The winter storm that hit Northeast Ohio Tuesday resulted in multiple-vehicle crashes and record low temperatures.
Route 8 in Hudson and Stow was closed that morning following multiple crashes involving dozens of vehicles. According to Hudson spokeswoman Jody Roberts, approximately 85 vehicles were involved in crashes on Route 8 southbound between Route 303 and Seasons Road due to whiteout weather conditions. She said approximately 40 vehicles were damaged, with approximately 45 additional vehicles in the incidents but undamaged. Five individuals were transported to area hospitals, none with serious injuries.
Stow police reported multiple crashes on Route 8 northbound south of Seasons Road at around the same time. Police Chief Jeff Film said there were at least five crashes and possibly as many as eight. Some people were taken to hospitals with "non-life threatening injuries, said Film. He did not know the total number of vehicles involved, but one crash involved five vehicles and another crash involved two semi-trucks. The cause of the crashes is under investigation, but weather was a factor, said Film.
"When that snowstorm came through, that’s what caused the accidents. People just lost control of their vehicles," he said.
No citations in the crashes have been issued as of press time and investigations were continuing.
The National Weather Service said temperatures at the Akron-Canton Airport broke the past record set in 1911 when temperatures dropped to 10 degrees around sunrise on Wednesday.
The previous record for Nov. 13 was 12 degrees. Weather records date back to 1887.
Freezing temperatures are expected the rest of the week but by next Monday, highs are expected in the upper 40s.
Dr. Cameron C. Lee, a assistant professor of geography at Kent State University who works on climate change in the Great Lakes region among other research projects, said the cold weather was due to a wavy jet stream. The jet stream is a boundary between colder air and warmer air, but the shape of the jet stream is allowing cold air to move further south than it normally would.
"Any one event doesn’t either prove or disprove the idea of climate change," Lee said. "What is usually done with any particular event is something called attribution science, which is still relatively in its infancy, where you try to connect the increase or decrease of any one event happening due to climate change."
He said record cold temperatures are still able to happen even alongside the global rising of temperatures.
Because of the weather, the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Portage and Summit counties saw a significant number of crashes Tuesday. Portage County troopers handled a total of 45 incidents, while Summit County troopers handled 27, according to a spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
At least one person died in a 16-car crash on the Ohio Turnpike in Richfield, according to the patrol. Cierra Brown, 21, of Medina, was driving a 2019 Nissan when she died due to her injuries at the scene. Low visibility from heavy snow is cited as the reason for the crash.
Ray Marsch, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4, which covers Portage, Summit, Trumbull, Stark, Mahoning and Ashtabula counties, said the department has been planning for the first snow for months, and was ready to go about two weeks ago, which is the plan every year, Marsch said.
"We do it really early because you never know what you'll get," Marsch said.
In Portage County, Marsch said there were about 9,800 tons of salt on hand for the winter along with 26 full-time drivers for the snow plows and 22 plow trucks. Summit County has about 11,000 tons of salt on hand, he said, and 35 plow trucks and 29 full-time drivers. Both counties also employ seasonal drivers.
"Our folks, they work 12 to 16 hour shifts, so that's the number one priority to get the roads cleared off," Marsch said.
Contact reporter Eileen McClory at 330-298-1128, email@example.com or @Eileen_McClory.