COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Ahead of the winter storm, expected to bring dangerously low temperatures and a flash freeze to Northeast Ohio, starting early Friday, state officials were at the Ohio Emergency Operations Center to talk about preparation.
The storm is expected to affect every county in Ohio, said Gov. Mike DeWine. Everyone is urged to stay home, he said.
“We do face a crisis today,” he said. “The obvious recommendation is to stay home. These are the Christmas holidays. … People are used to being with loved ones and they’re used to traveling to see those loved ones.
“All of those things coming together, I think, make a very dangerous situation.”
A media briefing was set Thursday afternoon with DeWine, Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks, Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick and Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Charles A. Jones.
Watch that briefing in the player below:
According to the National Weather Service, winter weather warnings are in effect for a multi-hazard winter storm with strong winds, very cold temperatures, snow and blowing snow. Total snow accumulations of 2 to 6 inches are possible with wind gusts as high as 60 mph. Wind chill values could be as low as 30 below zero.
“When Ohioans gets up in the morning, the roads are going to be dangerous and very difficult,” DeWine said.
The biggest threat with this storm will be strong winds and the dangerously low wind chill temperatures, said FOX 8 meteorologists.
Merick recommended Ohioans delay holiday travel. But if they do intend to travel, they should tell family members where they’re going and when they leave, she said.
“Please stay home. I can’t stress that enough,” said Jones.
Those who do travel should make sure their vehicle’s battery, tires, wipers and defrosters are in good working order and top off their washer fluid before hitting the road.
State road crews are ready for the coming storm, but road conditions are expected to be treacherous, said Marchbanks.
“Roads will be passable,” he said, but the blowing snow expected could re-cover what trucks have already plowed.
Marchbanks recommended motorists tack on “a lot of extra time” to get to their destination.
“Just because the sign says you can drive 70 mph on the highway doesn’t mean you have to,” he said. “Slow down and drive safely.”
Road salt loses its effectiveness when temperatures get below 20 degrees, Marchbanks said. With below-zero temperatures expected through the storm, he said motorists shouldn’t assume that roads are safe because they’re salted.
Some power outages are expected across the state, Merick said. Residents should also make sure their phones are charged tonight so they can stay in contact with others.
Ohio’s electric companies are expected to be sharing information on outages with the state, which will then coordinate with local emergency management agencies in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, Merick said.
“We don’t expect a massive power problem, but clearly there will be power that will be out in certain cases,” DeWine said.
“Clearly, it is a time where Ohioans should take care of Ohioans,” he said, and recommended residents check on elderly neighbors or those who rely on powered medical equipment.
Warming centers have been activated across the state, including in Northeast Ohio. Merick recommended residents find one that can also accommodate their pets, so that they aren’t left at home.