What is a Snow Emergency?
Local media might report something like: “Athens County is under a Level 2 Snow Emergency.” What does that mean for you?
The snow emergency level issued by county sheriffs in Ohio, is meant to give citizens a sense of roadway conditions, and in some cases, to limit or restrict travel on roadways in the interest of safety. The authority to declare snow emergencies is placed on the county sheriff by Ohio law and, to clarify the definition, sheriffs of Ohio’s 88 counties adopted guidelines to be followed when closing highways due to severe weather.
A county sheriff may, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code sections 311.07 and 311.08, declare a snow emergency and temporarily close the state roads and municipal streets within his/her jurisdiction when such action is reasonably necessary for the preservation of the public peace. Ohio Attorney General Opinion 86-023 states that a Sheriff of a County may declare a snow emergency and temporarily close County and Township roads; Ohio Attorney General’s Opinion 97-015 (pdf), issued April 1, 1997, concluded that this authority includes state roads, county and township roads and municipal streets.
Any person who knowingly hampers or fails to obey a lawful order of the sheriff declaring a snow emergency and temporarily closing highways, roads and/or streets within his/her jurisdiction may be subject to criminal prosecution under Ohio Revised Code Section 2917.13, “Misconduct at an emergency” or other applicable law or ordinance.
What are SNOW LEVELS and what do they mean?
Pursuant to Attorney General opinion 86-023,
“The Sheriff of a County may declare a Snow Emergency and temporarily close County and Township Roads within his jurisdiction for the preservation of the public peace.”
Attorney General opinion 97-015 allows the Sheriff to close State and Municipal Roads.
Wintry conditions are classified as one of the following three (3) levels:
LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads are also icy, drive carefully.
LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roadways. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work.
LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be out during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roadways may subject themselves to arrest.