March madness

An ice storm that struck late Sunday morning played havoc with traffic in Marietta and surrounding areas where dozens of minor vehicle accidents were reported.

A church van headed for the Marietta Bible Center slid off the roadway and ended up in the front yard of Colegate Drive resident Justin Salinsky shortly after noon.

“I was at the back of the house when my wife heard a loud thud out front,” Salinsky said. “I’m just thankful that no one was hurt.”

The mishap was one of a host of minor accidents that resulted from the storm that began as all rain earlier Sunday morning, then changed to a rain-and-ice mix before turning to all snow that afternoon.

By 2:15 p.m. Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks had declared a countywide Level 2 snow emergency alert, which limits driving for only essential purposes.

“The county and Ohio Highway Patrol combined had probably responded to at least 30 minor accidents by 2:30 p.m.,” he said. “We declared the Level 2 emergency primarily to get people off the roadways so the snow plows could clear the roads.”

Mincks said the declaration would continue through this morning as up to six inches of snow were forecast overnight.

“The main roads may be passable, but there are still a lot of county and township roads that need to be cleared,” he said.

The sheriff noted that a Level 2 emergency means traveling by vehicle only if necessary, and employees should contact their employers to determine if they have to be at work before heading onto the roadways during the emergency declaration period.

There has been some concern for potential power outages due to the ice and heavy snow, but American Electric Power of Ohio said no power interruptions had been reported by late Sunday afternoon.

“There’s been nothing in the Marietta area, but we’re still monitoring the situation,” Fay White, spokesperson for AEP Ohio, said Sunday afternoon.

She said extra crews were on standby in case the storm caused any outages overnight.

The snow should taper off and move out of the area this morning, according to meteorologist Tom Mazza with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va.

“A couple waves of snow are moving through the area,” he said. “And basically we’re looking at a total of around four to six inches by Monday. But temperatures will only be in the lower 20s Monday and will drop into the single digits Monday night.”

Mazza said Tuesday’s high will be around 32 degrees with a low in the teens that night.

“After Monday it should be a relatively quiet week,” he said. “A small system could move through Thursday night and Friday morning, but most of that will stay south and east of the Marietta area.”