The Valley is digging itself out from a winter storm

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Residents of the Mahoning and Shenango valleys spent time today digging out from a winter storm that dumped anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of snow as well as a layer of ice.

And while the worst of the storm is over, it’s not going to be pretty the next few days.

The snow was supposed to taper off early today, but then there’s a chance of snow showers between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. with new snow accumulation of less than an inch, according to the National Weather Service.

Forget about the record high temperature of 62 degrees we enjoyed Thursday.

The high today is going to reach only about 19 degrees with a low of 3 tonight and wind chills as low as minus 3, the NWS says.

There’s no snow in the forecast for Sunday, but the high temperature is supposed to reach only about 16 with a low at night about 3.

There’s a 50 percent chance of snow Monday both around 8 a.m. and at night. The high temperature Monday will be near 25 with a low around 14.

There’s also a 50 percent chance of snow Tuesday before 8 a.m. with a high near 20 and a low at night around 5.

Large crowds flocked to area grocery stores, such as the Cornersburg Sparkle Market on Friday, to stock up before the snowstorm.

Mary Schlosser, head cashier at the market, said there were 2,000 customers at the store Thursday, compared with the typical 1,500 who shop daily.

More customers were waiting at the door when it opened Friday morning. The store was stocked in preparation for the crowds, said Alex Puncekar, assistant manager.

The store closed at 7 p.m. Friday, two hours earlier than their regular closing time. Puncekar said it was only the second time in nine years the store closed early in anticipation of a storm.

Customer Mike D’Amico of Canfield stocked up on enough food to last the weekend and, of course, beer for Sunday’s football games. He said he wanted to be prepared in case his family is stuck in the house over the weekend.

“We load up, especially because you don’t know how bad things are going to get. If you have the chance to be safe, you have to be safe,” D’Amico said.

The store ran out of bread before closing Friday but had a special delivery of milk to compensate for the greater number of shoppers.

First Energy spokesman Mark Durbin said the company has been monitoring the storm for several days.

First Energy has two meteorologists on staff who assess what impact the weather will have on operations, he said.

He said line workers are put on notice in situations like this and work 16-hour shifts when large-scale outages occur.

He noted, too, that First Energy attempts to prevent outages by investing money “throughout the year to make our system as resilient as possible.”

Durbin said ice storms can pose a challenge because ice will accumulate not only on utility equipment, but on things such as trees limbs, which then will fall onto lines and cause outages. It also could pose logistical challenges for workers going out to make repairs.

“We’ve been doing this for 100 years as far as providing electric in Northeast Ohio,” he said. “We see it coming, and now it’s just a matter of where it’s going and at what severity” and directing resources accordingly.

He urged customers who experience an outage to report it by calling 1-888-LIGHTSS.

At the nearby Brandywine Apartment complex, landlord Craig Tareshawty warned residents to stay inside over the weekend. He posted a notice telling residents to be prepared by bundling up and wearing extra layers in case there is an electric outage from the storm.

An outage would prevent the 556 units from being heated, which could be dangerous as temperatures decrease.

“We are an all-electric complex, so if electricity goes out, we are in a world of hurt. We would be at the mercy of Ohio Edison,” he said.

Pennsylvania State Police said a tractor-trailer clogged traffic on Interstate 80 by the 11-mile marker during the storm. The truck blocked Mercer County traffic for about 30 minutes, and then was moved.

“We have 24 [salt truck and plowing] routes and all are covered,” said Tom Klejka, highway superintendent for Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith. “As soon as they see an ice situation, they will go out.”

He said it’s wise to have drivers in place for a freezing-rain situation because it takes time to get to the farthest reaches of the county, such as Kinsman or Hubbard.

“People can drive on snow. They can’t drive on ice,” he said.

The weather played havoc with events and has communities asking residents to keep roads clear.

Youngstown State University canceled classes today.

Youngstown issued a parking ban in effect until further notice. During a snow emergency, parking is prohibited on all streets except streets and alleys having a width of 25 feet or less and providing no driveways.

Hubbard has a parking ban until 7 p.m. today.

Boardman Township has a parking ban until 4 p.m. today.

All libraries in the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County system closed at 3 p.m. Friday and remain closed until noon today.

Newton Falls is under a parking ban until 1 p.m. today.

Brookfield Township declared a snow emergency until 6 p.m. today.

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