Weather

Warm weather melts away need for long snowplow shifts

(Editor’s Note: Who would have thought winter would have ended so abruptly? After spending a couple hours in a city snowplow during the last “snow emergency,” the story sat in my notebook for more than a week as I waited for another snowy day. However, since the forecast is calling for spring-like temperatures for the next 10 days, I decided to post this now before summer-like weather arrives. Many thanks to Chris Mendieta for letting me ride shotgun for a couple hours, pushing me up into the truck when I got stuck midway, and for keeping the heat cranked up in the truck that morning.)   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While much of Bowling Green sleeps, Chris Mendieta and his fellow city workers rumble past our homes to clear a path for us to get to work, school, wherever. It’s easy for citizens to complain about untouched side streets, or plowed in driveways. But few of them have sat in the same driver’s seat as Mendieta, high up in the 1999 snowplow. By 7 a.m., he has already been working on clearing streets since midnight, with another five hours until his shift ends. Mendieta’s route is Ward 1, and a portion of Ward 2. That means he has to squeeze the big truck through the narrow East Side streets like Reed and Merry. “These are really tight streets,” he said as he swung the truck onto Leroy Avenue. “These are big trucks to get through here.” The “snow emergency” has not yet been declared on this day, so the streets are still littered with parked cars. Mendieta points out the nicked utility poles on the opposite side of the road from parked cars. “You take your time,” but sometimes the plow scrapes up the poles in the driver’s attempt to avoid the cars, he said. The snow is coming down in big wet flakes as Mendieta turns onto North Enterprise. “I was just down this section an hour ago. You can’t even tell I was here,” he said. The goal in this kind of heavy snow is to make the busy streets passable, and dump salt at intersections, railroad crossings and on overpasses. Smaller streets and tidying up road surfaces will have to wait, he explained. Driving a snowplow takes concentration…


Keep an eye on rising rivers

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following weather advisory: Light to sometimes moderate rain will continue through the morning hours before tapering off early this afternoon. Colder temperatures will also be moving into the area today and will mix with more precipitation from another storm system moving across Southeast Ohio tonight and tomorrow morning. A wintry mix will be possible late tonight and into the drive times Thursday morning. Conditions may become slippery with some freezing rain and sleet. Higher chances of mixed precipitation will be to our southeast (Akron to Mansfield to Lima). At this hour, the Portage River is cresting around 10.77 feet which is minor flood stage. Because of the current rain, the crest will likely last a little longer than normal; however, no major increases in river levels are anticipated at this time. At this hour, the Maumee River at Grand Rapids continues to rise. Mayor Berry reports that flood prone areas such as the campgrounds and park are beginning to fill with water. Forecast models indicate the river cresting in the minor flood stage; however, a lot of rain has fallen in the upper Maumee River basin in Northeast Indiana, so we will need to continue to monitor the Maumee River for days to come. Another weaker storm system will impact the area Friday through Sunday with mostly rain; however, Friday morning may also see a wintry mix at times. Please use extra caution when driving Thursday and Friday mornings.


Heavier snow on its way

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: The next storm system will move into the area after midnight Thursday night/Friday morning.  This will be a longer duration snowfall which will last through the early morning hours of Saturday.  Heavier snow bands are likely by late Friday morning and into the afternoon hours.  With the current projected path, the heavier snow (6”+ of new snow) will be north of the Maumee River and that area is currently under a Winter Storm WATCH.  Areas south of the Maumee River (including Wood County) are currently forecasted to be in the 3”-5” range.  Areas south of the Maumee River will likely have a Winter Weather ADVISORY issues by Thursday evening if the current forecasted storm path holds true. As the above information indicates, Wood County is very close to the heavier (6”+) forecasted snow area.  With snowfall still 38 hours away and there is always the potential for a slight change in the forecasted path of the storm, everyone should be prepared for the potential of heavier snow from this storm system should a slight change to the south occur.  It would only take 20 miles to the south of a change in the forecasted storm path to put Wood County into the heavier snow totals, so it is important to monitor local media and weather radios for the latest weather information over the next 48 hours. And yes, there is another likelihood of accumulating snow on Sunday…potentially heavier snowfall.  Again, please check with local media and weather radios over the weekend for the latest information on Sunday’s storm system.


Winter weather update on week’s second storm

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: The next storm system will impact Ohio overnight tonight (Feb. 6) and into at least the first half of Wednesday.  Snow will begin well after midnight tonight and begin to taper off by early afternoon on Wednesday.  Expected snowfall is around 2” total for this storm.  Once again, Northeast, Central, and Southeast Ohio will see the biggest impacts from this storm with 4”+ expected in those areas.  Obviously, this storm will have more of a solid impact on the Wednesday morning commute due to falling snow.  Winds are not expected to be an issue with this storm system. We are still monitoring the Thursday night/Friday storm system.  At this time it is starting to look like a few inches of new snow, but the exact path is still underdetermined, so forecasted snow totals could still go up or down.


Keep your snow shovels handy

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: A very active storm tract through the Ohio Valley and the Lower Great Lakes will bring three storm systems with accumulating snow to our area this week. Storm No. 1 will move into the area late this evening and into the overnight hours.  1.5”-2” of fluffy type snow can be expected.  Tuesday morning’s commute may be slippery. Storm No. 2 will move into the area late Tuesday evening and into the morning hours of Wednesday.  0.5”-1.5” of new snowfall can be expected.  Wednesday morning’s commute will likely be slippery as well.  (Heavier snow in Central/Southern Ohio and into NE Ohio) Storm No. 3 will move into the are late Thursday and possibly continue into the early weekend.  This will be a strong storm system that will have the potential for heavy snow; however, the exact storm path is not known yet, so we will continue to monitor this storm as it develops and moves across the country.  Again, this storm may have more significant snowfall if the storm path puts the heavier snow bands across NW Ohio.  More information on this storm later in the week.


Use extra caution when traveling Friday

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: New data show snow totals for tomorrow to be about in-line with what we provided this morning with a slight tendency for maybe an addition inch especially more south and east in the county.  Rain will change to freezing rain around sunrise then a change over to snow late morning and early afternoon.  Heaviest snow rates will be in the mid afternoon hours.  A Winter Weather Advisory will be in place for Friday.  Please use extra caution when traveling on Friday.


Winter weather update

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director, has issued the following advisory: As most of you may have seen by now, forecast models came into agreement last night and pushed the heavy snow band to NE Ohio down through Columbus and Cincinnati (I think making most of us happy).  Although there may be some minor changes in the forecast by later this afternoon, the following is a general timeline of the winter weather that we will experience on Friday. Rain will move into the area this afternoon and evening and continue into the overnight.  Temperatures will begin to drop towards daybreak Friday morning starting to turn the rain over to freezing rain and sleet.  By late morning, the freezing rain should start to transition over to all snow.  Snow will continue through the afternoon and possibly into the evening.  Accumulations will be around 2 inches in the Northern Wood County area with slightly higher amounts of 2-3 inches in Central and Southern Wood County.  Please keep in mind that winds will also become gusty, so blowing and drifting of snow will be likely right into Saturday morning.


Weekend winter storm in the offing

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: EMA is monitoring a strong storm system that is moving across the country that will impact NW Ohio by Friday afternoon and into Saturday.  This is a classic winter storm that will move across the middle of the country and pick up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico while cold Canadian air gets pulled into the backside of the storm system.  Forecast models are NOT consistent at this time as to the exact path of the storm system.  One model puts the heavier snow to our west through Indiana and another model puts the heavier snow to our east across NE Ohio and Western Pennsylvania (obviously if you average the two, NW Ohio is right in the middle).  Snow amounts are not known yet other than there will be accumulating snow.  Once forecast models start to agree, we should have a better idea where the heavy snow bands will set up.  We will continue to monitor this situation, but I wanted to give you early notice of the potential for a sizable snowfall the end of this week into the early weekend. Enjoy the spring-like temperatures Wednesday and Thursday!


Senior center to open as ‘warming center’ Saturday

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After driving slick roads to deliver hot lunches to local seniors, Denise Niese found herself Thursday evening at Gordon Foods stocking up for some unscheduled guests this weekend. For the first time in 17 years, Niese, director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, is preparing to open the Wood County Senior Center as a warming station for local senior citizens on the weekend. “It’s the first time that I’ve been here that it’s been this cold for this long,” Niese said after she wrapped up her grocery shopping. The senior center, at 305 N. Main St., Bowling Green, has been opened in the past as a cooling center in the summers when the heat index reaches 100 or above. But when Niese returned from delivering meals on Thursday, she was approached by several people at the senior center about opening the facility up on Saturday as a warming station. The center is normally closed on the weekends. Niese agreed and went a step further. “I asked them what they wanted for lunch,” she said. So after work, she was at the grocery getting ingredients for stuffed pepper soup, “real potato soup,” grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. “I’ll be peeling potatoes tomorrow,” Niese said. She has no idea how many seniors to expect. “I am planning for 50.” Normal lunch time at the senior center on weekdays draws about 85 people in search of a hot meal, conversation and maybe a game of cards. The weather this week cut that number to about 60 each day. The senior center also delivers approximately 550 meals a day to seniors’ homes throughout the county. “We’ll get all the meals out this week,” Niese said. While the staff delivers the meals, they also make sure the seniors have their “shelf meals” that were dispersed this fall, and can be eaten if the power goes out. They also make sure there are a couple frozen meals that can be warmed up in the microwave or oven just in case the daily meals can’t be delivered. As the senior center deals with the challenges of the cold weather, it is also facing a double whammy of staff illnesses. “I had nine people off today with the flu,” Niese said. That…


Bitter cold takes toll on city workers and equipment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents count on city workers to plow snow off the roads, respond to car crashes, and keep the power on during winter weather. Doing that in bitter cold weather takes a toll on city equipment and on the people that operate it. Snow plow blades are more likely to break in this cold, police cruisers have to run continuously during shifts, and fire hoses have been known to freeze. “We subject our officers to being out in the elements for extended periods,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. That’s tough on people and patrol cars. Layering only does so much, and “they run constantly in the cold,” the chief said of the police cruisers. For the Fire Division, the frigid cold means EMS crews must move even faster for outside calls. “We need to move quickly to get patients out of the elements,” Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said. Firefighting is especially tricky in freezing temperatures. “We have to keep them flowing,” Sanderson said of the hoses. But that means the ground quickly gets covered in ice. The city’s public works department often spreads salt at winter fire scenes to try to give firefighters and their vehicles some traction. “We haven’t had to chisel our fire hose out of the ice yet this week,” Sanderson said. Public works crews face their own problems, with the extreme cold taking a toll on equipment, according to Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter. Snow plow blades tend to break very easily, she said. And trash containers become increasingly brittle and are more prone to breaking, she added. The city utilities department recommends its consumer-owners take the following precautions to help prevent water lines and meters from freezing this winter: Protect exposed pipes from cold air drafts by closing and sealing windows and openings in basements or crawlspaces. Protect your water meter by wrapping it with insulation or a blanket. Provide proper insulation for walls and pipes where necessary. If your water meter is in the garage, take precautions to protect it and keep the garage door closed. If pipes cannot be shielded from the cold or the residence has a history of frozen water lines or meters, run a small stream of cold water from an indoor faucet to keep water moving…


Light snow & frigid temps in the forecast for Wood County

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: A “clipper” type storm system will move just to our south tonight and into the early morning hours of Saturday.  The heavier snow bands will stay well south of Wood County; however, light snow will fall across Wood County tonight as a result of this storm system.  2” or less will fall across the area by Saturday morning which is enough to make roads slippery once again, so please use extra caution when driving tonight and early Saturday morning.  3” – 5” of snow will fall across west central and central Ohio with this storm system if you plan on traveling south tonight or tomorrow.  Those areas are under a Winter Weather Advisory.  Very cold arctic air will once again move into the area behind this storm system creating a dry but very cold New Years weekend.  Please check on elderly neighbors, pets, and other functional needs people this weekend as temperatures plumet below zero once again.


How to protect people, pets and pipes against the cold

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   We might as well get used to it. The cold dipped down to minus 4 degrees early this morning, and temperatures aren’t expected to get to 20 or above for another week. For some, the frigid temperatures are more than a cause for discomfort. The brittle cold can lead to burst pipes, frozen paws, frostbitten fingers and car problems. Some professionals in Bowling Green accustomed to dealing with the complications of cold weather offered some advice on how to protect people, pets, pipes and vehicles during these frigid temperatures. First, how people can prevent harm to themselves … “I wouldn’t be out more than a half hour at a time,” said Kevin Hosley, registered nurse at Wood County Hospital Emergency Department. And bundle up. “Any exposed skin should be covered.” People with lung problems or the elderly should avoid being out in this brittle cold, Hosley added. The most serious risk to humans is hypothermia, when the body’s temperature drops dangerously low, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. “Basically, your body starts to lose heat faster than it can replace it,” Aspacher said. One symptom of hypothermia is confusion, so “somebody might not know they have it,” he added. Hunters and homeless people are susceptible, but in these frigid temperatures some people are at risk even if they aren’t outside. Especially vulnerable are babies or older people in very cold homes. “Older people lose body heat faster” and babies aren’t able to generate heat the way others can to keep themselves warm, Aspacher said. If hypothermia is suspected, the person’s temperature should be taken. If below 95 degrees, 911 should be called, he said. Any wet clothing should be removed, and the person should be placed in a warm room and bundled in blankets – an electric blanket if available. The other risk with the cold is frostbite, when skin is exposed, commonly on the face, hands and feet. Aspacher explained that in frigid weather, the body prioritizes which areas to keep warm, so the extremities are likely to suffer first. If frostbite is suspected, the area should be warmed with an electric blanket or warm water – not hot water, Aspacher cautioned. The frostbitten areas should not be massaged, and…


White Christmas in the forecast

A white Christmas is possible based on a weather updated from Bradley Gilbert, Wood County EMA director. Gilbert reports: “Two storm systems will impact our area this weekend.  Both will bring a chance of accumulating snow.  The storm tracks have shifted slightly since last night. “Details are as follows: “A storm system will move to the southeast of NW Ohio late tonight into Saturday morning.  Snow on the northwest side of the storm will just barely impact Wood County bringing a dusting of snow to around 1” in some areas (especially southeast Wood County) by mid-day Saturday. “Another storm system will impact NW Ohio Sunday afternoon and evening.  Snow accumulation on Sunday will be 1” – 3”.  Christmas day will start out cloudy with some areas of sunshine by late morning and into the afternoon with colder temperatures.” Arctic cold will settle into the area for Tuesday through most of the week.


Wood County to get as much as four or more inches of snow

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: “A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Wood County until midnight tonight.  Stronger areas of snow have been developing across Northern Indiana over the past couple of hours and should be into the Wood County area around 5:00 – 5:30 p.m.  There will be periods of moderate snowfall with some periods of light to no snow in between snow bands through about 10 p.m. this evening.  The NWS is forecasting 3” – 4” across the Wood County area this evening with pockets of slightly higher amounts possible depending on where stronger snow bands move across the county.  If you have to travel this evening, please slow down and use extra caution as roadways and visibility may be challenging at times through the evening.”


Former BG family visited by hurricanes Harvey & Irma

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Sorrells family had two unwelcome guests in the past month – the first named Harvey, followed by Irma. “Stay away from us, we seem to be jinxed,” Larry Sorrells said on Saturday. Larry and Janet Sorrells, longtime Bowling Green residents, moved to Punta Gorda, Florida, in April. Their daughter Jennifer and her family live in Houston, Texas. As Hurricane Harvey approached, Jennifer, her spouse and their daughter, went to Austin for safety. “They were very lucky,” and their home suffered no damage, Larry Sorrells said. But as Larry and Janet Sorrells were worrying about Harvey’s wrath in Texas, Irma showed up on the radar. “We saw this thing for a long time,” but forecasters were uncertain where Irma was headed exactly. “We were glued to the TV” waiting for updates, Sorrells said. “We were watching the storm, and it’s a monster,” leveling some Caribbean islands on its way to Florida. Sorrells is accustomed to preparing for emergencies and public health crises. As the former health commissioner for Wood County, he spent years making sure the public was safe. But this was different. “This is our first hurricane, and maybe our last. I wouldn’t mind that,” he said. “I have a lot of training in emergency preparedness,” Sorrells said. So he and Janet planned ahead and made hotel reservations in Atlanta, Georgia, and they prepared their home with storm shutters and other precautionary steps to be battered by Irma. “There’s a lot of stuff to get ready for these things so you don’t come home to an even bigger mess,” he said. When the evacuation order was issued, they were ready. “We knew not to stay in a mobile home during a hurricane,” he said. “Homes can be replaced, human lives can’t.” But their plans changed as it became almost impossible to get gas, and as the highways became blocked with traffic headed the one direction for safety – north. The Sorrells were also wanting to help out other neighbors in their retirement community in Punta Gorda. So they scrapped the Atlanta plans and instead sought shelter in Red Cross sites set up in Sarasota County. The first shelter they went to was not open. The second one was already full. The third one – an elementary…