COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Much of Ohio was slammed with 4 to 8 inches of snow overnight, followed by some freezing rain for good measure. That left a harrowing commute on Wednesday for people who ventured out early, and again closed hundreds of schools that have already run out of their allotment of calamity days.
Officials were advising people to stay off the roads if possible, and some local governments and businesses closed or delayed opening. Two legislative committees in Columbus canceled hearings. Scattered power outages were reported.
Southeast Ohio saw freezing rain and sleet. The worst of the storm was over in most of the state by dawn, but transportation officials were concerned about the lingering effects of ice on top of snowy roads.
"I wish that groundhog would have stayed in its hole," said Geoff Dunn, who took the bus to his downtown Columbus office on Wednesday morning, avoiding the messy roads but still having to navigate snowy sidewalks. "Finding us six more weeks of winter was not the smart move."
In Cleveland, 43-year-old Debbie Rosen had to contend with tough, snowy highway conditions to get from suburban Solon to the airport and head to a ski vacation in Colorado.
"Who goes from cold to colder? That's what we're doing. We're hoping to get some good skiing in," she said, standing in front of a flight board with 22 of 24 listed departures canceled. Other airports in the state also saw flights canceled or delayed.
"It hasn't been this bad in a long time, and it's kind of silly because everybody knew it was coming," said 40-year-old John Bradbury, whose normal 20-minute trip to the Cleveland airport took 90 minutes on Wednesday. His flight to Miami for a trade show ultimately was canceled.
"I expected things to be a little better prepared road-wise," Bradbury said.
Meanwhile, local governments in Ohio could soon get some help replenishing their dwindling road salt supplies.
The big snows in Ohio started in early December and haven't let up, leading to a salt shortage. The state said it is trying to negotiate deals, asking salt companies to bid on a set of new contracts that could make an additional 150,000 tons available to local governments across the state in about two weeks.
The National Weather Service said most Ohio cities already have seen anywhere from 15 to 30 inches more snow than is normal at this stage of the winter in about 10 significant storms.
Associated Press writers Tom Sheeran in Cleveland, Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Ann Sanner in Columbus contributed to this report.