Miami Valley braces for winter storm

Don’t put away your snow boots just yet.

Another sloppy batch of winter weather will visit the region again today bringing significant snow, freezing rain and strong possibilities of closings and delays.

Today’s weather will be the latest in this season of heavy snowstorms and is expected to bring up to 7 inches of snow in some areas.

Forget about the nearly 50-degree temperatures that warmed up Saturday. Today, temperatures will linger in the 20s, eventually falling into the teens, said WHIO-TV meteorologists McCall Vrydaghs and Kirstie Zontini.

“We will start to see wintry precipitation … through the overnight Sunday from the north to the south,” Zontini said. “We will still see snow and occasionally sleet and possibly freezing rain work in mainly in our southern counties (today) before everyone sees snow.”

Sleet starts as snow, then partially melts before falling through a cooler layer of air and freezing into ice pellets before hitting the ground, according to Zontini. Freezing rain is rain that freezes on contact to objects like the road, signs or trees that are below freezing.

It will be breezy at times with wind gusts near 30 mph, according to Vrydaghs.

“Roads will be deteriorating throughout the day,” Vrydaghs said of today’s conditions. Icy roads are expected overnight into Monday.

Road conditions, especially on the highways, will definitely be the focus today and Monday. Many local communities are running out of salt.

Plus, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it expects to use twice as much road salt this season compared to an average winter season.

The department uses 630,000 tons of salt in an average winter and had nearly that much on hand in October, before what has been an unusually cold, snowy winter. The state has called in contracts with salt companies for an additional 510,000 tons and received permission from a legislative panel to buy 45,000 tons more, ODOT spokesman Steve Faulkner said. Not all of that salt has been received, preventing some local communities from getting more salt.

Zontini said that an area of high pressure originating from the north will move in tonight, ushering drier air into the region, but also setting the stage for another few days of temperatures staying much colder than normal.

Monday’s temperatures are expected drop down in the teens, with the high around 16 degrees.

In the meantime, several organizations are preparing for this latest winter storm.

The Greater Dayton Regional Transportation Authority issued a Level 1 Winter Weather Alert on Friday, warning riders to expect service delays today and Monday. This alert means that RTA will be calling in additional staff over the weekend to help assist customers and street operations to help alleviate delays and missed connections.

“Additional call center representatives will be available to assist customers needing information on their buses,” said Steve Vaught, lead supervisor for RTA. “We’ll also have more communication specialists to man the phones and radio to connect to bus operators and street operation supervisors.”

Vaught added that RTA will also use its contingency fleet during the storm because it’s difficult for Trolley buses to operate during heavy snowfall.

This report contains information from the Associated Press.

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