FROM STAFF REPORTS
The day after Christmas turned into a nightmare for motorists and airport travelers as the winter season's first major snowstorm besieged Northeast Ohio.
Snow started falling heavily across Portage County at mid-morning Dec. 26, and made traveling difficult by nightfall. The snow let up about dark, and a National Weather Service winter storm warning, which was supposed to run until 7 a.m. Dec. 27, was canceled at about 6 p.m. Dec. 26.
Portage County Sheriff Dave Doak issued a Level 1 snow emergency for the county on the afternoon of Dec. 26, meaning "roadways are hazardous with blowing and drafting snow, and also may be icy."
Motorists who had to be out on the roads were urged to drive very cautiously.
Aurora police Lt. Don Johnson reported no traffic accidents that officers responded to during the storm, and the only one he heard of was in a business parking lot on South Chillicothe Road.
"I think since a lot of people were off work that day, there was a lot less traffic on the roads," he said.
Service Director John Trew said his crews encountered no major problems, noting main roads were pretty clear by 9 p.m. Dec. 26, and drivers were cleaning up side streets until about midnight.
"We had about a dozen guys out plowing and used 11 or 12 trucks," he said. "We were able to push a lot of snow off the roads and not use as much salt as usual because the temperature wasn't real cold. We used about 150 to 300 tons of salt. Some snows we use 400 to 500 tons."
The Dec. 26 storm caused a number of closures and parking bans. About 2 p.m. Dec. 26, the Portage County commissioners closed all county buildings. They reopened at noon Dec. 27.
PARKING bans were in effect in several Portage County towns, including Aurora. The local ban was issued early in the afternoon Dec. 26 and run through 1 p.m. Dec. 28. The bans allow city crews to clear snow and ice from streets.
Numerous weather-related traffic crashes and instances of cars sliding off roadways were reported throughout Dec. 26.
Ohio Edison also reported that about 240 people in Portage County, mostly Suffield Township residents, lost electricity during the afternoon because of incidents caused by the storm.
Anytime there is nasty weather, the public can check with the Ohio Department of Transportation's website at www.buckeyetraffic.org for road conditions around Ohio.
ODOT spokesman rent Kovacs said the agency had 16 plow trucks "prepped and ready to go" before snow started to fall across Portage and surrounding counties. ODOT maintains 500 miles of state roads in Portage.
"Our crews have been pretreating with brine over the past 24 hours. This prevents the snow from bonding to the pavement. Local, county and state road crews were already on the roads by late morning Dec. 26," Kovacs said.
Portage County Engineer Michael Marozzi said all county crews were out by 11 a.m. Dec. 26 doing preventive salting where needed. He cautioned drivers to allow extra time and watch for changing road conditions.
Streetsboro had 10 plow trucks out on city streets, according to Mayor Glenn Boska.
Some stores and businesses closed early on Dec. 26 and some events were canceled because of the weather.