Due to the recent storms we have been receiving a number of questions related to the declaration of “Snow Emergencies”. I want to clarify the use of ‘Snow Emergency’ protocol under Ohio law. There are no requirements or fixed standards state wide concerning this. Snow Emergency procedures vary county by county, and in each county the Sheriff has the discretion and authority to declare snow emergencies depending upon the circumstances. The three levels of Snow Emergencies as defined by Ohio law are:
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.
In Clermont County I will NOT be declaring Snow Emergencies at any of the above levels on a regular or frequent basis. Level One can been seen and determined by the naked eye, and Levels 2 and 3 create confusion and questions concerning travel plans, employment obligations, and official business. Thus, I will refrain from the declaration of any countywide Snow Emergencies in our county unless the driving conditions are extremely hazardous throughout the entire county. This will only occur if after consultation with my command staff, County Engineer, ODOT, and other public safety entities it is determined that driving would create risks and difficulties particularly for road clearing operations. Bottom Line — Each motorist should examine/consider the weather conditions, the importance of their mission, and their skill and confidence level when deciding if they should venture out on the roadways. I feel this is preferable to me as Sheriff setting a countywide standard that applies to all drivers regardless of the personal factors involved. Employees should check with their respective agencies and offices to determine what guidelines and standards apply for inclement weather situations.
If a countywide Snow Emergency is declared such information will be conveyed via our website www.clermontsheriff.org, e-mail, and/or local media outlets. ODOT also has a snow related website that provides additional information concerning driving in inclement weather: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Services/Pages/IceandSnowInformation.aspx
Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg
Clermont County Ohio