Jennifer Edwards Baker and Janice Morse report:
A weather advisory is now calling for 2 to 4 inches of snow to blanket the region by Sunday morning, a bit more than predicted earlier, the National Weather Service says.An earlier forecast had predicted a total of 1 inch to 3 inches. But an updated advisory, issued just after 3 p.m. today, calls for an extra inch or so, on top of the snow that fell Thursday night, creating an icy, slippery mess on roadways.
Frigid, colder-than-normal temperatures are still being predicted. The high later today will only creep to 14 with a wind chill of -5. That is well below the normal high of 49 degrees for this time of year, thanks to a blast of Canadian air coupled with strong winds from the west.
On Saturday, snow is expected to begin spreading into eastern Indiana and western Ohio before daybreak Saturday, then continuing across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky during the morning.
“Steady snow will continue through the day with much of the accumulation occurring during that time,” the advisory says, which is in effect for the region from 4 a.m. Saturday until 7 a.m. Sunday. Flurries are expected to continue “on and off into Saturday night,” the advisory said, dropping about one more inch of snow.
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The weather service reminds motorists that a winter weather advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. “Be prepared for snow-covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving,” the advisory says.
As a result of Thursday night’s frigid temperatures and a sudden burst of snowfall onto wet roads, most areas were covered by at least an inch of snow, turning roadways treacherous Thursday night and this morning.
The situation proved challenging for road crews.
“Sometimes snow comes in a little heavier than expected,” said Sharon Smiegielski, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation. “As soon as we realized we needed to get somebody out there, we did.”
More than 70 truck drivers worked 16-hour shifts clearing Greater Cincinnati roadways, she said.
Despite those efforts, cars spun out all over during morning rush hour on Interstate 275 in Milford and the Cross County Ronald Reagan Highway near the Galbratih Road exit.
Northbound 71 in Lebanon at Ohio 48 was shut down for four hours after a pickup truck hauling a trailer full of siding crashed on the icy highway about 4 a.m. One lane opened to traffic about 8 a.m. and the highway fully reopened by 9:30 a.m.
“It’s like a skating rink out there,” said a dispatcher with the patrol’s Lebanon post.
“The roads weren’t doing too bad until they refroze overnight when it got down so low,” said Lee Lewis, one of Warren County’s road supervisors. “The wind caused a lot of drifting and blowing of the snow. When the sun comes up it should melt the ice and snow. It really heats up the blacktop and helps a lot.”
Cincinnati’s AAA office said they had more than 119 calls for service between midnight and 8 a.m., mostly for dead vehicle batteries. Others were for motorists whose vehicles slid off slick roads.
That’s about ten times the normal amount of calls for service on any given Friday morning, said Cheryl Parker, AAA spokeswoman.
“We brought in extra drivers earlier today to prepare, as we really have all winter because we’ve had cold and snow, so we are ready to respond,” she said. “We have 29 drivers on the road and that will increase as the day progresses.”
Metro buses are running across the region, but several used detours this morning including two routes in Clifton, a hilly neighborhood, an agency spokeswoman said. To check your route, go to www.go-metro.com, or call 513-632-7538.
Officials at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport said they were operating as usual.
Turfway Park canceled live racing today because of single-digit wind chill temperatures forecast for the evening racing hours. The facility will remain open for simulcast wagering. Live racing is expected to resume as scheduled, Saturday at 1:10 p.m.
Highway crews in Kentucky were called in Thursday night to treat the roads when the predicted flurries turned into accumulating snow, said Nancy Wood, Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman. In the more southern counties of Grant and Pendleton, crews started had earlier because more snow was predicted there.
A jackknifed tractor-trailer closed southbound Interstate 75 in Grant County about 7 a.m., State Police dispatchers said.
An Ohio State Highway Patrol cruiser was struck by a pickup truck that slid out of control on icy I-75 at Tylersville Road in West Chester Township about 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
The trooper managed to jump out of the way and was not injured, according to the patrol’s Hamilton post.She had stopped along the highway to help another driver who wrecked in the bad conditions.
Brenna Kelly contributed to this report