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Published: 1/6/2005

'Wintry mix' creates chaos on roads, shuts schools; Deshler driver killed

BY ERICA BLAKE AND MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Monica Witing of Port Clinton put the scraper to her car. Monica Witing of Port Clinton put the scraper to her car.
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John Smith, left, and Adnan Abuhamad shovel outside the Glendale Shops on Glendale at the Anthony Wayne Trail. John Smith, left, and Adnan Abuhamad shovel outside the Glendale Shops on Glendale at the Anthony Wayne Trail.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

Moisture sweeping out of the Plains states wreaked havoc in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan yesterday as the addition of cold air created snow, sleet, and, in some areas, freezing rain.

Roads were slick, regardless of what was falling.

Maureen Bishop, 22, of Deshler, Ohio, was killed when her car went out of control at 11:35 a.m. on icy Henry County Road 2, struck a utility pole, and overturned, Henry County sheriff's deputies said.

The National Weather Service measured more than 2 1/2 inches of snow at Toledo Express Airport. Rain fell for much of the day in Wyandot County, to the south, while Monroe, Lenawee, and Hillsdale counties in Michigan received all snow. What fell in between was labeled a "wintry mix." Regional radar

Hancock, Lucas, Putnam and Wood counties are under Level 1 snow emergencies this morning.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until noon today for Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Wood counties. Light freezing rain ,sleet and snow will become heavier during the day. A snowfall total by late tonight will be 3 to locally 5 inches with ice accumulations up to one quarter of an inch. Motorists will have to use caution.

"I think we'll all see it end in the morning hours [today]," said Ken Reeves, chief meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc., a private forecasting service in State College, Pa.

"You may wake up to snow, sleet, or freezing rain, but I think it will taper off and then stay dry."

The high today will be 31, with temperatures rising to a partly cloudy 44 by Sunday.

The weather service posted flood warnings for the Auglaize, Blanchard, Maumee, Portage, and Tiffin rivers. The Blanchard was expected to crest between 13 1/2 and 14 feet at Findlay, nearly 3 feet above flood stage. Authorities reported no flooding problems last night.

The weather service also predicted moderate flooding along the Maumee at Grand Rapids and Waterville.

The snow, sleet, and freezing rain were part of a mass of cold air that brought a record low of 39 below zero in Grand Forks, N.D. Embarrass, Minn., hit minus 43, the National Weather Service said.

In southeast Michigan, among the areas expected to be hardest hit with snow were communities north and west of Detroit.

Most county sheriffs in northwest Ohio did not declare snow emergencies. Wood and Ottawa counties were at Level 2, advising drivers to travel only if necessary. Sheriffs of Allen, Hancock, Lucas, Putnam, Sandusky, and Seneca counties set the emergency at Level 1, advising drivers to be careful on slippery roads.

A two-vehicle crash about 1:20 p.m. on State Rt. 64 north of Bowling Green sent four people, including two children, to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in critical condition, troopers at the Walbridge post of the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

Troopers said a southbound sport utility vehicle driven by Amanda Fleming, 31, of Haskins, and a northbound van driven by Barry Roberts, 51, of Haskins collided on the icy highway. Both drivers were extricated from their vehicles. The drivers and Ms. Fleming's passengers, Austin Fleming, 6, and Aaron Fleming, 4, were taken to Wood County Hospital before being transferred to St. Vincent.

Most area schools canceled classes yesterday with plans of gauging today's situation early this morning. Toledo Public Schools shut its doors for the first time this school year, a decision made after first calling a two-hour delay. Officials will decide by 7 a.m. today whether classes will again be canceled, said Dan Burns, the district's chief business manager.

Several early flights from Toledo Express Airport were canceled. Delays over an hour were reported for some later flights. Several airlines, including Northwest and American, allowed passengers traveling to or from Ohio, Michigan, and other states affected by the storm to postpone trips without penalty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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