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Published: Monday, 12/13/2010

Snowstorm wreaks havoc, closes Toledo area schools

UPDATE: Huron County issued a Level 2 weather advisory on Monday morning, while Hancock, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, and Wood counties were under a Level 1 advisory.

Those advisories, issued by the respective county sheriff's office, address snow-covered and icy roadways and urge motorists to avoid travel or drive with caution.

For a list of school delays and closings, CLICK HERE:

School delays and closures Dec. 13, 2010

Although area residents awoke to snow and cold Monday morning, they were lucky compared to residents of other Midwest states, officials said.

Though several slide offs were reported Monday morning, most roadways are “fairly passable,” said Lt. Dean Laubacher, post commander for the Ohio Highway Patrol in Bowling Green.

“The main roadways are becoming pretty clear. It's the blowing and drifting of the snow that's causing some icy conditions,” Lieutenant Laubacher said. “Take your time to give yourself some extra time to travel where you need to go today.”

Most of the area's schoolchildren awoke to the possibility of a delayed start to their day, only to learn that they would be given a day off of school when districts canceled classes because of the snow and cold. Only Toledo Public Schools among the largest districts had no delays and was in session on Monday.

Sylvania Schools called off lessons after an initial delay “due to the blowing and drifting snow in the outlying areas, because the superintendent and the transportation director determined it just wasn't getting better in those areas,” said district spokesperson Nancy Crandall. The school board meeting scheduled Monday evening will not be canceled.

A powerful, gusty storm dumped mounds of snow across the upper Midwest Sunday, closing major highways in several states, canceling more than 1,600 flights in Chicago, and collapsing the roof of the Minnesota Vikings' stadium.

At least six weather-related deaths were reported as the storm system dropped nearly 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and marched east.

A blizzard warning had been in effect for parts of eastern Iowa, southeastern Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois, and northern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

Surrounding areas, including Chicago, were under winter storm warnings. Much of Iowa was under a wind-chill advisory.

In Minneapolis, heavy snow left the Metrodome unready for some football.

Video inside the stadium showed the inflatable Teflon roof sagging before it tore open, dumping massive amounts of snow across one end of the playing field.

No one was hurt, but the Vikings' game against the New York Giants had to be moved to Detroit's Ford Field. The day of the game had already been pushed back from Sunday to Monday because the storm kept the Giants from reaching Minneapolis on time.

The wintry weather, with blowing snow that severely limited visibility, wreaked havoc on air and road travel.

In the Chicago area, wind gusts of up to 50 mph, temperatures in the teens, and wind chills well below zero were expected, along with up to 8 inches of snow.

At least 1,375 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 300 were canceled at Midway International Airport, Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Karen Pride said.

Frieda the Falcon, one of Bowling Green State University's mascots, squares off with Logan McGuire, 9, of Perrysburg in a snowball fight outside of Anderson Arena. Frieda the Falcon, one of Bowling Green State University's mascots, squares off with Logan McGuire, 9, of Perrysburg in a snowball fight outside of Anderson Arena.
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Both airports expected more cancellations and reported significant delays.

Officials at O'Hare set up about 200 cots and will provide amenity kits containing toothpaste and toothbrushes in case travelers get stranded at the airport, Ms. Pride said.

In northwest Ohio Sunday, the season's first major snowfall created a slew of traffic mishaps but no serious accidents, authorities said.

Rain began Saturday night but by midmorning Sunday the winter weather that gripped the Midwest had northwest Ohio in its clutches as a steady snow fell.

Wood and Hancock counties declared Level 1 snow emergencies at about 6:15 p.m. and law enforcement agencies throughout the region were dealing with fender-benders and motorists who slid off the road.

A Level 1 snow emergency is the least urgent of the three levels. A winter weather advisory was in effect for most of the region, including southeast Michigan.

Compared to the rest of the country, northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan got a break on the bad weather.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland said the advisory would remain in effect until 1 p.m. Monday.

Additional accumulations of 1 to 3 inches were expected. Winds last night were blowing between 15 to 25 mph. The windchill at 9 p.m. was 5 degrees, the weather service said.

Monday's high was expected to be around 18 degrees.

Major highways in several states were closed because of poor driving conditions and accidents.

In Indianapolis, police said a man fatally stabbed his wife, then died four blocks from his home when his vehicle hit a tree after he lost control on a slippery road. Police did not release the names of the couple.

Snow breaks through the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. No one at the stadium was hurt Sunday, but the Vikings' Monday night game against the New York Giants will be moved to Ford Field in Detroit. Snow breaks through the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. No one at the stadium was hurt Sunday, but the Vikings' Monday night game against the New York Giants will be moved to Ford Field in Detroit.

Illinois State Police closed a section of I-80 in the north central part of the state after a multiple-car pileup west of Peru and part of I-55 near Springfield after accidents and reports of zero visibility. No deaths were reported.

Seven vehicles crashed on I-94 about 50 miles west of Milwaukee, prompting authorities to close the westbound lanes. A vehicle lost control on an ice-covered road and slammed into a tree in southeastern Wisconsin, killing 21-year-old Alejandria Abaunza of Chicago and injuring two other people inside.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle declared a state of emergency for the state's 72 counties as a precaution, calling the National Guard to active duty to help local authorities.

"Conditions continue to deteriorate and it is becoming critically important for vehicles to stay off the roadways," Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent David Collins said.

In Wisconsin, wind gusts were as high as 70 mph, the National Weather Service said, and an advisory was issued with wind-chill temperatures expected to drop to minus 20 to minus 27.

I-90 from Albert Lea, Minn., to Exit 410 in South Dakota reopened Sunday after being closed Saturday because blowing snow reduced visibility. Minnesota state highways also reopened, although transportation officials warned that many were still snow-compacted, icy and, in numerous cases, down to a single lane.

Authorities in Michigan said an 80-year-old man was killed when his pickup rolled over on slippery U.S. 131 in Montcalm County near Sand Lake, while a 75-year-old woman died in a Livingston County crash.

WOOD-TV says the victim was an 80-year-old from the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming.

WHMI-FM says 75-year-old Frieda Merry was killed when her mini van collided with an oncoming vehicle in L ivingston County's Howell Township.

In Minnesota, authorities said weather played a role in the death of Douglas Munneke, 55, of St. Cloud, Minn. He died of a heart attack after collapsing while he was snow-blowing his driveway Saturday.

In western Wisconsin, a 79-year-old man snow-blowing the end of his driveway was killed when a plow truck backed into him. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Department said Clifford Larson of Woodville died at the scene.

Snow also blanketed Tennessee, where up to 8 inches was expected by Monday evening. WSMV-TV in Nashville reported that the bad weather forced several communities to cancel Christmas parades planned for Sunday.

The weather was an unexpected burden for a Minnesota man who had pledged to camp out on the roof of a coffee shop to help his daughter's school raise money.

Hospital executive Robert Stevens donned four layers of long underwear, heavy boots, and a down coat before embarking on his quest Friday night.

He had vowed not to come down until he had raised $100,000, but he reconsidered about 3 p.m. Saturday after high winds shredded his tent canopy.

But Sunday morning Mr. Stevens headed back up to brave the subzero wind-chills. He had only raised $54,000 and said if he didn't get to his goal the school would likely close.

"Mother Nature won out yesterday — but I'm looking for the win today," he said.

Blade staff contributed to this report.

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