The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 17, 2013

Heavy snow forces some schools to close

Staff Writers

— Heavy snow all day Sunday and Monday morning made driving a chore and obliged four local school districts to cancel classes, according to reports.

Students in the Ashtabula, Buckeye, Conneaut and Geneva districts stayed home on Monday, officials said. Pupils were at their desks Monday in the Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley and Jefferson Area districts.

Nearly a foot of snow has been recorded over a three-day period at the Ashtabula-based weather station operated by Ron Coursen, an observer for the National Weather Service. Five inches arrived Saturday, three inches Sunday and another 3.8 inches on Monday, Coursen said. More than half of the total resulted from a storm that blew through the area over the weekend, while the balance was the usual lake effect snow, he said.

December 2013’s snow totals are quite a contrast to 2012, when the month’s first measurable snow didn’t arrive at the weather station until Christmas Day.

Greg Becker, a weather observer in Dorset Township, said he has recorded 11.5 inches of snow at his station so far in December. Thirteen inches was recorded in November, the most since the 26.5-inch total in 2008, he said.

The weather made travel tricky on many local highways. A lull in the weather on Monday allowed plow crews to gain ground, however.

“Everything is going good,” said Amir Garakouei, county highway department superintendent. “Some areas may still be a little slippery.”

The heaviest snowfall was found in the north and northeast portions of the county, he said.

Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere, in an email message, said he believed the city’s snowplows had the main streets in pretty good shape Monday morning.

 “It was tough to keep up with the bridges, hills and major intersections with the amounts that were falling, but the guys did a nice job,” he said in the statement. “We just started this morning working on the side streets. This is the most time consuming because of all the intersections.”

Timonere said city crews worked “almost non-stop since Saturday morning.”

Mary Jane Johnson of West 58th Street disagreed.

“It’s terrible; the streets are terrible,” she said. “I have a giant pothole right by my mailbox. It’s so big a snowplow got stuck in it.”

When informed of Johnson’s plight, Timonere said he would get the Public Works Department to check it out.

“I did not hear that a plow got stuck in it,” he said.

Power outages were not a problem in the region, according to FirstEnergy. Fewer than five outages were in play as of early Monday afternoon in Ashtabula County, while none were reported in neighboring Lake and Geauga counties, according to the utility’s website.

More snow, between two and four inches, is expected today, according to the NWS. Temperatures will begin to climb, however, with highs approaching the low 30s today and Wednesday and the low 40s on Thursday and Friday.