Icy conditions lead to chaotic commute, school closings

Icy conditions caused this accident, one of many in the Dayton area on Monday, Jan. 8. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF

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Icy conditions caused this accident, one of many in the Dayton area on Monday, Jan. 8. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF

Temperatures finally climbed from below freezing and it looks like the Miami Valley will get a break from bone-chilling cold this week.

Elwell: Warmer temps this week bring thawing, threat of big storm

But the warmer temperatures on Monday brought a dangerous blanket of snow, sleet and ice— making the morning commute messy and dangerous. The wintry mix contributed to many accidents, delays and closings across the region.

This news organization counted more than 30 accidents before 10 a.m. Monday in the Dayton region, including one fatal.

A semi-truck driver died Monday morning following a rollover crash around 11 a.m. due to icy conditions on North Star Fort Loramie Road in Darke County, according to law enforcement officials on the scene.

Ohio State Highway Patrol recorded 20 total crashes in Montgomery and Preble counties, 12 in Xenia, 15 in Lebanon, seven in Wapakoneta and five in Piqua on Monday.

“There were so many (accidents) they lost track” in Springfield, according to Ohio State Patrol dispatchers.

Kara Hitchens, public affairs specialist for AAA, said from early Monday morning until about noon the auto club assisted 186 motorists in the Miami Valley.

“Since Dec. 26, when the cold snap started, we have had more than 8,000 motorists call AAA for help,” Hitchens said.

The icy conditions also kept tow truck drivers busy.

Aaron Schulte of Sandy’s Towing in Dayton told this news organization that he worked non-stop Monday.

“(We’ve been) extremely busy,” Schulte said of the messy roads. “Mostly slide-offs, nothing major.”

Ruptured water mains were another result of the cold weather. Water main breaks in Vandalia and Moraine sent water flooding into the streets Monday.

Crews worked to repair the pipes. Salt trucks responded to the Vandalia break to help with any potential freezing of the water.

All 78 public school districts in the area surrounding Dayton, from Darke County to Clinton County, were closed Monday. Most local private and charter schools and career tech centers were also closed.

For many schools, this weather system extended winter break. But a few weren’t scheduled to start until Tuesday anyway.

In the past, schools in Ohio were required to make up school days if they were closed for more than five. Now a school must be open for a minimum number of hours, rather than days, so most local schools can miss more than five days without having to schedule makeup days.

RELATED: Crews in two area communities work to repair water main breaks

What happened Monday isn’t likely to repeat, as Dayton and the surrounding areas thaw out this week.

Temperatures will continue to climb into the 40s and 50s, with an average temperature in the mid-30s for this week.

News Center 7 meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said that these temperatures are between 10 and 20 degrees above normal for this time of year.

There is a chance for spotty rain showers Wednesday and Thursday night.

But Friday and Saturday temperatures will fall off again.

Staff writers Jeremy P. Kelley and Gabrielle Enright contributed to this report.

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