A two day winter storm closed down interstates, businesses and schools in Cincinnati on Tuesday, January 27 and Wednesday, January 28. The official snowfall total for Cincinnati was 7.5 inches, though some outlying areas got up to as much as nine inches.
The snow was not the biggest problem, however. A downpour of sleet and freezing rain fell between two bursts of snow showers, making most of the roads dangerous and causing thousands to lose power.
The estimated number of residents who lost power was 50,000, according to Johnna Reeder, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy, which provides electricity to about 815,000 homes in Hamilton County. She also cautioned that it could take the company several days to restore everyone’s power, since temperatures were to remain below freezing until at least Sunday afternoon.
“As long as the temperatures remain below freezing, the ice and snow will stay on wires and trees,” Reeder said, warning that new outages could be possible.
Many of the roads will remain dangerous until the temperature reaches above freezing. Road crews will continue to treat the interstates and main routes before getting to secondary roads in outlying areas. One of the main concerns has been the dangerous climb on Interstate 71/75 near the bridge leading from Cincinnati to northern Kentucky.
“It’s one of the largest arteries in the United States,” Lt. Col. Spike Jones told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jones is the city’s assistant police chief. He and his crew decided to close that busy section of the interstate on Wednesday morning, when southbound trucks lost traction on the uphill climb, stranding vehicles behind them. Officers closed the artery in both directions to allow salt trucks, plows and tow trucks to treat clear the lanes.
Many accidents were reported in other areas of the city, including a Wednesday crash that killed a village worker. Kelly Sullivan, 42, was making his commute from his home in nearby Goshen, Ohio to his work in Indian Hill. Sullivan, who leaves a wife and three daughters, lost control of his pickup truck and crossed into the northbound lane of Glendale-Milford Road. He hit a snowplow driven by another village employee and was taken to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at 9:10 a.m.
Other accidents occurred throughout the day. Northbound I-71 was shut down at 6:00 a.m. because of a two-vehicle accident. At about that same time a car flipped on the Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway, resulting in one person being sent to a hospital. Interstate 275 was cluttered with cars as traffic came to a standstill near the exit to two popular suburbs.
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory tried to take a positive approach to the storm that closed most businesses and schools. Mallory declared Wednesday as “Family Day,” hoping people would stay home and enjoy the time with their relatives and neighbors.