SEVILLE, Ohio (WJW) – Wednesday’s winter blast seemed unusual if for no other reason than it worked its way through the state of Ohio from the south, impacting southernmost counties before and perhaps harder than counties to the north.
“We were prepared for the storm to come in. Our crews came in last night, the night shift came in and they were out on the roads before it even started to snow, so we were ready,” said Crystal Neelon of the Ohio Department of Transportation District 3 headquarters in Ashland.
“It didn’t come quite as hard as we thought it was going to. First thing this morning, I thought it was going to be here a little bit earlier, but right around rush hour this morning is when it started to come in pretty hard,” said Neelon.
While not a paralyzing snowfall, the storm created treacherous conditions during the morning commute, covering streets and highways with a slick, icy slush.
The conditions contributed to a crash on Interstate 71 early Wednesday that left all southbound lanes near Seville closed for more than an hour after a tractor trailer overturned, its trailer blocking the lanes.
Jeremy Fenton was just behind the truck when it crashed.
“The roads were a lot worse than they looked. They were pretty deceiving when we were stopped and we were outside of the car trying to get him out. There was a lot more slush on the roads than you could see,” said Fenton.
He says the driver of the tractor trailer moved from the right lane into the center lane to go around a slower car.
When he did that, the driver of a pickup truck in the middle lane moved into the far left lane to pass the tractor trailer.
“He wanted to pass the semi, so he went into the fast lane, the pickup truck did, and then as he was passing him, I just saw him starting to fishtail and went over in front of the semi and the semi had no choice. There was nothing he could do,” said Fenton.
The driver of the tractor trailer was not seriously injured in the crash.
The weather contributed to other similar spinouts throughout the area as well as the closing of numerous Northeast Ohio school districts.
By mid-day, as temperatures rose, the snow transitioned into rain, making the already wet, heavy snow even more difficult to shovel.
Tony Eckert was just getting started clearing parking lots with his plow about noon.
“Yep. Wet, sloppy snow. You can’t salt it. You have to push it,” said Eckert.
With temperatures in the mid-30s, the rain which continued into the afternoon started melting much of the snow and slush that was left on pavement.
ODOT turned its attention on what could happen after the temperatures dropped again Wednesday evening.
“What the rain is going to do is it may melt some of the snow, depending on the temperatures. It’s going to melt some of the snow, but as it stays cold, it’s going to cause some freezing on the roadways, so what we are going to do is to continue to monitor the temperatures, the air temperatures and the road temperatures, and continue treating with salt so that the roads don’t freeze,” said Neelon.
“We will continue to treat the roads with salt. Our salt actually needs water to activate that mixture. That’s why we use salt to brine when we are putting it down on the road, so we will continue to use salt, but yes, the rain will wash it off and that is why our crews will continue to monitor the roadways,” she added.