First day of winter brings first significant snowfall of the season. Roads remain slippery Friday evening and cautious driving is advised.
While Friday was the official first day of winter, the winterlike weather conditions promptly arrived shortly after midnight.
Snow began to fall at about 12:30 a.m. Friday, prompting a winter-weather advisory at 4 a.m. Friday. The advisory was expected to be lifted at 1 p.m. today.
Slick roads led to a number of accidents in the area.
“I think what could happen is happening now,” meteorologist Tom King of the regional National Weather Service bureau said Friday afternoon. “You have got the snow, the blowing snow, the slick travel conditions. We show one-mile visibility at the Akron-Canton Airport.”
To alleviate risks for motorists, the Ohio Department of Transportation dispatched its road-maintenance crews.
“The crews have been working on 12-hour shifts,” said Brent Kovacs, an ODOT public relations officer. “What we look at are surface temperatures. If the surface temperatures are freezing, whether it be rain or wet snow, we will be out there spreading salt. The last report I heard is they will be stopping (Saturday) morning as the snow dissipates.”
As of late Friday afternoon, the snowfall total for the day was 2.4 inches at the airport.
This winter season, ODOT officials are outfitting the plow trucks with a new color scheme for the flashing strobe lights.
“Actually, it is a new combination of colors,” Kovacs said. “We used to have amber. We have a mix — green strobe lights, amber strobe lights and white. We are starting to retrofit the trucks this winter. In Stark County, we have retrofitted four.”
The rationale for going with the new lighting scheme is to heighten safety and visibility.
“Our ODOT plow trucks are rear-ended more than trucks in surrounding states,” Kovacs said. “This is to increase safety for both our plow drivers and the motoring public.”
However, one Minerva-area resident, Larry Roberts, suspects the effect might actually make driving more risky when confronted with the new strobe lights.
Roberts said he recently encountered an ODOT truck.
“These things are strobing right back in your face,” Roberts said. “All of a sudden I was blinded by these strobes. It is dangerous. Especially the white light.”