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How Cleveland drivers should prepare in case Virginia’s winter storm disaster happens here

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 2:56 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Days after a winter storm left hundreds of motorists stranded in snow and freezing temperatures along I-95 in Virginia, some for more than 24 hours, a lake effect snow warning in effect Friday now has drivers in Northeast Ohio battling snowy roads.

Are you prepared in case what happened in Virginia this week ever happens to you?

The 19 First Alert Weather Team said Friday persistent snow squalls could lead to low visibility and whiteout conditions, especially in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties.

Some communities could see up to a foot of snow.

The wintry weather is also expected to cause traffic delays.

Several crashes were reported throughout the region Friday morning.

“When driving conditions worsen, motorists need to drive carefully, be vigilant, aware and patient,” said Captain Eric Sheppard, Commander of the Cleveland District of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “Slow down and give yourself extra time and space to break and turn. If you are stranded, remain calm.”

The patrol said drivers should be prepared for worst case scenario situations this winter by stocking their vehicles with an emergency winter car kit.

Items in the kit should include an ice scraper, shovel, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices, blankets, cell phone charger, first aid kit and a tow rope.

It is also a good idea to pack some non-perishable food and water.

Many of the motorists stuck along I-95 did not have anything on hand to eat or drink.

If you are involved in a crash or your vehicle breaks down, the State Highway Patrol says drivers should turn on their hazard lights, move their vehicle as far off the roadway as possible, remain in their vehicle, and call the patrol at #677.

In case your vehicle becomes stuck in snow, the Patrol says to make sure your tailpipe is free of all snow and debris. This will decrease the chance of being poisoned by carbon monoxide while sitting in your vehicle.

Last winter, there were 14,724 crashes on snow, ice or slush-covered roads, according state traffic data. Twenty-six of the crashes were fatal, and 33 people died.

The Patrol says unsafe speed was the case of 24% of the crashes wintry roads.

“Allowing for extra time to get to your destination could make the difference in the safety of your loved ones and others traveling on the roads this winter,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “You can help mitigate the winter weather hazards when you plan ahead, are patient, and are prepared.”

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