Thursday, December 14, 2000

Some roads may be slippery

Overnight rain, snow could slow morning commute

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Most major Tristate roads are reported to be in good condition for this morning's rush hour, but secondary roads may be slick from freezing rain overnight and snow Wednesday.

 • Closings, delays
  • Weather conditions, forecast
        “Leave a lot earlier, drive a lot slower, and increase space between you and other drivers,” said Lt. Mark Griffith of Union Township police in Clermont County. “It's just common sense.”

        The season's first snowstorm forced schools to close and snarled traffic with up to 4 inches in some parts of the Tristate. Temperatures will be biting but there will be little if any precipitation.

        The high today, according to AccuWeather, is expected to be 34.

        Friday should bring a relative heat wave, however, with a high temperature of 40.

        Clermont was among numerous counties, including Kenton, Boone and Campbell in Kentucky, that by Wednesday afternoon declared “Level 1 snow emergencies” — which means roads are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow.

        Automobile crashes increased significantly by then, prompting numerous temporary closures, including the ramp from Fort Washington Way to the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, police and ARTIMIS reported.

        President Joseph Steger used e-mail to tell everyone he was closing the University of Cincinnati's five campuses at 3 p.m. Wednesday. It was that or send 7,000 employees into rush hour.

        Congestion was made worse by school closings that forced parents to pick up their children, or be home for them.

        As early as 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, calls for afternoon school cancellations began pouring into the offices of Springmyer Communications, the firm schools call to get their delays or cancellations put on radio and TV announcements.

        Owner Charles Springmyer said the first calls came from Kentucky. Between 130 and 140 schools and other agencies in Greater Cincinnati and 100 in the Greater Dayton area had called in reports of early dismissals, Mr. Springmyer said.

        “It's the worst call in the world to make, because you're always wrong in somebody's eye no matter what you decide,” said Superintendent Charles Wiedenmann of Fairfield Schools, where students were let out an hour early and afternoon kindergarten was canceled.

        But while the snow kept some school kids outside whipping snowballs at trees and occasionally each other, other students beat a quick pace to the warmth of home.

        “I might be out playing, but not today; it's too cold,” Terrie Shearer, 13, of Avondale, said with a smile as he walked home on Reading Road from South Avondale Elementary School. “I got to get me some gloves and a scarf.”

        It was not an original idea. Stores on Wednesday were swamped.

        “We have seen a whole lot of increase in sales from the snow,” said Mike Ellerman, manager of the Hader Hardware store in Westwood. “We've sold a lot of shovels, salt and a noncorrosive product” that melts snow. “Sales have been up since last night and consistent throughout the day. It seems that all you have to do is mention the word snow and people will come in.”

        The usual early-winter Catch-22 is that the more people who are out buying home and road supplies, the more troublesome traffic becomes.

        Between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Hamilton city police were summoned to investigate 35 crashes, a few with minor injuries, said Officer Dave Crawford, police spokesman.

        Most of the crashes occurred on secondary streets, including “quite a few” on Millville Avenue, he said. There also were vehicles stuck as they tried to ascend hills, Officer Crawford said.

        In Indian Hill, Walton Creek Road north of Wooster Pike was blocked for short time when a car skidded down a hill and struck a guard rail. There were no injuries, reported a spokesman for the Indian Hill Rangers.

        Indiana Highway Patrol posts at Versailles and Connersville reported snow-covered roads with slick spots including Interstate 74. There were several reports of cars sliding off the interstate.

        No serious injuries were reported.

        Officials for the Ohio Department of Transportation, responsible for clearing the area's interstates as well as U.S. highways and state roads not within cities or towns, also said they were ready for the storm.

        “We had a dry run of our routes on Dec. 2,” said Kim Patton, spokeswoman for ODOT's District 8 office in Lebanon.

        Ben Kaufman, Janice Morse, Jim Hannah, Kristina Goetz, Walt Schaefer and Anya Rao contributed to this story.


ELECTION 2000 SPECIAL COVERAGE: Tristate reaction and impact from Al Gore's concession and George W. Bush's transition to the presidency, plus the latest news from Associated Press.

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