Officials stress caution for students during severe winter weather


Officials stress caution for students during severe winter weather

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

Updated at 9:50 a.m.

Bowling Green Safety Director John Fawcett declared a snow emergency effective at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Vehicles on designated snow streets must be moved before 10 a.m. or risk towing and citation.

With up to 16 inches of snow predicted by Wednesday, students are asked to be safe when venturing outdoors.

As of Monday night, the National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning for Northwest Ohio lasting from 10 p.m. Monday until 7 p.m. Wednesday with total accumulation of 12-16 inches expected.

Lt. Brad Billers of the Bowling Green Police Division said an increase in traffic crashes is likely with the heavy snow.

“The typical thing we handle in traffic crashes that are weather-related is people traveling too fast and following too close,” he said. “Those are the two big ones.”

Billers said students should make sure to clear off a vehicle’s windows and lights before driving. In addition, he said to ensure ample stopping distance and to drive slowly.

Drivers should not go out if a Level 3 Snow Emergency is issued, he said.

“Under our current program, we are not required to provide warnings. It is possible that people will be immediately ticketed; it is possible that they will be immediately towed,” he said. “The focus of that is to provide that the snow clearance equipment can operate on the streets when clearing it.”

He said people out during a Level 3 Snow Emergency are most likely to receive a citation.

“If they don’t have to go out, they shouldn’t,” he said.

Billers said a Level 1 Alert means people are encouraged to stay off the roads unless necessary. A Level 2 Advisory, he said, restricts driving to those who have to be somewhere, such as school or work. For a Level 3 Emergency, nobody should be on the roads except in emergency circumstances.

Classes will be canceled only if a Level 3 Emergency is issued, according to University weather policy.

Andy Alt, the assistant Dean of Students, said students should sign up for AlertBG, the University’s emergency messaging service, in order to be up-to-date on closings.

“I think the thing to remember is that even if the weather is bad, it doesn’t mean that classes are automatically canceled,” he said. “They need to be paying attention to the ways that the University is communicating with students to confirm.”

These include AlertBG and the University’s website.

A Level 3 Emergency is issued by the Wood County Sheriff’s office after consultation with local administrators and Ohio Department of Transportation, said Sue Gavron, the public information officer for the Wood County Emergency Management Agency.

Gavron said those who go out during a Level 1 or 2 should dress in layers, as wind is likely to reach 20 mph with a sub-zero wind chill.

“If students are going to be out and about walking to class, they need to dress for cold, windy weather,” she said. “They need to dress in layers, they need to have their heads covered and their hands covered.”

Gavron said students should be prepared but not panic.

“If electricity goes out, if heat goes out, there will be some shelters opening,” she said.

Shelters will be created if needed and the public will be notified of the locations, according to police.