Snow emergency levels in Ohio: what you need to know

Snow emergency levels in Ohio: what you need to know

We all love the beautiful winters that Ohio has to offer, but sometimes the snow can get out of control and lead to dangerous roads. If you live in Ohio, you know what I’m talking about—even on days when there isn’t a lot of snow, it may be icy or just plain hard to see the road. When this happens, the Ohio Department of Transportation will announce that an emergency has been declared in your area and determine which snow emergency level should be used to warn people about poor road conditions. But what do those levels mean? And how does that change your travel plans?


Know the difference between Level 1 and Level 2

A Level 1 snow emergency applies when there are less than 6 inches of snow on road surfaces and/or if no plowing is required. In other words, as long as there isn’t more than 6 inches of snow on roads (and even that much is questionable) or some light shoveling will suffice, your city won’t be implementing a Level 1 snow emergency. Notifications for Levels 1 and 2 are issued via press release or an online statement from city officials. Although these announcements aren’t mandatory for media outlets, many sites make it a practice to update their readers with Level 1 or 2 information regardless of whether they receive a formal notification.


What are the details of these winters?

For starters, it’s been snowing like crazy. If a winter storm forecast calls for more than six inches of snow, that triggers a Code Blue, which is when officials start looking at whether or not to close schools, and then police and fire departments start preparing for response time delays. In some areas (like Ashtabula County) that Code Blue threshold is eight inches of snow. In Cuyahoga County, however—which includes all of Cleveland—it takes 12 inches of snow before officials even begin talking about closing schools or declaring a state of emergency. The city has also experienced blizzard conditions at least twice since last March. Perhaps most infamously was on St.


How do I prepare myself?

It’s better safe than sorry—especially when it comes to bad weather. If you live in a particularly stormy area, or if weather patterns have made it a common occurrence, consider prepping your home now so that when an approaching snowstorm sends you into inclement-weather mode, your family can relax instead of worry about how they’ll deal with it. Start with basic preparations like shoveling pathways and clearing out gutters before winter hits. You can also add other layers of preparation as well, including keeping a well-stocked pantry with food that doesn’t require thawing (instant oatmeal, protein bars), blankets for everyone who plans on staying at home, and supplies such as flashlights and batteries (and plenty of both).


Types of storms that land in Ohio

There are a variety of types of storms that can land in Ohio. While not every storm is a , it is important to know about them because they can still bring other challenges. For example, an ice storm can lead to power outages and downed tree limbs. A hurricane or tropical storm may lead to flooding and road closures. A heat wave may lead to high fire danger. It is important for drivers (and snowplow operators) to be aware of these various weather situations, as well as any travel alerts or warnings issued by local authorities before getting behind the wheel.



There are three snow emergency levels. Knowing how each one affects your city can help you prepare for a storm before it strikes. Is your area affected? If your region is in a snow emergency, there may be additional public transportation options available; monitor local news outlets or social media if you don’t have power or internet service during an outage. Stay safe and warm during winter storms by having some essentials on hand—any time of year—that could come in handy when a disaster strikes. Have flashlights, extra batteries, water, non-perishable snacks, blankets, matches/lighters and other items readily available for when an emergency occurs.



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