MOUNT VERNON — Knox County was quickly blanketed with snow Wednesday, resulting in early school dismissals and slow-moving traffic throughout the area.
Knox County Sheriff David Barber issued a Level 2 snow emergency at 2:35 p.m. Wednesday. A Level 2, according to Barber’s press release, means “roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways.”
Road crews worked throughout the night to keep city and county roads safe.
Mount Vernon streets are “snow covered but passable,” Dave Carpenter, Mount Vernon Streets Department superintendent, said this morning. Although only three trucks are currently operable, Carpenter hopes to have six trucks out today.
“We normally have seven trucks out,” he said. “We are just facing routine issues that we have when we are out plowing snow, things like a transmission leak.”
Despite the shortage of plow trucks, crews were able to take care of the first priority streets, such as the main roads and streets with hills. With that accomplished, Carpenter said crews will start work today on the secondary or residential streets.
“Streets aren’t going to be cleared today, maybe not until tomorrow. It will take some sun on them to get down to bare streets,” Carpenter said. “We have some that are bare now, but not much.”
With temperatures well below freezing, traditional road salt does nothing to clear the streets of snow and ice.
Carpenter said the city is using a 50-50 mixture of salt and No. 9 gravel, which is small, pea-like gravel, on areas where necessary. The application will help with traction and will melt snow and ice once temperatures start to rebound and the sun shines.
The public is reminded that Mount Vernon has several streets that are deemed snow streets. When snow exceeds 3 inches, parking on these roads is prohibited allowing road crews the opportunity to clean from curb to curb.
“If [cars] aren’t moved, we just plow around them,” Carpenter said. “They get plowed in and that makes it pretty difficult to get the car out.”
Kate Stickle, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 5, said 11 crews were out since 4 p.m. Wednesday, and will continue to work around the clock.
“They are plowing, mostly,” Stickle said. “Areas that need salt get a salt and grit mixture; this is mostly on the less traveled roadways.”
Stickle said the biggest problem ODOT drivers are seeing on the roads is homeowners and business plowers pushing snow out onto the highway.
“When we have big storms like this, the public plows snow from their driveways out into the middle of the road, assuming plow drivers will clear it away. Our driver could have already come out and it could be another hour or so before they come back around. This becomes a safety hazard for other motorists.”
Although there is no official total for snowfall in the county, workers at ODOT’s Harcourt Road garage measured 8 inches of snow last night.
All Knox County schools, public and private, are closed today, in addition to the county’s Head Start schools. All branches of the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County are also closed today.
Morrow County Sheriff Steven R. Brenneman issued a Level 1 snow emergency for Morrow County.
For a complete listing of local closings, see www.mountvernonnews.com.