Storm damage

A LARGE tree limb fell to the ground following a Thursday evening snow storm in the 2200 block of Walnut Boulevard in Ashtabula.

WARREN DILLAWAY / Star Beacon

Area residents, especially commuters, are taking a deep breath after a harrowing Thursday afternoon that left frustrated people throughout northeastern Ohio.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was swamped with calls on Thursday afternoon and early evening as motorists tried to make it through the first snow storm of the year. Several area motorists said they were stuck in traffic on Interstate 90 for hours.

Dan Loose of Ashtabula Township said he left work in suburban Cleveland at 5:15 p.m. for a normal 50 minute commute, but he didn’t get home until after 10 p.m.

Area law enforcement officials did not report any crashes with severe injuries but several victims were transported to area hospitals.

North Kingsville Fire Department Chief Kevin Hubbard reported a crash on Route 20 near the intersection of Fairview late Thursday afternoon that led to water loss for a portion of the village. Village officials said the water was back on by Friday morning and it was unclear how long service was disrupted.

At about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, a school bus left Route 193 and ended up partially in a ditch, but nobody was injured, said Tom Diringer, superintendent of the Buckeye Area Local School district.

“We had a bus slip off and go part way into a ditch,” he said.

Diringer said there was not citation’s given but there was possible damage to the bus during removal. He said there were about 15 high school students on the bus and they were picked up by another bus.

Diringer said the storm came at a terrible time. He said between 1:30 and 2 p.m. plans for several afterschool programs were still in place until the weather deteriorated.

Sending children home from school early is also not a good option because often there is no place for the children to go.

“You can no longer truly early release unless there is a truly life threatening emergency,” Diringer said of changed work patterns for single and two parent families.

Ashtabula County Engineer Tim Martin said Friday afternoon that crews had been out across the county and there were no trouble spots where roads had not been plowed. Because the snow let up Thursday evening, crews were able to get out and get the salt down without much problem.

However, more snow is likely on the way early next week.

Karen Clark, meterologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said two to four inches was possible overnight Friday into this morning. There is a chance for light snow showers Sunday but no additional accumulation was expected.

But by Monday, she said there is a 50 percent chance of snow and on Tuesday an 80 percent chance of “significant accumulations.” Temperatures next week are also going to remain about 15 degrees below normal with highs in the mid-to-upper-20s rather than the average lower-50s.

Thursday’s storm, which dumped seven inches in parts of the county, was much heavier than expected. Clark said the forecast originally called for one to three inches because they expected it to move inland, but it stayed stationary over the lake and dumped snow at a rate of almost two inches per hour at some points.

Martin said crews would be montionring the roads and be ready if another round of snow hits the county over the weekend. The biggest thing, he said, is that county drivers “all need to reacclimate ourselves to driving in winter weather.”

Matt Hutton contributed to this article

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