A major snowstorm Wednesday wreaked havoc with roads and schedules by causing numerous accidents and closing some roads for periods due to poor conditions.
Just about every community in Trumbull County had some sort of snow ban in effect, barring the parking of cars on streets so plow drivers could keep up with the snowfall. The snow began Wednesday morning, changed to sleet about 2 p.m., and finally turned back to snow, tapering off in the evening.
By 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport recorded 6.9 inches of snow for the 24-hour period. A total of 6.4 inches had fallen the previous 25 days of December combined.
Tribune Chronicle / Dana Sulonen
Cars are stuck in traffic Wednesday on state Route 46 in Howland near Howland Corners. Heavy snowfalls and wind slowed traffic around the Valley, and led to dozens of fender-benders and cars in ditches.
The 13.3 inches for December tops the 12.4-inch average monthly snowfall by Dec. 26. A year ago, a total 5.8 inches had fallen by Dec. 26.
Some forecasts called for up to 15 inches of new snow in Trumbull County - depending on the path the storm takes - and from 8 to 13 inches in Mahoning County by today.
It all added up to a busy time for snow plow crews on Wednesday. Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said he had up to 23 workers in the Operations Department who are available for plow duty.
Because of last year's mild weather, the city was able to stockpile plenty of salt and other snow removal supplies, Cantalamessa said. He said the city is adding beet juice to its mixture, which should help curb slippage on the roads.
Cantalamessa said plow crews began preparing for Wednesday's weather on Christmas Night.
However, Valley police and fire departments remained busy as the snow and sleet made for slippery road conditions. Trumbull County 911 reported 69 vehicle accidents by Wednesday night, with 21 injuries. Austintown Police responded to 26 accidents, with no serious injuries reported.
Ohio State Highway Patrol posts in Warren and Canfield noted more than 20 crash reports, including two with injuries. The hazardous conditions were widespread, according to the Hiram's turnpike patrol post, which responded to 75 accidents over the course of the day with some minor injuries.
Accident calls started coming in about 10:30 a.m. as the snow began and highway patrol was backed up on calls by 11:30 a.m.
Lt. Brian Holt, head of the patrol's Warren Post in Southington, said he would advise people to take their time on the roads and not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary.
About that same time crews had calls for reports of cars losing control on U.S. Route 422 near Pace Pontiac and for a portion of time traffic was blocked off there so plows could clear the road.
Also in Weathersfield, the intersection at Salt Springs Road and state Route 46 was blocked so that crews could treat the roads heading north and south on state Route 46. There were reports of semis stopping in heavy snow and then getting stuck because they could not get going again and of police cruisers getting stuck in the snow also.
Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith said his drivers have preplanned routes, which could change depending on conditions and any emergencies that may crop up.
Smith said two highway superintendents are also on the roads to monitor conditions for county plow crews as well.
''It remains very fluid,'' Smith said.
He also added that his office has plenty of salt and other supplies.
''We're in good shape there,'' Smith said.
Linda Biel, head of the Trumbull County Emergency Management Agency, said she and other county officials would be having teleconferences throughout the day with representatives of the National Weather Service at the airport in Vienna.
She said people should have at least three days of basic supplies on hand in case the worst occurs.
At the airport, a spokeswoman said that there were no scheduled flights on Wednesday and the airport was open for normal operations.