By Colin Foster and Will E. Sanders
MIAMI COUNTY — Icy road conditions caused more than a quarter mile stretch of road to be closed down in Troy on Monday evening.
The Troy Police Department shut down an area of West Market Street between Ridge Avenue and Kroger. The stretch of road was closed at 5 p.m. Monday and remained closed through Tuesday.
“It was a hill that was ice covered,” Troy Police Department Captain Joe Long said. “Cars were having problems getting up and couldn’t stop on the way down. It’s basically a sheet of ice.”
There were 14 calls that had came in to the Troy Police as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, with four of them being for minor car accidents. Long said a majority of the problems in Troy came Monday night as everything started to freeze over. He also urged people to be smart on the roadways with these type of conditions.
“In these kind of conditions, especially with the ice, people need to go slower and make sure not to slam on their breaks,” Long said. “We’re finding a lot of assured-clear distance crashes going on.”
The arctic blast and snowfall created icy road conditions, drifting and blowing snow, and sub-zero temperatures that rendered road salt useless. The conditions caused a variety of problems Monday and Tuesday, but the lingering effects of the so-called polar vortex are now starting to vanish as Miami County begins the slow thawing process.
The arctic combination of every terrible aspect of an Ohio winter practically brought residents to a halt as the deep freeze conditions also resulted in a Level 1 snow emergency being declared by Miami County Sheriff Charles Cox, who only rarely issues such declarations. Icy road conditions and blowing and drifting snow, especially in the more rural areas of the county, were cited as the reason. The snow emergency was lifted Tuesday evening, as Interstate 75 and most state routes are in fair to good condition, according to Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dave Duchak.
“Secondary rural roads still have a lot of ice coverage so motorists should continue to drive slowly. With the weather warming tomorrow there should be dramatic improvement on the secondary roads with the ice melting,” he said.
The Miami County Highway Department has been hard at work the last few days, but the weather conditions haven’t made their job easy.
Miami County Highway Department Chief Deputy Engineer Britt Havenar said they have been busy for the last couple days, but they weren’t working through the night Monday because the salt was virtually deemed useless.
However, Havenar did add that he thinks they are starting to make a dent on the roadways.
“When it’s that cold, 10 below (and colder), the salt won’t work,” Havenar said. “We’re starting to get treatment on the roads with the sunshine coming out. “We’re making a little progress. With the temperature supposed to be in the 20’s (today), the salt will work better.”
Havenar added another issue is the continual winds that keep blowing snow back onto roadways that have already been plowed.
• School closings
Every school in Miami County was closed Monday and Tuesday, and many of the athletic events that were scheduled were postponed as well.
For some schools, that meant the growing possibility of having to make up days in the summer. But in conditions like these, the staff and students’ safety comes first.
Troy City Schools missed its fifth day already. For the second consecutive week, Troy has had back-to-back days off of school.
“I hope we can get (school) in (Wednesday),” Troy City Schools superintendent Eric Herman said. “It really just depends on what the weather does to us.”
Miami East superintendent Todd Rappold went out and braved the elements Monday night, driving around the roads in the district and getting a first-hand look at just how bad they were. Rappold said he made the decision to close around 6 p.m. Monday.
“It happens occasionally (all county schools closing),” Rappold said. “We’ve had some ice storms in the past, with cold temperatures, but it’s a rare occurrence, that’s for sure. It’s also a rare occurrence for us to use five days just into January.”
Miami East students, however, still have hope they won’t have to make up days in the summer. The district has “E-Days” where students can complete work from home. As long as 75 percent of the assignments are complete, students won’t have to make up the days missed.
Rappold said that the prospect for a third-straight snow day really depends on if the wind dies down.
State officials urged Ohioans to take preventative actions against the extreme cold weather and stated that around the state several individuals sought medical attention for cold exposure, frostbite and hypothermia. In addition, countless falls were reported not only in the Miami Valley, but throughout the state.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency released the following tips for Ohioans who have to be or go outside during the cold: 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; avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible; and if you are stranded, it is safest to stay in your car.
The biggest risk for being out in such severe winter weather is frostbite and hypothermia, according to the OEMA.