Monday’s unpleasant wintry weather surprise

Forecasted ‘dusting’ hindered some during their morning commute

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON A MOTORIST carefully makes their way along a snowy U.S. 40 in Bridgeport on Monday morning.

MARTINS FERRY — Mother Nature is not quite done with the Ohio Valley this winter.

Residents awoke Monday to a heavy blanket of snow — a surprise to many after hearing forecasts that called for just a dusting of the white stuff the night before. Instead, in the Martins Ferry area, there were 4 inches or more of snow covering roadways. By about 9 a.m., however, most major thoroughfares, such as Ohio 7, were just wet and slushy.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. James Faunda said troopers responded to about 12 calls for assistance during the early morning commute in Belmont County.

“We had quite a few calls for service. Half of them were vehicles stuck and the other half were traffic crashes,” he said, adding the crashes were not serious and did not cause injury. “The secondary routes, Ohio 9, 149 and 147, were snow covered and slippery.”

Faunda said the stuck vehicles involved people who slid off the roadways into ditches or people who could not make it up steep hills.

“Once you leave that pavement, you’re done. … People try to push themselves out or have some other vehicle pull them out, but they need to contact us immediately. A trooper needs to be in the area to help avoid another crash,” Faunda said.

Faunda noted when a trooper is called for service, he or she will check the vehicle for damage and call a tow truck for service. If there is damage, they also will write a crash report.

While waiting for help, Faunda said it is best for people to stay inside their vehicle.

“Don’t be outside the vehicle. That’s when people can get struck by another vehicle and then we have a traffic fatality,” he said.

The St. Clairsville Post’s troopers have avoided getting into accidents themselves despite the many rounds of snow and ice the valley has endured this winter. Just one of the post’s cruisers has been damaged — and that marked the first time in two years, he noted.

“Our guys are good about staying safe and watching the road conditions,” Faunda said, adding the newer cruisers have four-wheel drive while the older ones do not.

In addition to caring for Ohio 7, an Ohio Department of Transportation truck could be seen helping plow Hanover Street and Zane Highway in the city early Monday.