By SEAN RICE and LANCE MIHN
A level 2 emergency was declared for Mercer County early this
morning, after the region received its first major snowfall
of the season.
The emergency designation does not prohibit residents
from traveling on roads, but is a warning of hazardous road
conditions. "We have cars in the ditch everywhere,"
Mercer County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tim Fink said this morning.
Under the level 2 emergency, residents are advised
not to travel the roads unless absolutely necessary. Also, employers
should be contacted before reporting to work, he said.
The sheriff is responsible for informing residents
and issuing the emergency declaration. Mercer County Sheriff
Jeff Grey made the decision shortly after 4 a.m. today.
A level 3 emergency has been declared in Logan,
Darke and Shelby counties. In that event, residents are restricted
from traveling roadways except for emergencies.
In Auglaize County, the sheriff's office does not
inform residents of road conditions with the common emergency
"We have enough faith in our citizenry to know they
will stay home when they shouldn't be out," Lt. Steve Stienecker
But roads in Auglaize County may be in worse shape
than Mercer County.
An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper from the Wapa-koneta
Post said Interstate 75 is down to one lane and traffic is moving
at 25 to 30 mph. Also, he reported several troopers were unable
to travel to work this morning.
Auglaize County has had 12 inches of accumulated
snow since the storm began Wednesday, including six inches today
as of 9 a.m., according to the Auglaize County post of the Ohio
Department of Transportation (ODOT). Severe snow and ice were
being reported and several roads were impassable because of
Mercer County had seen 10 inches of accumulation
according to the Mercer County ODOT garage, including two inches
today. Wind was blowing up to 15 miles per hour in both counties
and blowing snow was a major problem.
The storm dumped as much as two feet of snow in parts of southwest
Ohio and from 6 to 16 inches elsewhere. The National Weather
Service said the rain would turn to snow today and another 6
to 8 inches was possible.
Forecasters predicted temperatures would dive into
the teens through the weekend. Temperatures could approach zero
in some areas Friday night and not rise above freezing until
'I don't believe we've set any records yet,'' Al
Randall, a forecaster at the National Weather Service's Wilmington
station, said Wednesday night. ''The only one in jeopardy is
Dayton, where they had 12.9 inches in 1978. It's not close yet
-- about 7.3 inches -- so we have a ways to go. That record
probably won't be broken today, but it will be close.''
At least three deaths on Wednesday were attributed
to the storm across Ohio.
Janet Akers, 51, of Stoutsville, was killed when
her vehicle slid on ice, rolled over and hit a utility post,
said Sgt. Darrin Blosser of the State Highway Patrol's Lancaster
A man identified by the Cuyahoga County coroner's
office as Edward Whelan, 35, of North Olmsted, was killed in
a two-car crash in Auburn Township, Geauga County Sheriff's
public information officer John Hiscox said.
James Close, 17, of North Lawrence, was killed when
he lost control of his vehicle on a snow-covered road and collided
with another vehicle in northeast Ohio's Tuscarawas Township,
the patrol's Canton Post said.