By ASHLEY NEWMAN
WARREN - When the first of a series of snow storms expected over the next week rolled over the Mahoning Valley on Thursday, the white stuff was greeted by smiles from many locals looking to prolong their post-holiday cheer.
Stephany Elzy Smith and her family awakened Thursday morning seeing the snow as a great opportunity to spend some quality time together.
"The family wanted to come out for a family sled riding outing," Smith said as her husband, son and daughter took to the hills at Packard Park in Warren.
"They are having a blast," Smith said. "My son (Frankie Smith) is 23, but he's a big kid at heart."
Photo by R.Michael Semple
Jacqueline Orr of Howland, top, gives Danny Marker of Warren, middle, and Olivia Costantino, 17, of Cortland, a big push as the trio spent Thursday afternoon sled riding at Packard Park. More than 3 inches of new snow fell in Warren by late afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The wintry conditions are expected to continue today, with the wind chill reaching as low as -12.
The Smith family wasn't alone.
Crowds of children and adults braved the cold temperatures taking to their sleds at Packard Park, along with Waddell Park in Niles.
The National Weather Service in Cleveland reported the area had 3.4 inches of new snow by 5 p.m. Thursday, with more coming throughout the evening and overnight.
Closings so far
Local closings as of midnight Friday:
- Austintown Schools, closed today
- Creative Learning Workshop, closed today
- Holy Trinity Orthodox Christian Academy, closed today
- Hope Academy for Autism, and preschool, closed today
- St. Patrick - Hubbard School, closed today
- Trumbull Career and Technical Center, closed today
- Victory Christian School, closed today
- Warren City Schools, closed today
- Austintown Township parking ban: Until further notice
- Boardman parking ban: until 4 p.m. today
- Cortland parking ban: until noon today
- Girard parking ban: until noon today
- Howland parking ban: until 10 a.m. Saturday
- Hubbard city parking ban: until noon today
- Liberty parking ban: until 2 a.m. Saturday
- McDonald Village: until 3 p.m. today
- Niles parking ban: until further notice
- Warren parking ban: until further notice
- Weathersfield parking ban: until 3 p.m. today
- Youngstown parking ban: until further notice
Most schools were already closed Thursday for winter break, but Warren City Schools which was set to open Thursday, canceled classes both Thursday and today.
The Trumbull Career and Technical Center was open Thursday but sent students home early, with car riders leaving before noon and bus riders shortly after. TCTC canceled all adult education classes on Thursday afternoon and evening, and are closed today.
In Mahoning County, Austintown Local Schools were among those that called off classes for today.
Schools weren't the only ones affected by the wintry conditions, as many area businesses closed their doors early Thursday afternoon.
David Zemann is a retired Warren homeowner who works in his spare time as a maintenance worker for Pro Flooring of Warren Inc., which is near his home on Atlantic Avenue. Zemann spent the evening hours clearing the sidewalk, parking lot and driveway for local business.
"I wish I could be sled riding, trust me on that one," Zemann laughed. "It's not bad. You pace yourself and work within parameters. I don't think I'm doing too bad for being 66.
"The snow is dry and really powdery. Skiers would love it, I'd guess."
Meanwhile, difficult driving conditions made for a busy day for Trumbull County 911, according to officials. The call center dispatched crews to 40 non-injury crashes from midnight to about 8 p.m., and 30 accidents with injuries reported, though none considered serious.
"That's a little more than normal in a situation like this," Eric Luketic, supervisor of the 911 Center said. "Luckily, we haven't had any serious reports yet."
In addition, no serious injuries were reported by Ohio State Highway Patrol's Southington Post, though numerous crews were dispatched along state Route 5 and 11 in Trumbull County during the snowfall.
While the snowfall created some problems for schools, businesses and drivers, dangerously low temperatures could become the main concern today as the thermometer creeps into the single digits. More snow is also expected over the weekend.
The forecast has an additional 1 to 3 inches of snow possible by this morning, with a high of only 15 and lows around 2, and wind chill values as low as -12. While temperatures will increase to the lower 30s Saturday and Sunday wind chills will continue as low as -11.
Monday and Tuesday will see more cold temperatures with Monday forecasted for a high near 13 with lows around -11 and Tuesday high near 3 and low -4.
The weather has area shelters preparing to house more needy residents than usual.
Chuck McCorkle, program coordinator of the Warren Family Mission, said they received six phone calls Thursday from individuals needing a place to stay.
McCorkle said there are 10 beds and 23 cots available at the mission as part of the residential program.
He said men needing a place to stay during the cold weather can come to the men's facility location at 361 Elm Road, Warren where they will receive a meal, laundry and place to sleep.
''All we ask is if they stay here they help chip in at the mission. They don't have to leave, but help us,'' he said.
McCorkle said he expects to receive more calls once the temperatures really drop.
Christinia Gargas, donor recruiter for the American Red Cross, said the need for keeping blood supplies replenished is critical during the winter months when less people, due to cold or severe winter weather, are unable to go to blood drives.
''The bad winter weather really affects us. The need is always up at this time of the year because of the weather because of more accidents on the roads. It is important that we maintain a sufficient blood supply,'' Gargas said.
She said the ARC tries to offer as many opportunities to donate blood in the winter months as possible, which are listed at redcrossblood.org.