Ohioans warned of wind gusts as temperatures plummet, prompting school closures, driving bans


BRYAN, Ohio — Emergency agencies urged Ohioans to heed safety warnings Monday as the state entered another deep freeze forecast through Tuesday, prompting many schools to close and some counties to restrict driving because of snowy or windy conditions.

The National Weather Service put most of Ohio under a wind chill warning Monday as temperatures dropped and forecasters predicted wind chills that were well below zero and expected to dip even more on Tuesday. They warned of wind gusts reaching 35 to 45 mph, with blizzard conditions in some rural areas.

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The Ohio Turnpike banned certain large vehicles and trailers from the toll road Monday morning because of high wind.

Paulding and Williams counties in northwest Ohio were under snow emergencies closing roads to everyone except emergency workers. Dozens more counties had lower-level snow emergencies for hazardous roads, asking people to avoid driving if possible. Cleveland was among the northern Ohio cities restricting parking on some streets as snowplows made their routes.

Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo were among the largest school districts closed. Many districts have reached or surpassed the limit of five weather-related cancellations they can have before they must schedule makeup days.

On Monday, Gov. John Kasich called on lawmakers and the state Department of Education to act to add a few extra calamity days to school calendars on a one-time basis, saying districts need the allotment increased to accommodate this year’s unusually severe weather.

The cold was affecting older students, too. The University of Akron in northeast Ohio said it would be shut down Monday and Tuesday because of the weather, while Ohio University in southeast Ohio was closing Monday afternoon until Wednesday morning, with a handful of buildings including the library, student center and recreation center open on adjusted schedules.

Ohio’s top utility regulator encouraged residents to take steps to reduce their natural gas and electricity use because demand was expected to rise as temperatures dropped. A statement from Todd Snitchler, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, suggested that residents keep doors closed as much as possible, limit use of natural gas appliances in the mornings and wait to use stoves and dishwashers until midday or after 9 p.m., when demand for power is lower.