By Randa Wagner
January 7, 2014
The new year roared into Morrow County with a winter storm that made driving risky business and being outdoors even riskier. Once the snow stopped, the coldest temperatures in 40 years set in.
All Morrow County schools and some businesses closed Monday and Tuesday in response to wind chill factors that were life-threatening. Shoppers hit the stores over the weekend in anticipation of not being able to get out early in the week.
Mt. Gilead Save-A-Lot Manager Kevin Houpt said Saturday was their heaviest shopping day with milk, canned vegetables, and meat disappearing first.
“Bread went well, but not like the vegetables,” said Houpt. “The bagged potatoes - they went too. We’re completely out. There are still eggs, but [the shoppers] really went for the staple foods.”
Their milk truck, expected Monday from Lima, was coming in from a Level 3 county, so its arrival was questionable.
Saturday Kroger shoppers said beans and canned foods, meat, deli items, and bottled water disappeared fast, with eggs and bread supplies dwindling.
Mt. Gilead Village Administrator Dan Rogers said aside from the obvious advice to stay inside, the village took extra measures to keep areas at the water and sewer plants from freezing.
“Probably the biggest challenge will be trash pickup Tuesday and Wednesday,” Rogers said. “We will have extra manpower following the truck so that the workers are not in the elements more than 15 minutes at a time. We will have a pickup truck following the garbage truck until the route is completed.”
Rogers added the village will not be plowing the snow from the streets because ‘if we do, we will have nothing but ice - because the salt will not work unless the temp is above 20 degrees.”
Morrow County Sheriff Steve Brenneman said Monday there hadn’t been any real challenges up to that point, with no major traffic incidents or calls because of the cold (the Highway Patrol reported three minor accidents Monday morning).
“We did go to a Level One (Emergency) because the back roads have some drifting on them,” he noted. “The County Highway Department has had some problems with lines freezing up on their trucks, so they will quit plowing before dark and not go back out again until about 5 am (Tuesday).”
The level one snow emergency would continue during Monday night because, with continued blowing, there would be drifting on the back roads, mainly the north south roads.
“Drivers should be very cautious, especially after dark. of hitting snow drifts,” Brenneman warned. “We will have a 4-wheel drive vehicle available to the officers and are making sure they are properly prepared for the cold themselves. People just need to be aware it is bitterly cold and dress accordingly. If driving, they need to slow down, be cautious, keep their vehicles full of fuel, and have the proper safety equipment with them.”
What seemed like a two-part weather system started January 2, with 3 - 5 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 30 mph Thursday turned north central Ohio into a deep freeze, with a high of 15 degrees and a wind chill of -8 degrees. Morrow County was spared the heavy snowfall that hit the northeastern part of the U.S. with two feet or more in some areas. Once the snow stopped, the frigid temperatures continued. Friday morning commuters woke up to 4 degrees and sunshine.
Saturday and Sunday saw temperatures around 30, then it was back to temperatures between 4 and 15 degrees - and those were the daily highs. The came Monday.
Commuters woke up to barely-starting vehicles and biting winds. At 2:12 p.m. Monday, the temperature had dropped to -7 degrees with a wind chill of -22 degrees. Tuesday wind chills were expected to be -30 to -40 F.
Though Wednesday is expected to bring temperatures of 20 degrees (and upward through the week), winter isn’t over, and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Department of Health urges Ohioans to take precaution against cold weather:
Keeping Your Family & Your Neighbors Safe in Extreme Temperatures
COLUMBUS— Ohioans are being urged to take preventive action against extreme cold-weather conditions by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Department of Health. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.
Since December 24, the Ohio Department of Health has learned of 37 emergency room visits related to cold exposures, hypothermia or frost bite. They will continue to closely monitor similar visits over the next several days as well as emergency room visits due to carbon monoxide exposure.
Although staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce the risk of car crashes and falls on the ice, you may also face indoor hazards. Many homes will be too cold—either due to a power failure or because the heating system isn’t adequate for the weather. When people must use space heaters and fireplaces to stay warm, the risk of household fires increases, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Check on your neighbor:
Ohioans are urged to check on their neighbors as temperatures across much of the state are expected to dip into the negative double-digits. Ohioans should get in touch with friends, family and loved ones, and help spread the word about how to stay safe in the extreme cold.
Learn how to best help older Ohioans in your neighborhood with these tips from the Ohio Department of Aging.
Follow these important steps to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors:
• Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
• Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors—the fumes are deadly.
• Never leave lit candles unattended.
• Keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
• Check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather.
• Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
• Eat well-balanced meals to help you stay warmer
If you must go outside:
• Dress warmly and stay dry.
• Wear a hat, scarf, and mittens.
• Avoid frostbite.
• If you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly.
• Avoid walking on ice or getting wet.
• Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing.
• Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible.
• If you are stranded, it is safest to stay in your car.
Be cautious about travel:
• Listen for radio or television reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service.
• Do not travel in low visibility conditions.
• Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible.
• If you must travel by car, use tire chains and take a mobile phone with you.
• If you must travel, let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive. Ask them to notify authorities if you are late.
• Check and restock the winter emergency supplies in your car before you leave.
• Never pour water on your windshield to remove ice or snow; shattering may occur.
• Don’t rely on a car to provide sufficient heat; the car may break down.
• Always carry additional warm clothing appropriate for the winter conditions.
Know the risks of extremely cold temperatures:
• When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
• Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
•Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.