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'People really just need to get off the road'

Scott Seitz • Jan 10, 2014 at 8:35 PM

State and county highway department crews continue to battle drifting snow amid extremely low temperatures.

"Most of the county is shut down," County Engineer Joe Kovach said Monday afternoon.

"We're holding up OK," he added. "That's if our trucks could stay on the road."

Huron County was under a Level 3 snow emergency from noon Monday to early Tuesday morning, meaning motorists were ordered off the roads unless there was an emergency. Violators could face criminal charges. The snow emergency is now at Level 2, meaning residents should check with their employers as to whether they should report to work and motorists should use extreme caution if they must travel.

Kovach said one of the plows slid off Butler Road.

"We've got a wrecker out there now, pulling him out," Kovach said.

"It's not really the snow; it's the wind," he added. "Salt's no good.

"People really just need to get off the road," Kovach said. "It's hazardous, with bad wind and slick ice conditions."

With temperatures as low as they are, salt alone will not clear the roads of the elements, said Christine Myers, spokesperson for District 3 of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Once the temperature dips below zero, a chemical called calcium chloride, combined with salt, makes clearing roads more effective, Myers said.

"We have the ability to get it quickly if we need it," she said about calcium chloride.

Starting in December, ODOT implements two 12-hour shifts, Myers said.

"We've had crews running 24 hours around the clock," she said.

In Huron County, 11 crews run 12-hour shifts, Myers said.

The biggest problem crew members are facing is drifting. If snow drifts once in one area, chances are drifting will re-occur, she said.

"We just have to keep up on it," she said.

Myers said crews also have to be on the look-out for equipment break-downs. With that in mind, ODOT has mechanics working around the clock.

"We're doing everything we can to keep the roads safe and passable," she said. "People expect us to keep the roads clear in these types of conditions.

"Our managers will be keeping on eye on the road conditions. Drivers will continue to keep roads safe and passable until weather moves out of the area."

The forecast calls for temperatures to reach 45 degrees Saturday.

"That's crazy stuff," Kovach said. "We're working and we'll stay working. We won't put our guys at risk. They just need to slow down because the snow is really drifting."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Aaron Krause contributed to this article.

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