June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Weather woes, accidents pound Medina County

Ice on Medina’s Public Square brought smiles to faces throughout the weekend at the 17th annual Ice Festival, but ice and snow made roads treacherous for Medina County drivers Monday.

“It’s pretty bad over here. We’re going crazy with crashes,” a dispatcher at the Medina post of the Ohio Highway Patrol said Monday afternoon.

Viewed from a driver’s-side mirror, traffic backs up on North Court Street in Medina as a winter storm moves through the area Monday afternoon. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LIZ SHEAFFER)

Viewed from a driver’s-side mirror, traffic backs up on North Court Street in Medina as a winter storm moves through the area Monday afternoon. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LIZ SHEAFFER)

Joyce Miller, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 3, said the agency had 18 plows working throughout Medina County.

“Unfortunately, the snow came in so fast and so steady early (Monday) afternoon. It just pounded us,” she said, noting that motorists should leave plenty of room between their cars and plows.

“Some (plow) drivers right now are having a hard time getting around traffic as they need to salt and plow,” she said.

Visibility was low throughout much of the area as a passing storm dumped several inches of snow in parts of Medina County. Stranded vehicles and accidents, most of them minor, dotted the roadways and slowed down traffic.

A Wadsworth police dispatcher said Interstate 76 eastbound in the Wadsworth and Seville areas came to a halt late Monday afternoon due to an accident. Traffic was crawling along state Route 18 in Medina and Montville townships and Medina city for much of the afternoon.

“We shouldn’t even be here. I canceled winter,” Medina Service Director Nino Piccoli joked. He said his crews had been working throughout the day Monday to get ice and snow off the streets.

Jeff Pontius, a dispatcher with the Medina County Highway Department, said crews only had a short break between the ice storm Sunday night and Monday’s snow.

“We’ll be going until at least after dark and then start again early in the morning,” he said.

The wintry mix began Sunday evening with freezing rain as temperatures hovered just above freezing.

“It’s just that transition time of the year where you’re going to see nice warm days and the next it gets a lot colder,” said Kristen Schuler, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Cleveland office.

Schuler said the storm was caused by an area of low pressure over Indiana.

The ice turned to snow once the temperatures dipped below freezing, she said. Areas to the south, including Wadsworth, saw some of the worst snow Monday afternoon.

Most local school districts didn’t have to worry about calling a snow day Monday due to the Presidents Day holiday.

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However, Black River Schools had planned to have school Monday in order to make up for previous missed days. The district already has called six calamity days, while it only can take three without making up classes.

Superintendent Janice Wyckoff said the roads were too bad Monday morning to have school.

“Our biggest problem is we have so many back roads, dirt roads and very small township roads. Anything that was not treated was very slick,” she said.

Plus, weather forecasts showed the area would be getting a deluge of snow just as classes were to let out for the day.

The district now plans to make up missed days on June 3, 6 and 7.

“And the way things are looking right now, it’ll be June 8, too,” she said Monday afternoon. She said she would be up at 4 a.m. today to decide whether to cancel classes.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.