CENTRAL OHIO — The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning for Darke County and surrounding locations beginning 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2 and ending 7 a.m. Friday, Feb. 4.
Heavy mixed precipitation is expected with snow accumulations of six to 12 inches possible and ice accumulations of a tenth of an inch possible. Blowing snow and hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commutes as travel becomes difficult to impossible. Wind chills will likely fall to near or below zero degrees Friday.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is preparing for this major winter storm that is taking aim on Ohio.
“We are encouraging Ohioans to avoid any unnecessary trips during the storm to help give all of our road crews room to work,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “For those who must travel, please be safe and take it slow, giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.”
In central Ohio, crews expect freezing rain to be the biggest threat. Freezing rain is the most challenging of winter precipitation that ODOT deals with because crews cannot pre-treat roads ahead of the storm, and once the roads are treated, rain continuously washes the material away.
“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.”
ODOT’s goal is to have the average traffic speed on primary routes back to within 10 m.p.h. of the posted speed limit within 2 hours and secondary routes within 4 hours of the end of a storm. ODOT forces hit that goal 95 percent of the time last winter.
As a reminder, ODOT is responsible for plowing and treating more than 43,000 lane miles of state and U.S. routes outside of municipalities and all interstates except the Ohio Turnpike.
Drivers can find updated travel information, nearly 1,000 live traffic cameras, weather sensors, and more online at OHGO.com.
If you must drive during the storm, remember to follow winter driving safety tips like slowing down, allowing extra time for travel, and keeping emergency supplies in the vehicle, such as warm clothing and blankets, flashlight, food, water, and a well-charged mobile phone.
In Dayton, AES Ohio, the principal subsidiary of DPL Inc. (DPL), is also preparing for the possibility of severe weather with freezing rain anticipated to arrive later this week. Crews are ready to respond if power outages occur.
AES Ohio is urging its customers to plan ahead by creating emergency kits, discussing emergency/back up plans if they rely on electrically powered medical equipment, and knowing where their fuse boxes or circuit breakers are located.
Customers can report downed power lines and outages day or night online at aes-ohio.com/outages or by calling 877-4OUTAGE (877-468-8243). Customers can also stay updated on outages and restoration efforts by following AES Ohio on social media.
Additionally, AES Ohio reminds customers of these helpful winter preparedness tips:
Before the storm:
— Be sure to have your emergency storm kit readily available. Prepare your kit with an emergency radio (battery powered or solar charged), mobile device chargers, flashlights, first aid kit, non-perishable food items, water, batteries and other necessities.
— Develop an emergency plan that addresses any special medical needs or medications you or your family members have. Call your local emergency management office to discuss necessary arrangements.
— Be prepared. Bookmark the AES Ohio’s Outage Center on your mobile device for quick access to report outages and get updates on our outage map. If your power goes out, report your outage immediately. Don’t rely on your neighbors to report your outage.
If your power goes out:
— Turn off all appliances, including your furnace, space heaters, water heater and water pump. Leave on one lamp to know when power has been restored. That way, you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that may result when power is restored to all appliances at once.
— Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.
— Open your blinds during the day, cover windows with drapes at night and gather in a central room where there is an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace. Provide ample ventilation and ensure plenty of distance from your home when using portable generators.
— If the indoor temperature drops to 55°F or below, open your faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
— Remain patient. Every electric company, including AES Ohio, has a detailed plan for restoring electricity as quickly and safely as possible after a power outage. Typically, one of the first steps a company takes—to prevent injuries and fires—is to make sure that power is no longer flowing through downed lines. Restoration then proceeds based on established priorities.
For more winter savings tips and resources, visit aes-ohio.com/cold-weather-tips.