Area motorists, perhaps those headed to the stores hoping to take advantage of post-Christmas sales or those returning to the workplace, were in for an unpleasant surprise as they hit the roads Wednesday morning. Sleet, freezing rain and snow accumulation of more than 5 inches made for dangerous driving conditions across the roadways of Columbiana and Hancock counties.
The winter storm moved in quickly Wednesday morning, enveloping the area as it swirled its way up the Eastern coast of the United States from the south. It was a rough way to resume the work week for those driving, as rain turned to sleet and freezing rain early yesterday morning. What followed was a heavy dose of snowfall. And high winds and drifting snow also were factored in as road conditions worsened.
"To complicate matters, 15-20 mile per hour winds with gust of 35 mph will cause lots of blowing and drifting," advised Lee Hendricks of the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.
Traffic on Route 30 outside downtown East Liverpool slowed to a crawl after Wednesday morning’s winter storm made driving conditions treacherous. A wintry mix of freezing rain and snow fell on Columbiana County early Wednesday creating a scary commute for many after the Christmas holiday. The storm system is expected to continue moving out of the area today with little snow accumulation forecast. (Photo by Devin Bezeredi)
With a winter storm warning in effect until 6 a.m. today, meteorologists with National Weather Service were warning that the worst was yet to come as the day progressed Wednesday.
"A winter storm warning for snow means that heavy snowfall will make travel dangerous. If you must venture out at all ... use extreme caution," read the warning.
On its Facebook page, the county's Emergency Management Agency reported measuring four inches of snowfall at its Lisbon office around 2 p.m. Thursday.
According to dispatcher Pat Scafide of the East Liverpool Police Department, there had already been three auto accidents reported as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the East Liverpool area.
"The roads are terrible and we're having trouble with our plow trucks. Everyone should drive carefully," said Scafide.
A large winter storm system moving up from the South is to blame, according to weather experts.
"It moved up from the Louisiana coast, gradually turning into the East Coast," explained Hendricks. "What (your area) is experiencing is the wrap around on the back of the system."
Lighter snow showers along with sporadic freezing rain were expected to continue into last night. Today, the forecast calls for less accumulation with only a slight chance of snow showers before 4 p.m. However, winter temperatures are here to stay with a high of only 32.