Last updated: January 07. 2014 12:19AM - 1037 Views
By William Duffield Staff writer

William Duffield | Xenia GazetteWindblown snow and ice leave a surface that gives the impression of a stark, unrelenting environment.
William Duffield | Xenia GazetteWindblown snow and ice leave a surface that gives the impression of a stark, unrelenting environment.
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XENIA — School administrators in Greene County announced Sunday that their respective schools would be closed on Monday, delaying the return from winter break, as forecasts of bitter cold and wind, and chances of heavy snow, were still deep in the thought process. But they weren’t alone.

Schools were closed across Ohio and officials warned people to stay inside if possible Monday as the state braced for a blast of dangerously cold weather.

The Xenia Board of Education even delayed Monday’s reorganization meeting until tonight (Tuesday) beginning at 6 p.m.

All five local major universities — Wright State, University of Dayton, Cedarville University, Central State and Wilberforce University were also closed Monday. Across the state, Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Miami University and the University of Toledo also closed as temperatures in the state were expected to be the coldest in more than two decades. Ohio State, the state’s largest university, hasn’t shut down because of the cold since 1994.

Snow emergencies were in effect in most of Ohio’s 88 counties, with school and most local activities canceled for Monday. Although most of Greene County got a lot of rain — some freezing — and a bit of snow, much of the rest of the state also got several inches of snow overnight, making for a messy commute for those who braved the weather and went to work.

According to Cindy Antrican, public affairs manager for AAA Allied Group for the Miami Valley, the AAA Roadside Rescue Team has responded to more than 1,000 calls for help from stranded motorists in the Miami Valley area since Friday.

“The team is now preparing for the wintry weather and sub-zero temperatures in anticipation of a heavy call volume (dead batteries, lockouts and slide-offs, especially),” Antrican said. “Our drivers will be in early tomorrow (Monday) morning at 5, loading trucks with batteries and other equipment to assist motorists.”

Forecasters say sub-zero low temperatures and even more frigid “feel-like” are possible through Wednesday when, according to WDTN’s weather team, temperatures will reach a high of 22 degrees after starting with a low of zero. A chance of snow returns on Thursday with rain or snow forecast for Friday.

Lorna West, a 43-year-old student and consultant from Columbus, said she doesn’t believe residents of Ohio and other areas unaccustomed to brutal temperatures and winds are ready for what’s coming.

West, a Chicago native, said thermal underwear, lots of layers and “Eskimo coats” with zipped hoods to block the wind were the norm growing up. “And don’t go out if you don’t have to.”

“If they’re right about this, this is going to be serious,” she said. “Your car can freeze, your locks can freeze. If you’re a native Ohioan and you’re not used to this kind of thing, and if the weatherman is right, you’re in for a rude awakening.”

Antrican said AAA offers these tips and more for motorists:

  • Make sure your battery has ample starting power. At 0 degrees Fahrenheit, your battery loses about 35 percent of its power and your engine needs 2.5 times more power to start than on a warm summer day.
  • Check your tire pressure to prevent a flat. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, you lose one pound of tire pressure.
  • Park your car in the garage. If you have no garage, select a place that is protected from wind and large snow drifts.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid fuel-line freeze-up. Adding a can of gas line deicer periodically is a good idea.
  • Pack a winter survival kit with such items as blankets, extra clothing, scraper, shovel, flashlight and battery cables.

See the story about traveling in cold weather from AAA in this edition for more tips.

Many flights at the state’s major airports were delayed or canceled. Most of the arrivals and departures from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were scratched Monday morning.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency warned people to stay inside Monday if possible, check on their neighbors and make sure fireplaces and other heating sources are properly vented.

The cold snap is due to “polar vortex” that descended into much of the U.S. on Monday, bringing dangerous cold that could break decades-old records and wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama.


Associated Press writers Mitch Stacy and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.

Contact William Duffield at bduffield@civitasmedia.com or 937-372-4444 ext. 133.

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