The Butler County Engineer's
Office is back online following the widespread power outages
caused by Sunday's massive windstorm. While our web site has
been down, employees of the Engineer's Office have been quite
busy behind the scenes and out on the roads despite there being
only limited backup power at the BCEO facility.
Crews were called in
during the height of the storm Sunday afternoon to clear debris,
fallen trees, and branches and limbs from roadways, according
to Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. Most roads were passable
by late Monday; however, downed poles and power lines continued
to block some roads. BCEO crews had to wait for utility companies
to clear these areas before they could clean up the remaining
debris and reopen the roadways. Usually put into place during
severe snow storms, a Level 3 Weather
Emergency was declared by the Butler County Sheriff on Sunday
and was lowered to Level 1 status Monday afternoon.
By Tuesday morning
all roads on the County road system were clear and open to traffic.
Crews will continue to haul away from the berms any debris that
had been blocking roads and will make certain that all potential
hazards are removed over the next two to three weeks. Motorists
are asked to contact the BCEO Operations Department at 513-785-4157
if they spot any debris on or hanging over a County road that
could be hazardous.
Signals Take a Beating
Fallen trees and debris
aren't the only problems with which the Engineer's Office has
had to contend. "We maintain 68 traffic signals, most of
which were without power following the storm," said Wilkens.
"In addition, 24 signal heads were twisted or turned out
of alignment. We've had to completely replace ten signal heads,
eight of which were blown to the ground sustaining significant
Some traffic signals
have battery backups that are designed to last four to eight
hours. BCEO Traffic Engineer Matt Loeffler reports that a few
lasted for nearly 20 hours during the early stages of the blackout.
As power is gradually restored to the area, about 60 percent
of the signals were repaired and back in operation yesterday
and roughly 95 percent are fully operational as of noon today.
A few signals are running on alternate power via generators until
electricity is re-established. Loeffler is tending to each and
every signal ensuring that all are operating correctly, or will
be once power is restored. He reminds all motorists that when
signals are dark, the intersection becomes a four-way stop.
While road crews have
been working nearly non-stop, office employees at the BCEO have
had to contend with limited power. "A generator kept us
from being in the dark, but it wasn't enough to power everything,"
Wilkens noted. "As a consequence, our computer servers were
down keeping us offline for several days. It is certainly good
to have the web site back up and our interoffice network in full
operation. While we are back to 100 percent in the office, there
are a few road construction projects that will experience a slight
delay due to this extreme weather event. And some projects that
are being performed by our BCEO crews are temporarily on hold
since the crews have had to focus on roadway cleanup."
Reminiscent of '78 Blizzard
Last Sunday's windstorm
was a result of the low pressure remnants of Hurricane Ike merging
with a cold front relative to a high pressure system to the southeast.
Most of Ohio and portions of Kentucky and Indiana were caught
in a very tight gradient between these two pressure systems resulting
in hurricane force winds, yet under mainly sunny conditions.
Sustained winds of 40-60 mph were reported for a five to six
hour period Sunday afternoon with gusts over 75 mph. An 84 mph
gust was reported in West Chester Township here in Butler County.
Veteran employees of
the BCEO recalled the Blizzard of '78 when comparing this storm
to those of the past. While gusty thunderstorms and tornadoes
often produce high winds and localized damage, it is not often
that this area experiences such a prolonged period of sustained
high winds and hurricane force gusts that result in such widespread
damage. The last time that occurred would have been during the
Blizzard of '78 when sustained winds of 45-60 mph and gusts over
100 mph struck Ohio. Click here
for a meteorological account of that historic event.
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For more information
Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S.,
Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 Fax 513.867.5849