TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - With winter back in full swing, counties across the state will begin to issue snow emergencies.
Ohio has three snow emergency levels:
- LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive very cautiously.
- LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be very icy. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work. Motorists should use extreme caution.
- LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roads may subject themselves to arrest.
However, each county has different qualifications for issuing a snow emergency.
"When we really look and see what is happening and how people are handling the roads, that can give us an idea of what is right and what is wrong," Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp said. "And it's always right to think on the side of safety."
Sheriff Tharp and Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn say his office spends a lot of time when they decide to declare a snow emergency.
Wednesday, Lucas County declared a Level 1 snow emergency. However, Wood County did not. But by far the hardest emergency for a sheriff to issue is a Level 3.
Sheriff Wasylyshyn says he is slow to issue a level three because it prevents people from going to work and could ticket drivers on the road.
"Level 3 means the road is closed so someone is at the store, someone is at work, guess what? They're stuck at work during that time," Sheriff Wasylyshyn said. "So if plows are plowing, I don't want people to be stuck at work."
When snow emergencies are issued, residents in both Wood and Lucas counties say that changes how they plan their day.
"Usually on a level one I'm okay with that," Jackie Kropaczewski of Walbridge said. "I know that's just driving cautious on a level two I try to stay off the road and level three you won't find me on the road unless it's absolutely emergency."
"I drive a lot slower than I usually do, always being aware of everybody around you," Vanessa Martinez of Toledo said. "Getting cozy, dressing nice and warm."
Sheriff Tharp and Wasylyshyn know not everyone will agree with their decision for the snow emergency, but they take the job seriously for your safety.
"Use your common sense," Sheriff Wasylyshyn said. "Don't go out if the conditions are beyond your ability to drive."
"The bottom line is, we really want to save lives," Sheriff Tharp added. "We want to make sure that people get home safe, or stay home and stay safe."
Most Sheriff Tharp and Sheriff Wasylyshyn agree regardless of what level a county may be under, drivers need to slow down and drive safely on the roads when it is snowing.