Grand Lake residents can
use weather phone line or Web site for info on treacherous conditions
By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
How are the roads in Dayton? How fast can I travel going in
to work? Will the roads be clear tomorrow?
These questions from callers — and even more ridiculous
ones — can keep local emergency dispatchers frustrated
and distracted from their first priority: Getting help to those
“The dispatch center gets to be like a radio show call-in
sometimes. The phone just keeps ringing off the wall some days
with people asking us whether it’s safe to drive or how
fast they should go,” said Lt. Dan Lay of the Wapakoneta
post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).
Lay said troopers and OSHP dispatchers won’t tell people
whether they should hit the roads or not. That’s up to
each motorist and his own circumstances, he said. Rarely are
roadways ever closed unless there’s an accident, so people
have to use common sense.
“If it’s snowing out, it’s likely roads are
hazardous. You have to use your own judgment. Is it necessary,
really necessary to go out? If not, stay home,” he said.
The OSHP has a Road and Weather Line where motorists can call
to find out road conditions in any county in Ohio. The number
County 911 dispatchers also get plagued with calls from people
who want road conditions for places not even in the local area.
They try to be courteous, but in the heat of an emergency when
an ambulance, fire truck and other rescue crews need to be summoned
first, it’s difficult.
“I’ve had people ask me what the road conditions
are in another state, even Florida,” said Lori Yaney,
a 911 dispatcher for Mercer County. “It’s extremely
Yaney said she “bites her tongue” and frequently
lets out steam after she gets off the phone. Dispatchers will,
however, try to help by giving a brief description of local
roadways if they have time, she said.
The problem is magnified when several phone lines are ringing
and dispatchers don’t know which ones are “real”
emergencies and which callers just want a weather report.
“It creates a real stress for the dispatchers, and really,
their first job is to maintain that lifeline to officers who
are already out there helping people on those roads,”
For those with Internet access, www.Buckeyetraffic.org is a
good, all-around source for Ohio road and weather conditions.
The site features the Ohio Transportation Information System
(OTIS), which gives locations for all types of road activity
such as construction zones, closures and lane restrictions and
Buckeyetraffic, a product of the Ohio Department of Transportation,
also features RWIS, Road and Weather Information System, which
gives air and surface temperature, precipitation, wind data
and visibility outlook via road sensors placed along major highways
around the state. Viewers are asked to choose the county of
their choice before receiving data.
One of four road sensors in Auglaize County this morning measured
traffic speed on southbound I-75 at 56 mph. The speed is posted
at 65 mph.
The Web site also offers views from Web cameras around Ohio.
For further weather information, check out the National Weather
Service Web site at nws.noaa.gov.