OHIO VALLEY — Freezing rain and a slight coating of snow made for slick travel, power outages and school closings around the Ohio Valley on Monday night and Tuesday, with additional winter weather in the forecast for later this week.
As of Tuesday afternoon, AEP Ohio was reporting less than 1,000 customers in Meigs and Gallia Counties were without power, while neighboring Lawrence County had more than 10,000 still without power.
In an update at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, AEP Ohio stated on it’s Facebook page,
“Southeast Ohio suffered the brunt of last night’s messy winter weather. We’ve already begun moving additional line and contractor crews into areas affected by the weather to assess damage and begin replacing broken poles and downed power lines. Crews know that it’s cold without power but are asking for your patience. Roads are extremely treacherous or closed and much of the damage is located in ice-covered, hard-to-reach rough terrain. Our commitment is to get your power back on as quickly as we safely can and to get our crews home safely to their loved ones,” read the statement.
The statement continued, “In hard hit areas in southeast Ohio, it’s possible customers may be out of power for several days. We’ll let you know restoration times as they become available. To get the latest information, be sure to sign up for our text alerts at AEPOhio.com/Alerts or download the AEP Ohio app. In the meantime, please check on the elderly and those who may need assistance. And always stay away from all downed lines and anything they may be touching. Thanks for your patience while we work to get your power back on.”
Much of the outages in Gallia County were in the Crown City area, with others reported in the Cheshire and Vinton areas. In Meigs County, outages were reported in the Chester and Tuppers Plains areas, as well as outlying areas of Pomeroy and Middleport, among other locations.
Appalachian Power reported several outages in Mason County on Tuesday morning, with the largest amount in the Southside (339 customers) and Gallipolis Ferry (177 customers) areas. Other outages were reported in the Fraziers Bottom, Point Pleasant and Bend Areas of Mason County.
“Appalachian Power customers are facing the effects of three damaging winter storms, with the latest and most devastating arriving on Monday night, Feb.15. More than 100,000 customers are without power, mostly in West Virginia. Several thousand of those West Virginia customers have been without power since an ice storm Thursday, Feb. 11,” read a statement from the company.
“Appalachian Power has 2,600 workers dedicated to restoring electric service on all fronts in the wake of the storms. The work force includes crews who traveled from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to help local crews and contractors repair ice storm damage.
“In West Virginia, we have temporarily suspended overall restoration estimates in affected areas of the state until we are able to provide a preliminary assessment of the damages. We are providing outage-specific estimates on jobs where crews are on-site making repairs, and will resume overall restoration estimates as soon as we are confidently able to do so.”
“In all storm events Appalachian Power prioritizes restoration efforts to safely get the largest number of customers on in the shortest amount of time, and addresses restoration in these four steps: First, restore critical services, such as hospitals and fire departments; Second, restore outages that affect large groups of customers; Third, fix problems that affect smaller numbers of customers; and Fourth, make repairs that affect individual customers.”
Ohio county snow emergencies
Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood had declared a Level 3 Snow Emergency for approximately 11 hours over night Monday and into Tuesday morning. Gallia County remained at a Level 2 Snow Emergency as declared by Sheriff Matt Champlin.
As a reminder, a Level 1 Snow Emergency means that roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow and may be icy. Drivers should use caution. A Level 2 Snow Emergency means that roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow and that only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be on the roads. Employees should consult their employers regarding if they should report to work. A Level 3 Snow Emergency means that roadways are closed to all non-emergency personnel. No one should be on the roads unless absolutely necessary. Employees should consult their employers regarding if they should report to work.
Snow emergency levels in Ohio counties are declared by the sheriff in each county. These levels are typically announced on the office social media pages as declared.
West Virginia counties state of emergency
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency in four western counties where an ice storm caused tens of thousands of power outages and knocked trees onto roads.
As reported by the Associated Press, the declaration Tuesday for Cabell, Lincoln, Putnam and Wayne counties allows the National Guard to assist in storm-related response. More than 60% of Appalachian Power customers in the four counties lost service.
More than 89,000 Appalachian Power customers remained without service in southern West Virginia on Tuesday afternoon. That represents 19% of the utility’s total customers in the state. The utility said some of the outages involved customers who were still without service from a Feb. 11 ice storm. The utility said it has nearly 2,600 crews and contractors from as far away as Illinois working to get service restored.
Next round of winter weather
Additional winter weather is expected in the area on Wednesday night and throughout the day on Thursday, with Mason, Meigs and Gallia Counties under a “winter storm watch” from 7 p.m. on Wednesday (today) to 7 a.m. on Friday.
The advisory for Meigs and Gallia County issued by the National Weather Service on Tuesday morning states that heavy snow is possible with total snow accumulations of over 4 inches possible.
In Mason County, the advisory is for the same time frame, but states “Heavy mixed precipitation possible. Total snow accumulations of over 4 inches and ice accumulations of a light glaze possible.”
“Travel could be very difficult. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute… Two rounds of wintry precipitation are expected. The first is forecast to occur Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The second is forecast to occur Thursday night” read the advisory.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.