Jennifer Edwards Baker reports:
Road crews worked through the night clearing streets of ice and snow after the worst storm Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have seen in nearly two years swept through Wednesday, prompting blizzard warnings, two traffic fatalities and the rare “thundersnow” phenomenon.
Morning commuters undoubtedly will grapple with icy roads as they head into work today.
Wet, slushy streets likely refroze overnight unless they were treated and plowed. In the city of Cincinnati, primary arteries like Columbia Parkway, Reading Road and Colerain Avenue take priority over secondary and residential streets.
Slush on the road and continuing precipitation will become “increasingly problematic as pavement and temperatures drop below freezing later this evening,” city officials wrote in a press release.“It just came down pretty fast,” said Jarrod Bolden, superintendent of Cincinnati’s traffic and road operations. “It’s just one of those things. Sometimes we can’t move it as fast as it falls.”
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The storm dumped 1 to 3 inches across most of the region, with the most snowfall reported in Oxford, where 6 inches piled up, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
Officially, 2.8 inches was recorded at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron.
Elsewhere, 2 inches fell in suburban communities like Mason, Lebanon and West Chester Township.
The weather event, the first measurable snowfall of the season, was the result of a vigorous low pressure system in Texas that skimmed the southern Ohio Valley.
It’s been awhile since our region has dealt with a major winter storm, not since 5.6 inches accumulated Jan. 21, 2011, at CVG, meteorologist Jim Lott said.
Last winter was the 13th warmest on record for the region and the 6th snowiest ever, with just 3.7 inches recorded during the months of December, January and February.
The weekend could bring more snow. There’s a 40 percent chance at about 7 p.m. Friday night and a 60 percent chance through 4 p.m. Saturday. So far, forecasters are predicting up to 1 inch total.
Two people died on area roads Wednesday. An 18-year-old woman was killed when she lost control of her car on southbound Interstate 71 just south of the Fields Ertel Road exit in Symmes Township just after 3 p.m., according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
The vehicle struck median cables and then the blade of an Ohio Department of Transportation snow plow in the median before careening into oncoming, northbound traffic.
She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name was not released.
Earlier, 28-year-old Nora Green of Corbin, Ky. died in a two-vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 75 in Grant County.
At the height of the storm, winds gusted about 40 mph and more than 1,700 Duke Energy customers were without power, mostly in Butler County where a blizzard warning was in effect most of the day.
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 1 snow advisory warning drivers roads were snow-covered and hazardous.
Residents in northern Butler County also likely saw and felt “thundersnow” reported about 9:30 a.m. in neighboring Springboro and Miamisburg, said meteoroloist Andy Lattos.
Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, is an extremely rare thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain, he explained.
Meanwhile, over in Northern Kentucky, at least 20 flight were canceled and another 23 were delayed at CVG.
Flight schedules can change quickly when the weather is unpredictable, so airport spokeswoman Molly Flanagan asked all passengers to call their airline before going to CVG. Flight statues can also be checked at www.cvgairport.com.
“It has been kind of quiet, which has been good for us,” Flanagan said.
The airport averages about 180 flights on its peak days.
Turfway Park in Florence canceled live racing due to inclement weather. The facility remained open for simulcast wagering.
Live racing should resume today with a special holiday week first post time of 1:10 p.m.