The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 23, 2013

Winter expected to lessen its grip on Ashtabula County

Cold, snow creates a big driving problem in area

Star Beacon

— Persistent, wind-whipped snow that made driving a nightmare in northeast Ohio on Wednesday is expected to moderate Thursday, although subfreezing temperatures will remain into the weekend.

Blowing snow that glazed highways caused numerous accidents across the area, including crashes that temporarily closed a westbound section of Interstate 90 just inside Lake County near the Ashtabula County line early Wednesday afternoon. Vehicles came to a standstill on the freeway, causing a backup that forced safety forces to close westbound ramps at the Route 534 interchange. Freeway traffic between the counties was fully restored by late Wednesday afternoon.

I-90 near Route 44 in Concord Township was closed in both directions Wednesday, due to multiple accidents.

Plenty of vehicles slid off other roads and highways in the region, keeping law enforcement — and tow trucks — busy, authorities said.

Meanwhile, the cold and snow combined to give students in each of the county’s public school districts another break from the classroom for a second straight day. Districts that didn’t use a single calamity day during the entire 2011-2012 school year now have used two — in some locations, three — of the state-approved days because of weather events.

Ten inches of snow was on the ground at the Ashtabula weather station operated by Ron Coursen, a National Weather Service observer. Eleven inches had fallen at a similar station maintained by Greg Becker of Dorset Township.

Drifting snow continued to be a major headache on Wednesday. Roads unplugged by plows would clog back up a few hours later, thanks to gusts, officials said. A lake effect snow warning, originally set to expire on Wednesday, was extended into Thursday morning, according to the NWS.

Wind will continue to be a factor today, but gusts won’t be as strong and snowfall will be light, forecasters say. Temperatures could reach 18 degrees Thursday, although wind will create a 3-below zero effect. Additional snow could arrive in this morning, but totals shouldn’t measure more than an inch before giving way to partly cloudy skies.  Temperatures should inch a little higher on the weekend, reaching the low-to-mid 20s on Friday and Saturday and the high 20s on Sunday, according to the NWS.

No power outages were reported in the region by the Illuminating Co., according to the website of its parent company, FirstEnergy.