DARKE COUNTY — Now it finally feels like winter.
After enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures so far this season, snowfall mixed with windy conditions forced school closures and created difficult travel conditions in Darke County Tuesday morning.
The county saw snow accumulations ranging from 2 to 3 inches Tuesday, added to lighter amounts of snow that fell in the area over the weekend.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Darke County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 1 snow emergency, indicating roadways were hazardous with icy conditions and blowing and drifting snow. Motorists were urged to drive with caution.
All Darke County schools were closed due to the road conditions, including Ansonia, Arcanum-Butler, Bradford, Franklin Monroe, Greenville City, Greenville St. Mary’s Catholic School, Mississinawa Valley, Tri-Village and Versailles.
Darke County Highway Department Superintendent Shane Coby said the department’s 20-man-strong road crew had been up since 5 a.m. Tuesday, spreading an estimated 480 tons of road salt/grit mixture.
“We’re lucky right now,” he said. “The roads are clearing well so far and the temperature is staying up, letting the salt do its work.”
However, the primary concern for county road crews was the threat of windy conditions, causing drifting and reduced visibility on streets and roads.
“The battle is not the snow, it’s the wind behind it,” he said.
Coby said he expected the crews to apply an additional 240 tons of salt/grit on county roads before the end of the day.
WDTN Channel 2 Meteorologist Tara Hastings said wind gusts reached up to 40 miles per hour in parts of the area, with a high temperature of 28 degrees. Temperatures fell into the teens by mid-afternoon.
Tuesday night saw temperatures plummet to 5 degrees, with wind chills below zero.
Temperatures are predicted to remain chilly on Wednesday with a high of 21 degrees. However, Thursday will see a warming trend with a high of 39 degrees. Hastings says there will be a chance of rain showers on Friday.
AAA Roadside Rescue Team reported it had come to the aid of more than 700 stranded Miami Valley area motorists since midnight Monday. During wintery road conditions, AAA recommends drivers take the following precautions:
• Stay Out of the Pack: When driving on the highway, stay out of the pack. This is especially important when driving during times of heavy snow causing limited visibility. AAA Public Affairs Manager, Cindy Antrican, says “stay out of the pack, stay alert, look around and leave yourself an out. Your goal is to be proactive, rather than reactive.”
• Turn off cruise control: Avoid using cruise control when icy conditions are likely.
• Move Over: Remember the “Move Over” law when first responders or AAA Roadside Rescue Team members are assisting motorists along multi-lane roadways.
• See and be seen: Remove snow from hood, roof, truck, lights, windows and mirrors.
• Slow down and give yourself more room: Increase following distance to at least 10 seconds.
• Stay in your lane: Avoid changing lanes, especially if snow and ice are built up between lanes.
• Accelerate gently: If tires lose grip and start to spin, let off on the accelerator.
• Pay close attention on hills: When approaching a hill observe how other drivers are responding and keep far enough behind the vehicle ahead of you so that you will not have to slow down or stop. Once you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed as slowly as possible.
• Avoid slamming on the brakes: A skid can occur when you apply the brakes so hard that one or more wheels lock. Should a skid occur try to remain calm and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.
Erik Martin may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.