Jennifer Edwards Baker reports:
UPDATE: 9:44 a.m. - A major winter storm socked Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky overnight, dumping heavy snow across roads and closing hundreds of schools and businesses Wednesday.
Anywhere from 3 to 7 inches of snow blanketed our region, with the most north of metro Cincinnati, in Butler and Warren counties.
As of 7:30 a.m., 4.3 inches of snow was recorded at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
It’s a frigid 29 degrees with a wind chill of 17.
Most areas in Hamilton, Clermont, Butler and Warren counties have 4.5 to 5.5 inches of snow, said meteorologist Seth Binau.
Greater Cincinnati AAA had extra drivers out helping motorists this morning. Since midnight, they’ve responded to 140 calls, mostly from drivers north of the city who slid off roads, said AAA spokeswoman Cheryl Parker.
“We advise drivers to slow down, leave a safe distance between vehicles and stay focused because there are slick spots,” she said.
Light flurries will drift down throughout the day. The high temperature will be 34 degrees, and it will be mostly cloudy, Hickman said.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for the entire region until 1 p.m., but the weather service expects it to be cancelled early.
“By 1 p.m., road conditions will be pretty good,” Binau said.
Road crews also worked through the night in Butler County, where most county roads are passable this morning, said Scott Bressler with the Butler County Engineer’s Office.
The northwest section of the county saw the most snow, especially up in Oxford and Madison Township, where 6 inches fell, he said.
“Everything is being plowed and salted. The roads are still snow-covered, of course, but until the wind dies down and the sun comes out and we get a little traffic on the roads, people are just going to need to be careful as they drive on them,” he said at 6 a.m.
There were multiple accidents overnight in Boone County but the crashes have slowed down starting about 5 a.m., Boone County dispatchers said. At 6:45 a.m. two lanes of southbound I-71/75 near Mt. Zion Road were closed as crews worked to unload the tractor trailer that jack-knifed earlier Wednesday. The highway is now clear.
Around the city of Cincinnati, the west side neighborhoods like College Hill were hit harder by the snow than downtown and areas to the east, said Greg Courtland, operations supervisor in the public works department.
“The roads on the west side are still snow covered,” he said at 5:30 a.m. “Right now it’s a little slushy.”
Fifty-two snow plows worked through the night to clear the city’s main thoroughfares. Those efforts will continue this morning. Road crews won’t get to residential streets until later today, he said.
“Once our day shift gets in and finishes cleaning up what we didn’t get to, they will start on the residential streets.”
Schools closed, delayed
Most schools are closed or operating on delays. Cincinnati Public Schools, Lakota and Princeton are closed. So are schools in Campbell, Boone and Kenton County in Northern Kentucky.
North College Hill is starting classes two hours later today.
The University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State Technical & Community College are closed. Northern Kentucky University will open at 10 a.m.
Traffic snarls, power outages reported
By 4 a.m., traffic problems were popped up across areas highways.
Three semi-tractor trailers are reported to be jackknifed in three separate crashes: on northbound I-75 between Cincinnati-Dayton and Tylersville roads in Butler County, on southbound I-71/75 near Mt. Zion Road in Boone County and on eastbound I-74 near Ohio 128 in western Hamilton County. The I-74 crash involves a fuel spill, but it’s not clear yet much, a dispatcher said just before 5 a.m.
Several lanes of traffic are shut down in those locations, and some injuries have been reported.
Scattered, minor power outages also are trickling in. As of 5 a.m., just over 1,000 customers were without power across the region, mostly in Grant and Butler counties, according to Duke Energy’s website.
Public transportation operating
Metro bus service is operating on schedule with one detour so far this morning on Route 31, the Hackberry Loop. Also, the XTRA service that Metro operates on days when Cincinnati Public Schools are in session will not operate today because the district is closed, said Jill Dunne, a Metro spokeswoman.
For more information on bus detours and schedules, go to Metro’s website: www.go-metro.com.
This will wind up being the biggest snowfall of the winter, the weather service predicts.
So far, the biggest snowfall event was Dec. 28-29, when 3.6 inches was recorded at CVG.
Most winters, an average of 19.1 inches of snow falls. As of this morning, a total of 20.5 inches has accumulated.
Enjoy the white wonderland while it lasts.
The mercury will shoot into the 50s by Saturday with plenty of sun as spring-like temperatures finally emerge this month of March.
Staff reporter Bowdeya Tweh contributed to this report