ST. MARYS — In the wake of this week’s snow storm, local officials are urging motorists to keep informed as winter draws closer.
“It’s really important to listen to weather forecasts this time of year,” Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson said. “We try to put up notices early on our Facebook page early enough to catch them. We also don’t want people to think that if we put up a notice and we don’t get it that we are crying wolf.”
Anderson said this winter season could be a mirror image of last year because of the re-emergence of La Nina.
“It should almost be like last year — heavy snowfalls and cold temperatures,” Anderson said. “With that, it’s important to know the weather because the roads will get slick and in some spots, could be flooded.”
During this week’s storm, reports of vehicles in ditches flooded local law enforcement departments. If a motorist becomes stranded, Anderson said a winter safety kit could be vital.
“Put some extra things in your vehicle — an extra blanket, a small shovel and extra shoes,” Anderson said. “That way if you get stuck, you will have some way of keeping warm.”
To keep updated on local weather conditions, Anderson encouraged residents to check the EMA’s Facebook page or tune scanners to 155.805 or 442.075.
“Check the weather and plan accordingly,” Anderson said. “Drive slow and watch road conditions. The bridges will freeze first and those will be where the icy spots are that cause the accidents.”
Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart said the storm hit at a time when regular employees were leaving for the day. When crews hit the roads, they reported motorists in ditches and driving too aggressively for the conditions.
“Being the first event of the season, it’s important to realize that we all need to slow down and take more time in getting to your destinations,” Anderson said. “That slush was heavy and there were a lot of cars in the ditches and one of the problems our guys saw was people passing them as they were plowing.”
Reinhart said motorists need to give plows ample room to maneuver during snow events. Failing to do so could end up in a collision.
“We will pull to an intersection and back up several times to make sure it is cleared,” Reinhart said. “Don’t tailgate us and give us some space. We have to back up to clear the intersection properly.”