City, ODOT, AES Ohio prep for major winter storm

Travel highly discouraged Wednesday through Friday

Staff report

SIDNEY — The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning for Shelby, Darke and surrounding Counties starting 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2 and ending 7 a.m. Friday, Feb. 4.

Heavy mixed precipitation is expected with snow accumulations of six to 12 inches possible and ice accumulations of a tenth of an inch possible. Blowing snow and hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commutes as travel becomes difficult to impossible. Wind chills will likely fall to near or below zero degrees Friday.

Sidney city leaders met Tuesday morning to plan for the coming storm, said City Manager Andrew Bowsher, noting they are “changing shifts, and preparing our crews for the long working hours ahead” and asking the public, “if possible, please move vehicles off the street so the snow plows can operate more efficiently.”

“If you have to be out on the roadways,” he continued “remember to give our plows plenty of room to operate. Snow plows travel slowly to help ensure correct treatment is being applied to the pavement. Plow drivers can also have difficulty seeing motorists due to blind spots. So, give our crews plenty of room to work.”

Public Works Director Jon Crusey said, “Starting (Wednesday) at noon, crews will begin working rotating 12-hour shifts. This will ensure that we have crews on the road 24-hours a day working to keep major roadways passable. The rotating 12-hour shift will continue until we a finished clearing snow. It is important to understand that during times of heavy snowfall our crews main priorities are main roadways, hills, curves and bridges. Once the snowfall subsides we will be able to start getting into residential areas. We ask that residents keep their vehicles off of the street, if possible, so that the snow plows can operate more efficiently.

“We would also ask anyone with a fire hydrant in front of their home or business to keep it clear of snow, if they are able. This will assist city crews and the fire department when responding to emergencies,” he added.

Crusey also reiterated Bowsher’s request, that if it is necessary to be on the roads, to please give snow plows plenty of room to operate, as they move slowly to ensure correct treatment of the pavement. He also reminded all, that drivers may have a hard time seeing vehicle due to blind spots, so, please give them enough room.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is preparing for this major winter storm that is taking aim on Ohio.

“We are encouraging Ohioans to avoid any unnecessary trips during the storm to help give all of our road crews room to work,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “For those who must travel, please be safe and take it slow, giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.”

In central Ohio, crews expect freezing rain to be the biggest threat. Freezing rain is the most challenging of winter precipitation that ODOT deals with because crews cannot pre-treat roads ahead of the storm, and once the roads are treated, rain continuously washes the material away.

“During winter storms, ODOT strives to keep roads passable to help ensure that emergency services and essential workers can safely reach their destinations,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “But even with our crews out in full force, roads will likely be snow and ice-covered, and it will take much longer to travel. Once the storm moves out, our crews will be able to make progress toward getting traffic moving at regular speed.”

ODOT’s goal is to have the average traffic speed on primary routes back to within 10 mph of the posted speed limit within two hours and secondary routes within four hours of the end of a storm. ODOT forces hit that goal 95% of the time last winter.

As a reminder, ODOT is responsible for plowing and treating more than 43,000-lane-miles of state and U.S. routes outside of municipalities and all interstates except the Ohio Turnpike.

Drivers can find updated travel information, nearly 1,000 live traffic cameras, weather sensors, and more online at If you must drive during the storm, remember to follow winter driving safety tips like slowing down, allowing extra time for travel, and keeping emergency supplies in the vehicle, such as warm clothing and blankets, flashlight, food, water, and a well-charged mobile phone.

Shelby County Sheriff Jim Frye said he will continue to follow the same protocol as retired Sheriff John Lenhart did before him to not issue weather warning levels. He said he will leave that up to individuals to judge as to weather they should be on the roads or not and for employers to decide for themselves if employees should report to work or not.

He issued the a statement on the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page about emergency levels in conjunction with Wilson Health on community awareness as the storm approaches.

Frye said, “As we do not issue snow emergency levels, if conditions get to the point that roads become impassable, I will then issue an advisory to caution citizens as to how road conditions are.”

In the Facebook post on the sheriff’s office’s page, Wilson Health provided the following tips on how to be prepared:

• Gather supplies

• Avoid driving in winter weather at all costs, instead opt to gather everything you need ahead of time. Think of supplies you, your family, and your loved ones may need if you are without power or transportation for several days.

• Things you may consider stocking up on: medications, oxygen tanks (if you are oxygen dependent), groceries, pet food, and batteries.

• Keep your home safe.

• Think of alternative heat sources in case you lose power, such as a fireplace or space heater. Be sure to follow this safety advice:

• Don’t turn the stove on to heat your home. Instead, have extra blankets, sleeping bags, and/or a warm winter coat on hand. You can also opt for a space heater or fireplace.

• Keep electric space heaters at least 3 feet away from curtains, furniture, or bedding. Do not cover your space heater. If possible, use an electric space heater with automatic shut-off and non-glowing elements.

• Never leave children alone near a space heater.

• If the lights go out, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles. If you do opt for candles, never leave lit candles unattended.

• If you use a generator, make sure it is in a space where it is protected from rain or snow. Make sure the generator is in a well-ventilated area as to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Protect Your Water Supply. Extremely cold temperatures can cause water pipes in homes to freeze and/or break. Make sure to leave all taps slightly open so they are dripping continuously. Open cabinet doors beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks so heated air can reach the pipes. If your pipes do freeze, you can thaw them slowly with a hair dryer.

• Snow is suspected to be heavy, if you have a heart or health condition, please do not go out and try to shovel the snow. If you need help with this, there are several organizations and businesses that are more than willing to help, the post said.

• Check on Your Loved Ones. Makes sure your loved ones, especially the elderly and those who are handicapped, are well equipped and taken care of.

If you can’t reach loved ones and you would like the sheriff’s office to check on them, please call 937-498-1111 and they will send out a deputy out to make sure they are safe.

“Please stay safe and as always, if you need assistance, please do not hesitate to call us,” the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page post said.

In Dayton, AES Ohio, the principal subsidiary of DPL Inc. (DPL), is also preparing for the possibility of severe weather with freezing rain anticipated to arrive later this week. Crews are ready to respond if power outages occur.

AES Ohio is urging its customers to plan ahead by creating emergency kits, discussing emergency/back up plans if they rely on electrically powered medical equipment, and knowing where their fuse boxes or circuit breakers are located.

Customers can report downed power lines and outages day or night online at or by calling 877-4OUTAGE (877-468-8243). Customers can also stay updated on outages and restoration efforts by following AES Ohio on social media. of ODOT
Travel highly discouraged Wednesday through Friday

Staff report