The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 2, 2014

Ashtabula County braces for major storm

By STACY MILLBERG - smillberg@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— 2014 came in with a vengeance as the county braces itself for the first major snowstorm of the new year.

The area is under a winter storm advisory until 1 a.m. Friday, with upwards of 12 inches of snow expected from the storm, according to the National Weather Service.

Ashtabula County saw several inches of fresh snow by Wednesday morning, while snow tapered off throughout the rest of the day.

Despite the snow-covered roads and periods of heavy snow, the county saw very few crashes by Wednesday evening.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported five crashes, none of which were serious.

“They were mainly just cars off the road,” said Trooper Aaron Belcher.

OHP logged a total of 1,630 crashes in 2013, which is higher than the previous year, Belcher said.

The post also responded to 18 fatalities, resulting in 20 deaths in the county last year. Ten of those crashes were alcohol or drug related, with two still pending, he said.

A dispatcher with Ashtabula Police Department said APD had not responded to any crashes by Wednesday evening; however, Orwell Police Department was dispatched to two crashes, he said.

Conneaut Police Department also reported a quiet day with no crashes.

“Our public works has been taking care of our roads,” a dispatcher said. “They’ve been doing a good job.”

Geneva Police Department reported one or two minor crashes.

Geneva-on-the-Lake has issued a snow, parking ban until further notice. Any car found parked on a public street with more than 2 inches of snow on the ground may be towed at the owner’s expense.

The brunt of the storm was expected to hit overnight and throughout today as a low pressure system developing over the central plains moves across the Ohio Valley. Snow is expected to taper off from the west this afternoon; however, winds will shift to the north/northeast and increase in intensity, causing blowing and drifting snow, along with decreased visibility, according to NWS.

Total accumulations by early this afternoon are expected to be around 6 to 8 inches across a good portion of northern Ohio, with 10 to 12 inches or more expected in the snowbelt areas.

Winds are expected to reach 30 mph this morning and afternoon, with visibility as well as wind chills dropping below zero.

Additional lake-effect snow is expected later today.

The forecast is calling for a high near 23 degrees today with a lows plummeting into the single digits tonight at around 9 degrees. Wind chill values are expected to be as low as -4 degrees, according to NWS.

Friday, the county will see temperatures near 16 degrees with lows  around 8 degrees.

A warm-up is expected by the weekend with temperatures soaring into the low 30s both Saturday and Sunday. Lows will remain around 20 degrees over the weekend.