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Reality Check: Snow emergency confusion

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

This winter is one for the books with some of the worst road conditions in recent memory.

Snow emergencies have been common this year. They've have been as confusing as they have been abundant with warning levels varying from state-to-state, county-to-county, and city-to-city on any given day.

Perhaps no single day better illustrates the complexity of the many snow emergency levels than January 25 when a major storm blanketed the Tri-state with snow and ice. In Campbell County, Ky. a "Level 2" snow emergency was declared while in nearby Fort Wright a snow emergency was issued, but with no number attached to it.

In Ohio, Brown, Butler, and Bracken Counties were all issued "Level 1" emergencies, but over in Ripley County in Indiana a "Level Orange" snow emergency was declared.

Why a color code in the Hoosier State when the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are used in Ohio and Kentucky?

In 2011, Indiana State lawmakers established a state-wide color code system administered by the Department of Homeland Security:

  • Yellow -Travelers urged to use caution.
  • Orange - Only essential travel recommended.
  • Red - Refrain from all travel, period.

In Ohio, local sheriffs makes the call. In Campbell County, it's William Turner, Director of Emergency Management. He tells FOX19 that his decision on what happens in Campbell County is based on what he sees in Campbell County and not based on snow emergencies declared in other neighboring areas.

Turner also says that he relies on the local news media to get snow emergency information out to the public as quickly as possible. 

The bottom line is this: The snow emergency can be confusing, but it's the system we have, and it's not going to change any time soon.

Sources: 

http://www.fox19.com/story/24546135/snow-emergecies-issued-throughout-the-tri-state

http://www.in.gov/ai/dhs/travel_advisory.pdf

http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Services/Pages/IceandSnowInformation.aspx

http://www.boonecountyky.org/pw/snow.aspx

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