FAIRBORN — Most local schools and many area businesses shut down Monday as the Miami Valley prepared for the predicted bitter cold and chances of heavy snow.
School administrators in Greene and Clark counties announced Sunday evening that their respective schools would be closed on Jan. 6 delaying their return from winter break. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base also announced their decision to close late Sunday, directing only mission essential employees to report to work Monday.
The five major local universities — Wright State University, University of Dayton, Cedarville University, Central State and Wilberforce University — also closed Monday as temperatures throughout Ohio were expected to be the coldest in more than two decades.
Though several area counties issued snow emergencies, Greene County residents received mostly rain, some freezing, and some snow overnight, making for a messy commute Monday morning. But it was the sub-zero temperatures that kept most indoors.
The high temperature Monday reached only zero degrees and the low was expected to be minus 11 degrees, without factoring in the stinging wind chill. These extreme temperatures created additional challenges for local road crews.
According to Street and Equipment Maintenance Superintendent Sean Sink, the Fairborn Street Division often pre-treats with brine and sometimes salt ahead of an event. This pre-treatment typically helps keep the snow and ice from adhering to the surface of the road, but is not effective when the precipitation begins as rain that dilutes the brine and washes it away.
As the temperatures drop below 25 degrees, salt starts to lose its ability to melt ice. The more the temperature drops, the more salt is needed to melt the same amount of ice.
“We try to keep the drifted areas plowed off the best we can and use heavy salt in the areas of intersections and hills,” said Sink. “Even with the extreme temperatures the sun does help in melting the ice. We hope the extreme cold keeps most people off the roads and the ones that do go out slow down.”
The City of Fairborn workforce has specific clothing to keep them warm in inclement weather. Outside work performed by the street department would include sign and signal work, putting out barricades if needed, removing debris from the right of way, cold patch repair of potholes or excavated areas such as water breaks, valve boxes or catch basins.
“This weather is much more extreme than usual so we try to limit all outside work,” Sink said. Making sure safety is first when performing all tasks is top priority.”
Forecasters say sub-zero low temperatures and even more frigid “feel-like” temperatures are possible through Wednesday when, according to WDTN’s weather team, temperatures will reach a high of 22 degrees after starting with a low of zero. Due to these temperatures, many local school districts announced Tuesday closures on Monday afternoon. A chance of snow returns on Thursday with rain or snow forecast for Friday.
Staff writer Bill Duffield contributed to this story. Contact Amanda Crowe at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 937-878-3993 ext. 134.