Snow Emergencies: What they are and how they work

(Photo: Jeroen Kransen / CC BY-SA 2.5, via MGN Online)

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) — Another layer of snow made for difficult driving conditions across the Miami Valley Wednesday. Several counties issued snow emergencies, including Montgomery and Preble.

“There are so many variables that go into when you issue it and why you issue it," Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said.

Montgomery County issued a Level 1 Snow Emergency around 9 a.m. The sheriff told FOX 45 the emergency was issued because of the amount of snow still on the roads in the southern portion of the county.

The state has three classifications for snow emergencies: Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Snow Emergency Classifications

  • LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive very cautiously.
  • LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be very icy. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work. Motorists should use extreme caution.
  • LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roads may subject themselves to arrest.

"We very seldom use [Level 3] because it's very problematic," Sheriff Plummer said. "Now you're shutting down businesses, you're keeping people from going to their jobs."

Sheriff Plummer said a Level 3 Snow Emergency hasn't been issued in Montgomery County for nearly 20 years.

"Everybody wanted a note from the sheriff saying they weren't allowed to go to work because people were getting jammed up for not going to work," he said. "It's just not worth it."

The sheriff also told FOX 45 Level 1 and Level 2 emergencies are more of a courtesy to the public.

"A Level 3 I get it if it's that bad out we don't want people traveling," he said. "Level 1 and Level 2 are kind of mundane. We really don't need them."

Greene County chose not to issue a snow emergency Wednesday, instead leaning on its text alert system. Residents can text their Greene County zip code to 888-777 to sign up for the alerts.

"This morning it said the snowplows were out, the roads are bad, slow down and use caution," Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said. "Even though we did have an increase in crashes, they weren't serious crashes and so a lot of people either stayed home or they were driving better."

Sheriff Fischer said he didn't issue the snow emergency Wednesday morning because he felt it would've been canceled within an hour or two.

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