LIMA — Old Man Winter delivered a powerful arctic punch Monday on the heels of a snowstorm that left people with aching backs from shoveling a wet snow that fell the night before.
Monday morning ushered in brutally cold temperatures, between minus-5 to minus- 10 degrees Fahrenheit, with winds gusting up to 35 mph and wind chills approaching minus-40 degrees.
It was so cold any exposed skin was in danger of frostbite. Exposure as little as 5 minutes could make a person’s uncovered face feel as if needles were piercing the skin. Authorities warned of the dangerous conditions and urged people to stay indoors.
They also asked residents to not venture out unless absolutely necessary. Most counties were under some sort of snow emergency with many in the area assigning the highest level restricting travel to emergency vehicles and snowplows only with few exceptions.
Mercer and Putnam counties were on Level 3 snow emergencies, meaning only emergency personnel should be on the roads.
“The Level 3 will remain in effect as long as the wind is as strong as it is now,” according to Putnam County Sheriff Michael Chandler’s Facebook page. “Crews are out plowing, and most of the main roads are passable. Temperatures will continue to make wind chill a serious issue for anyone outside. The roads will continue to drift, so be careful if you must travel.”
Two tractor-trailers jackknifed on Interstate 75 one near the Fourth Street exit in Lima that closed down one of the two northbound lanes. The other was just north of Wapakoneta but all lanes remained open.
Roads are snow covered and slippery but the biggest problem could be drifts that make some roads impassable, said Russ Decker, director of the Allen County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.
“It’s just extremely dangerous to be outside,” he said.
The high winds are causing drifting snow that can cover roads just plowed, Decker said.
The Ohio Department of Transportation reported sending out 90 crews throughout its District 1. They’ve been out throughout the night. Operators are focused on plowing right now, as blowing and drifting continues to occur. They’ve been directed to keep salt spinners operating at medium speed, in part because the extreme cold temperatures negate the effect of salt and other materials, according to ODOT spokeswoman Rhonda Pees.
•Allen County was under a Level 2 snow emergency. Bluffton also declared a snow emergency. Decker urged residents to check the Allen County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management website (http://Allen-EMA.com) for road level updates rather than call the Allen County Sheriff’s dispatch center, which has been flooded with calls.
•Auglaize County doesn’t issue emergency levels but reported hazardous blowing and drifting snow covering icy roads.
•Hardin County was under a Level 2 snow emergency because of slush and ice on roadways.
•Mercer County was under a Level 3 snow emergency. Only emergency personnel should be on the roads.
•Putnam County was under a Level 3 snow emergency, closing all roadways to nonemergency personnel. Employees should contact their employer to see if they must report to work. Anyone driving needlessly could be subject to arrest, Chandler said.
•Van Wert County issued a snow emergency, limiting roadway travel to emergency vehicles only.
The Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 reported the heaviest snowfall and worst road conditions appeared to be in Putnam and Van Wert counties.
Allen County has had sporadic power outages because of the storm. Outages were reported in the Eastgate area of Lima and Spencerville but power was back on in Spencerville by early morning, Decker said.
The National Weather Service had much of the area under a winter storm warning until 4 p.m. Monday.
The National Weather Service has a wind chill warning in effect until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Winds were reported between 25 and 35 mph with wind chills approaching more than minus 40 degrees.
Temperatures dropped throughout the day to minus 11 degrees by 3:30 p.m., on the way into the negative teens by evening.
The Putnam County Office of Public Safety recorded a 38 mph wind with a minus 12 degree temperature, making a minus 45 degree wind chill.
The American Red Cross opened its Collett Street shelter house for anyone needing a warm place but as of 3 p.m. reported no one showing up.
“If someone loses power or heat they can go to the Red Cross chapter house to warm up,” Decker said.
Decker urged people to check on senior citizens and anyone who lives alone.
Authorities urge anyone who must travel to bring an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. There were reports of abandoned cars along some roads or highways.
People should take the possibilities of frost bite and hypothermia seriously. With wind chills as low as predicted, frostbite could take place in 10 to 30 minutes outside, according to the National Weather Service’s windchill chart.
ODOT also urges people to have as full of a gas tank as possible.
BREAD AND MILK
While Putnam County had a Level 3 snow emergency most of Monday, that didn’t stop a delivery truck from making a much-needed drop off to Kohls Markets in Ottawa, said Denny Burgei.
“Milk and bread were the only things that came in, but we needed them,” he said. “We ran out [Sunday], and the day before that.”
The store saw a little bit of traffic Monday after a rush Saturday and Sunday. The oddest purchase of the day was two people who came in just to buy new toothbrushes.
KEEP THE FURNACE RUNNING
Most of the problems for people with natural gas today involve furnaces that stopped working, said Peggy Ehora, of Dominion East Ohio Gas. She said that’s because of outside vent pipes getting plugged up on the roof or ground level.
It’s important to keep those areas free of snow, Ehora said, although roofs can be more difficult.
Lima Mall plans to reopen at 10 a.m. Tuesday, depending on weather concerns. Employees should contact their supervisors to discuss individual situations.
Waste Management canceled Monday collection. Customers will be on a one-day delay for the remainder of the week.
All Lima Public Library branches closed Monday. There is a grace period on items due today.
All Allen County offices, except the EMA, Sheriff’s Office and the engineer were closed. The Lima Police Department was open and some city employees reported to work Monday in other offices.
Lima Rotary Club canceled its noon meeting at the Civic Center.
J&N Hallers said Monday and Tuesday routes will be picked up next week with normal pickup set to resume Wednesday.
The Legal Aid of Western Ohio and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality also announced the closure of its Lima office.
St. Rita’s Medical Center closed the Anticoagulation (Coumadin) and Tobacco Cessation Clinics on Monday. Patients will be contacted to reschedule.
Eastside Urgent Care closed until further notice because of a power outage.
Whole Health Dentistry closed. Office will contact people scheduled for today once it returns to work.
The West Ohio Food Bank was closed Monday.
Bath Township board of trustees office closed today. Road Department and Fire Department remained open.
Mad River Mountain ski resort was closed Monday and Tuesday.
The Perry Township trustees meeting scheduled for Tuesday night was canceled.
The Bluffton Public Library closed Monday.
Bluffton declared a snow emergency, closing village offices. The council meeting was moved to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Parking restrictions will be enforced.
Bluffton University campus closed Monday and Tuesday. Offices open at normal business times on Wednesday. Classes resume Thursday.
Garbage pickup pushed back one day.
Mercer County commissioners closed all county offices.
Monday night’s council meeting postponed to 7 p.m. Thursday. Delphos city buildings closed for the day to the public.
Spencerville council meeting rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.
Grand Health Challenge weigh-in postponed from Tuesday to Friday from 6 to 8:30 a.m. in the Cardiac Center of Joint Township District Memorial Hospital.
Grand Lake Cardiac wellness exercise program cancelled Tuesday.
At Van Wert County Hospital, new employee orientation was canceled. The Gaylord E. Leslie Wellness Center closed. Van Wert County Hospital’s physical, occupational and speech therapy/rehabilitation closed.
Offices will be closed all day for Van Wert Medical Services for Dr. Hoehn, Dr. Wray, Dr. Jarvis, Dr. Kathlib, Chris Ulrich, Dr. Hohman, Dr. Huber, Shane Gerber, Dr. Conte and Dr. Miller.
The snow and frigid weather was not expected to affect mail delivery. The Postal Service was placing a priority on delivering mail such as medicine and other essential items along with the regular mail.
The Postal Service was asking people to make a pathway to the mailbox to assist carriers in reaching the mailbox. That included clearing ice and snow from pathways, steps and porches.
Officials at Dominion East Ohio gas company were urging customers to conserve on their natural gas use as the subzero temperatures put a high demand on supply. Officials urged people to turn down their thermostats a little to conserve in hopes of avoiding any interruptions in the supply of natural gas.
People also could take steps to keep the house warm such as blocking off drafts from the bottom of doors by placing a rolled up towel or rug at the bottom of a door.
Many area school districts cancelled tonight’s athletic practices and events, including Delphos St. John’s, Kalida schools, Lima schools, Ottoville schools and Spencerville schools.
Spencerville’s athletic boosters meeting was postponed to Monday.
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