Snow Causes Level 3 Snow Emergency, County Closures

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Snowy Road

A Level 3 snow emergency in Athens and surrounding counties has led to the closure of various county buildings and roads around the area.

At about 6 a.m. on Thursday, Acting Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith issued a Level 3 snow emergency.

“All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel,” a news release from the Athens County Sheriff’s Office stated. “No one should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel…Those traveling on the roadways may subject themselves to arrest.”

After speaking to the Ohio Department of Transportation at about 10 a.m., Smith decided to continue the Level 3 emergency.

“It’s as bad as I’ve seen it out there,” Smith said. “Right now we’re still evaluating, but we have deputies in every area.”

The emergency came after heavy snowfall started Wednesday night, following almost continuous rain throughout the day.

A level one snow emergency was announced by Smith at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, which was upgraded to level two just two hours later. At the same time, Vinton County Sheriff Shawn Justice also announced snow emergencies.

Justice issued a Level 3 snow emergency much earlier than Athens County, however, announcing it at about 10 p.m. on social media.

“Please, if you do not absolutely need to be on the road tonight, stay home,” the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page stated. “Numerous accidents are being reported in our county. If you have a one vehicle accident with no injuries, you will be told to come in at a later date for the report.”

Vinton County has been reevaluating conditions since 7 a.m. this morning, and plan to reevaluate conditions throughout the day, Justice said in a text message to WOUB News.

Jackson County also announced a level three snow emergency.

With the level three emergency, the Athens County Courthouse, the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, the Athens County Sheriff’s Office administrative offices, the Athens County Auditor’s Office and Athens County Job and Family Services closed, along with the City of Athens administrative offices. Ohio University’s Athens campus closed until 5 p.m. Thursday, after announcing they would close at 4 a.m. on Thursday.

Athens Public Transit also closed all routes for Thursday.

Hocking County remains under a level two snow emergency, meaning travel on the roads is discouraged by law enforcement.

Baker University Center is remaining open for those without power.

The Jacksonville and Glouster Volunteer Fire Departments opened their doors as warming stations for those without power in the area. The Jacksonville department is located at 34 S. Sixth Street, and the Glouster department is at 32 Water Street.

The Emergency Management Agency for Athens County released a press release saying vehicles parked on county and township roads are subject to be towed at the owner’s expense. Fred Davis, director of the EMA also said abandoned cars must be removed from the roads.

“If you abandon your car, you’re responsible for getting it off the road,” Davis said, adding that cars in the road could obstruct public safety vehicles attempting to clear or travel roads.