Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Weather Hits Hard

by Josh Mei

Powdered sidewalks, frosted windshields, and slushy streets are all expected weather conditions during the winter season. Recent conditions, however, have posed as more than just minor inconveniences for Athens residents and students.

In previous days, weather forecasts predicted heavy snow, which is exactly what Athens got. Roads were layered with snow and sidewalks carpeted with powder as the storm started late Monday night and continued into Tuesday.
Precipitation slowed down briefly during parts of the day, but freezing rain started again in the evening, resulting in school closings all over Athens for Wednesday. Even Ohio University was closed due to the weather, as the area was placed on a Level 3 radar warning.

Though the weather has dampened moods and shut down schools, people in Athens have been doing all they can to continue their daily routines. Whether it’s spreading salt, shoveling snow, or even making it to class, everybody is just trying to get through the day safely.

Sheriff's Office
Ever wonder what the weather report means by “Level 1, 2, or 3?”
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly explained that during a Level 1, the roadways are hazardous and drivers are asked to drive cautiously. On Tuesday, Athens was placed on a Level 2 and dropped to Level 1 later in the day.

Sheriff Kelly explains the weather levels

A Level 2 alert means that roads are icy and hazardous, and only the people who feel it’s necessary to travel should be out on the roads.

Under a Level 3, all roads are closed and all travel is prohibited. The law states that motorists will receive citations if they are caught driving in a Level 3 alert.

Facilities Management
Ohio University Facilities Management is working at full capacity, and Grounds Services is taking care of campus roads and sidewalks. In the recent storm, Grounds Services has sent crews out around 5 a.m. to start preparing sidewalks for the day.

Facilities Management
Supervisor Steve Mack explained they don’t want to begin clearing the walks too early if snow is still falling. “Right around 5 or 6 a.m., a couple of hours before classes start is when we’ll start calling people in,” he said.

“Our primary focus is the sidewalks because of all the pedestrian traffic…we focus on the areas around the dorms and classroom buildings and then the areas in between,” he added.

Mack explains the decision-making process on how to treat roads

Driving Tips
Driving on the icy streets can be dangerous, so the Ohio Department of Transportation gives some tips on how to stay safe on the roads.

UPS worker Donald Stein provides his tricks of the trade for staying safe when driving in the midst of the winter weather.

UPS worker Donald Stein gives tips

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