By ERIC SCHAADT
A steady snowfall translated into treacherous road conditions Sunday in much of northwestern Ohio, authorities reported.
“Dangerously low” temperatures and wind chills were to follow the snowstorm, and were predicted to begin overnight and continue through Tuesday.
The snowstorm and expected frigid temperatures caused virtually all public and private schools in the region to cancel classes today. The University of Findlay also canceled today’s classes.
Putnam County, where 8 inches of snow fell, was under a Level 3 snow emergency on Sunday night, which bans travel unless absolutely necessary. Motorists could be cited.
Level 2 weather advisories were in effect for Hancock, Hardin and Henry counties. With Level 2, roadways are considered hazardous to travel and people should only travel if necessary.
“Rain is turning to ice and slush, especially on the back roads,” said a spokeswoman with the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office.
In Henry County, motorists were sliding into ditches, but no serious incidents were reported, according to that county’s sheriff’s office.
Seneca, Allen and Wood counties declared Level 1 weather alerts Sunday night. Level 1 warns travelers of snowy and icy roads.
The Findlay post of the State Highway Patrol reported “lots of slide-offs” but no serious accidents Sunday.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s website, 3 inches of snow fell Sunday in Hancock County, and 6 inches of snow was on the ground, including previous snowfalls. A larger snowfall, 4.5 inches, was measured Sunday at the Findlay Airport.
In Findlay, Safety-Service Director Paul Schmelzer said a half-dozen snowplows were working Sunday night.
A “heavy crew” shift with 15 to 19 plows will be on duty from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, Schmelzer said.
Employees from the Water Department and Engineering Department will assist with the plowing effort, the safety-service director said.
To help with the snow clearing, Schmelzer said residents should try to not park vehicles on roadways.
The Hancock County Engineer’s Office was planning to send its 16 plows out at 4 a.m. today to battle drifting roadways.
The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Findlay garage had 15 plows out Sunday in the county.
State highway garages in the region reported that no measurable snow fell Sunday in Wyandot County, and Seneca County had 0.8 inch of snow.
Three inches of snow fell in Hancock and Hardin counties. Allen County had 5 inches.
Wood County had 7 inches of snow, 8 inches fell in Putnam County, and 9 inches dropped in Henry County, which reported 15 inches of snow on the ground late Sunday.
As area residents and snowplow crews tackled the latest snowfall, a wave of bitterly cold weather was on the way.
The National Weather Service said a wind chill warning will be in effect from 4 a.m. today to 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Temperatures were expected to fall below zero overnight, reaching a low of minus 4 at Findlay, with a wind chill as low as minus 17.
Today’s high in Findlay is expected to be minus 3, with a predicted low of minus 16 tonight. Tuesday’s high is expected to be minus 1, with a low of minus 4 Tuesday night.
A “heat wave” will arrive Wednesday, when the high is expected to be 19 degrees and the low, 14 degrees.
Temperatures today and Tuesday will combine with gusty winds to create “dangerously low” wind chills, the weather service warned.
Winds were expected to pick up overnight, becoming northwest at 15 to 30 mph with gusts around 35 mph, the weather service said. West to southwest winds of 25 to 35 mph will continue into Tuesday, the weather service said.
The wind will cause blowing snow, reducing visibility for motorists, the weather service said.
The combination of wind and low temperatures will cause wind chill readings ranging from 20 degrees below zero to as low as 40 degrees below zero, especially this morning through Wednesday morning, the weather service said.
Officials at Findlay’s Water Department are suggesting people allow their water to drip or slowly trickle if they have experienced frozen water pipes in the past.
The weather service said motorists should use extreme caution if travel is unavoidable.
A wind chill warning is issued when a strong wind will combine with cold temperatures to create dangerously cold conditions for exposed skin. The wind will make it feel like it is 25 degrees below zero or colder.
Those planning to venture outdoors should use common sense and dress warmly, the weather service said.
Weather conditions are expected to cause many cancellations today.
Findlay Municipal Court is closed today. Anyone with a hearing should contact his attorney or the court’s offices to reschedule, officials said Sunday.
All Hancock County offices will also be closed today, with the exception of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and other emergency personnel.
Also canceled are all Hancock County Special Olympics events scheduled for today.
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