettering street crews worked overnight Thursday and into Friday to clear primary and secondary streets, according to the city’s Facebook page.

This comes during one of the biggest travel seasons of the year. The Dayton Daily News reported earlier this week that AAA estimates 112.7 million people will journey 50 miles or more away from home for the holiday season, which will be Dec. 23 to Jan. 2. That’s an increase of 3.6 million people over last year and is inching closer to pre-pandemic levels of travel.

Impacts of the storm also affected flight travel Friday. According to flight tracker web site, there were just shy of 11,300 total flight delays nationally at about 9:25 a.m. Friday, with total cancellations exceeding 5,850 flights.

Fifteen originating flights were canceled at Dayton International Airport Friday morning, the website indicated, with just one flight delayed. Fifteen flights amounted to 48% of the Dayton airport’s flights by origin at that time, the site said.

Just under 300 were without power in Montgomery County Friday afternoon, along with more than 500 in Miami, 230 in Preble and 130 in Darke counties, according to AES Ohio’s online outage map.

More than 3,500 AES Ohio customers were without power as of Friday afternoon. Duke Energy reported just under 5,000 Ohio customers without service around the same time.

According to AES Ohio, crews will respond to emergency situations first — including downed power lines, fires and services to hospitals, fire and police stations — before working to restore all other outages.

Warming centers open in the area

St. Vincent de Paul warming centers are open at 120 W. Apple St. in Dayton for women and families and at 1921 S. Gettysburg Ave. for men around the clock throughout the weekend.

The city of Fairborn has established warming stations within the lobby of the police department and all fire stations. These will remain open around the clock, according to Meghan Howard, communications manager.