By Konstantine Fekos
Wednesday’s anticipated winter storm struck the Meadville area full force “as scheduled,” causing numerous vehicle-related incidents and temporarily closing sections of roads around the area as a result of stuck cars and slippery conditions.
Crawford County’s latest winter storm warning began Wednesday morning and was scheduled to end today at 7 a.m. It came with an estimated accumulation of 6 to 12 inches of snow across the county, with some areas receiving up to 14 inches, occasionally at a rate of about an inch per hour, according to Alan Clark, Crawford County Emergency Management Agency director.
Temperatures hovered around the upper 20s, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, which reportedly conducted a webinar Wednesday morning with all Ohio and Pennsylvania county EMA directors.
Clark urged all Crawford County residents and winter travelers to exercise extreme caution during the advisory, warning that travel should be avoided unless absolutely necessary as NWS forecasts have called for low visibility and widespread blowing snow.
The NWS winter advisories also pertained to Erie travelers, with a blizzard warning in effect there until this morning. Winds were expected to gust to 30 to 40 mph along the Lake Erie shore, Clark said.
Additional NWS forecasts anticipate the storm to lift completely by Friday morning, breaking into partly to mostly cloudy skies while maintaining below-freezing temperatures.
State and city police handled multiple calls for crashes throughout the day on Wednesday and reported two major crashes Wednesday afternoon, mentioning additional cars stuck in the snow, trucks struggling up hills and quite a few “close calls.”
One of the collisions, near the intersection of Park Avenue and Allegheny Street, led police to block traffic from the intersection to Ben Avon Street between 1 and 2 p.m. until one of the vehicles could be towed.
Shortly after 3 p.m., Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that the speed limit on Interstate 79 had been dropped to 45 miles per hour in Crawford, Erie and Mercer counties. No announcement was made as of presstime that the lower speed limit was no longer being enforced.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.