How a Snow Emergency Affects the Town

By Julia Arwine

The Level 2 snow emergency that hit Oxford last weekend cost the city $17,000 in overtime for police and snow plowing crews. With more snow falling Wednesday and Thursday and another storm predicted for Saturday, that was likely just winter’s icy beginning.

A Level 2 snow emergency is declared when “roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways.” The emergency is declared by the city manager in consultation with the police and other city officials.

The advice to only drive if necessary mostly included those driving to and from work, although Oxford Police advised that, “citizens should contact employers to determine if they should report to work.”

City workers accumulated 486 hours of overtime during last weekend’s storm. They used 1,000 gallons of salt brine, 450 tons of salt and 2,000 pounds of ice melting chemicals to clear the streets, according to Oxford Service Director Michael Dreisbach. Those materials, along with the cost of fuel for snow plows, amounted to a total expense of about $29,500.

According to police records from January 12 and 13, Oxford Police Department (OPD) only received four calls for cars stuck in the snow, two calls for road crew assistance and two calls for car crashes, only one of which had an injury— a woman was hit in the head during the accident.

McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital did see an increase in patients being treated for falls over the weekend, according to Mike Mattingly, a TriHealth media relations consultant.

“I’m guessing a lot of that’s because of the ice and snow,” Mattingly said.

Some additional snow on Wednesday night and Thursday morning prompted the closing of Talawanda schools on Thursday. The National Weather Service is predicting more snow beginning late Friday with a possible five inches of accumulation through the weekend.

During any level of snow emergency, or when there is an accumulation of snow totaling three inches or more, cars parked along snow routes in Oxford may be towed. Snow routes include main thoroughfares such as High Street, Spring Street, Chestnut Street, Campus Avenue, College Avenue, Main Street and more. A map of Oxford’s complete snow route system is available on the city’s website.

During snow emergencies, Miami University opens Millet Hall’s parking lot for student residents who have to move their cars off city snow routes, free of parking fees.

According to OPD, no cars were towed during the emergency, as most people did move their vehicles from the snow routes. OPD Chief John Jones said at the Jan. 15 city council meeting that those cars that did not move were marked with 72-hour warnings and would be towed prior to another upcoming snow event.

OPD uses the NIXLE messaging alert system that connects residents with local agencies, to send out updates related to snow and other emergencies.

Although the city takes care of plowing the roads, residents and business owners are expected to keep their own sidewalks clear. Under the Ohio Revised Code, Oxford Codified Ordinance 521.06 reads, “No owner or occupant of abutting lands shall fail to keep the sidewalks, curbs or gutters in repair and free from snow, ice or any nuisance.”

FAQs about winter sidewalk maintenance can be found on the Oxford city website.