By LOU WILIN
and ERIC SCHAADT
It’s slowly returning to normal.
You can be outside for more than a few minutes without fearing frostbite from the “polar vortex” that blew into the region Sunday.
After record low temperatures were recorded Monday and Tuesday, today’s high is forecast to be 19 degrees, and temperatures are predicted to reach the 40s this weekend.
Area roads are improving, police agencies report, thanks to less wind and blowing snow.
But many roads are icy, and most area schools remain closed today. Findlay and Hancock County snowplow crews will spread salt on the ice.
Hancock County road conditions improved Tuesday from a Level 3 weather emergency to a Level 2. Level 3 discourages travel by anyone other than emergency workers, while Level 2 discourages unnecessary travel.
Henry, Allen, Hardin, Putnam and Seneca counties also were under a Level 2 emergency on Tuesday night.
Wood County remained under a Level 3 on Tuesday night, but that was expected to be reduced this morning.
“Same as yesterday. Vehicles off the road. No serious injuries,” a spokeswoman with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office said of Tuesday’s road conditions.
Wyandot County was under a Level 1 weather alert Tuesday night, which signals hazardous travel conditions.
“With the wind dying down, it’s a lot better,” said a dispatcher with the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office.
On Interstate 75, ice remained on the passing lanes in spots, according to the Findlay post of the State Highway Patrol.
Findlay and most schools in the region will remain closed today, although a few districts hoped to reopen after two-hour delays this morning.
Schools closed today, for the third straight day, include Arcadia, Arlington, Blanchard Valley School, Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Cory-Rawson, Elmwood, Findlay, Fostoria, Hopewell-Loudon, Kalida, Leipsic, Liberty-Benton, McComb, Mohawk, Ottawa-Glandorf, Pandora-Gilboa, Patrick Henry, St. Michael in Findlay, St. Wendelin, Van Buren and Upper Sandusky.
Findlay Superintendent Dean Wittwer said his decision to close was primarily based on the amount of ice on streets and around school buildings.
The University of Findlay and Bowling Green State University also remain closed today.
Findlay road crews are working to make it possible for schools to reopen this week.
Findlay crews, who used 15 to 19 snowplows during the day Tuesday, began applying a mix of salt and stone to major intersections, bridges and overpasses on Tuesday.
The city has plenty of salt, but salt needs warmer temperatures to melt ice, city Public Works Superintendent Matt Stoffel said. Sunshine and more traffic are critical, too, he said.
As the temperature warms, Hancock County Engineer Chris Long said his 17 snowplows will begin spreading salt on county roads today.
Findlay experienced record cold Monday night, when the temperature fell to 15 degrees below zero, breaking the record for the date of 13 below zero, set in 1924.
Another record fell early Tuesday, when a reading of 14 below broke the record for Jan. 7, minus 10 in 1912.
The temperature rose later Tuesday, reaching a high of 7 degrees. A National Weather Service wind chill advisory was to expire at 9 a.m. today.
The frigid weather caused many meetings and activities to be postponed or canceled Tuesday.
Findlay City Council’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers.
Also, a meeting about proposed plans for a riparian corridor along a portion of Lye Creek near the Blanchard River, scheduled for Tuesday, will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Findlay Municipal Building’s third-floor conference room.
Fostoria City Council rescheduled its Tuesday meeting for 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
North Baltimore Council shifted its meeting from Tuesday to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
McComb on Tuesday lifted a snow emergency, which asked residents to refrain from parking on streets, to allow street crews to remove snow. McComb residents were reminded to make sure snow is cleared away from fire hydrants.
After this week’s very frigid experience, area residents may be shocked by weather that’s on the way.
The National Weather Service predicts Findlay temperatures will rise to the upper 30s by Friday and reach the low 40s over the weekend. Rain is likely Friday night and Saturday, the weather service predicted.
That forecast worries Jon Mitchell, who came to the City Mission of Findlay on Tuesday for a meal and refuge from the cold. He was one of 10 there on Tuesday.
Mitchell’s apartment at 327 E. Main Cross was ruined by the pre-Christmas flood, which followed a snowstorm. He had to throw out furniture. He fears another thaw and flood.
“I just went through a flood, not two weeks ago, so there is no carpeting … and the baseboard heaters are not equipped to deal with this cold weather,” Mitchell said. “The place has not been weatherized, so there’s drafts coming through the windows. The floor’s cold. I don’t have a bed. It’s just kind of rough living.”
Monday night, he slept on the floor, on blankets and in layers of clothing and his winter jacket. He guesses the temperature in his apartment was between 32 and 50, but he does not know for sure because it has no thermostat.
A friend at the City Mission texted him, inviting him to come. Mitchell was reluctant, but decided to walk there Tuesday morning.
“I had to stop at the post office because my face was freezing. I could tell that if I didn’t go in and get warm then and there, I would probably get frostbite,” he said. “So I went in there and warmed up and went the rest of the way.”
So a warming trend sounds kind of nice to him. But with new carpeting and other apartment fixes on the way, it also worries Mitchell.
“I’m just hoping the flood doesn’t come again in a couple of weeks. I’m scared to get anything in there because the (snow) might melt,” he said.
Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin
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