By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
Holiday travel plans may have to be put on hold thanks to the 7 to 11 inches of snow expected to be dumped on Mercer County through Wednesday, with more to follow on turkey day.
“Heavy snowfall will make travel dangerous,” according to the National Weather Service, based in Pittsburgh.
A steady snowfall is expected by noon today, with the brunt of the winter storm to hit tonight.
The winter storm warning issued at 3:29 p.m. Monday for Mercer County begins at noon today and continues through 4 a.m. Thursday. The warning for Trumbull and Mahoning counties in Ohio is in effect until 7 a.m. Thursday. There is a 100 percent chance of snow today and tonight, dropping to an 80 percent chance Wednesday and 40 percent chance on Thursday.
The NWS says it issues the warnings when severe winter weather is expected. Heavy snow and/or ice will cause hazardous driving conditions. People traveling in the warning area are urged to choose an alternate route or use extreme caution if travel is unavoidable.
Mercer County has already seen its share of weather-related vehicle accidents since the first snowfall Nov. 11.
In fact, Mercer County 911 recorded 58 motor vehicle accidents countywide from Friday through Sunday night.
Russ Saylor, deputy director of emergency management, said that number was higher than usual for a weekend under normal weather conditions.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, Saylor said, 911 dispatchers fielded 93 calls reporting car accidents, although some could have been duplicates; that is, more than one caller could have reported the same incident.
Friday through Sunday, Hermitage police reported two weather-related crashes.
At about 6 a.m. Monday, a car traveling south hit a guard rail in the 1300 block of Dutch Lane and landed on its roof in a hollow.
Adam Piccirillo, deputy chief for administration, said the driver lost traction due to slick and icy roads. He was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.
“Sometimes you get the frost just from it being so cold,” Piccirillo said. “So cold that there was a glaze coat on the roadway.”
In other parts of Mercer County, multiple accidents blamed on slick or icy roadways were logged by state troopers and police in Hempfield, Jefferson, and Pymatuning townships, Sharon and Greenville-West Salem Township.
Southwest Mercer County Regional police responded to four or five accidents in their coverage area of Farrell, Wheatland, West Middlesex and Shenango Township, said Chief Riley Smoot.
Patrolmen, especially in the afternoon or evening shifts, react at the hint of bad or questionable weather, Smoot said.
“This time of year they radio 911 and road crews are notified,” Smoot said. “The officers correspond with other communities and give them a jump on it.”