By BRIAN BOHNERT
Law Enforcement agencies throughout the tri-county area stayed busy Wednesday as another winter storm roared through northwest Ohio, causing treacherous driving conditions.
Numerous calls of automobile crashes and slide-offs were reported throughout Seneca, Wood and Hancock counties Wednesday as inches upon inches of snow fell, resting atop layers of ice.
According to a dispatcher for the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received an abundance of calls regarding vehicles sliding off roads and into ditches as blowing and drifting snow, reduced visibilities and sheets of ice made morning and afternoon commutes dangerous throughout Fostoria and the surrounding areas.
Accidents on U.S. 23 north of Fostoria, U.S. 224 between Findlay and Tiffin and Ohio 18 between Fostoria and Tiffin caused delays for motorists as crews worked to clear the crashes from the roadways.
Deputy Juliann Flag of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office said visibility played a major role in the number of automobile incidents reported throughout the county. With Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn declaring the Level 3 snow emergency midafternoon, she said many drivers were still on the roads.
“It seems to be a combination of the bad visibility and the drifting snow. People are going too fast for the cruddy conditions out there,” Flag said shortly after 3 p.m. “We’ve had no injury crashes so far within the last several hours but we did have a couple minor injuries early in the morning.”
Seneca and Wood counties upgraded to Level 3 snow emergencies at around 2 p.m. Wednesday as gusty winds and high volumes of snow accumulation reduced visibilities. Similar conditions forced the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office to institute a Level 2 snow emergency at about the same time.
As of approximately 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, a dispatcher with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said deputies had received no calls of injury crashes, but slippery conditions led to many drivers sliding off the roads.
At around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that U.S. 24 near the Lucas/Henry County line was closed due to wind and snow. Officers said the road was impassable there.
Just before 4 p.m., a representative of the OHSP Fremont Post said no roads throughout the area had been closed as a result of the storm, despite the nasty conditions.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for northern Ohio until 8 p.m. Wednesday as anywhere from 6-10 inches of snow was possible in some areas.
Rain was expected to arrive in the region overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, possibly sleet and freezing rain, with snow starting to fall in the early morning hours.
The weather service said between a quarter-inch and a half-inch of rain was possible in the area overnight. As the temperature was expected to plummet early Wednesday, the weather service said rain, snow, freezing rain and sleet would pummel the area until becoming all snow after 4 p.m.
Snow and sleet accumulation of 4 to 8 inches was possible in the Fostoria area, the weather service said.