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Published: Saturday, 12/10/2005

Shoveling, sledding vie for time as area digs out

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Falling temperatures last night accentuated by brisk winds replaced the falling snow of the night before.

The thermometer was expected to dip to 10 degrees overnight, with a wind chill as low as 5 below.

The snowfall Thursday night and early yesterday reached an accumulation of 9.2 inches at Toledo Express Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

It blew into the region late Thursday afternoon, snarling traffic, causing numerous fender benders, and forcing plow crews out en masse. It also closed most schools in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Lowell Webb was not as pleased as his three young sons to see the snow piled on his driveway yesterday morning.

After spending the morning shoveling and shoveling and shoveling, Mr. Webb, 32, of East Toledo, bundled up his boys and headed to nearby Waite High School where, one by one, he pushed them down a sledding hill.

"I saw the snow and said, 'Oh no, I'll have to see what we're going to do today to keep them occupied,'‚óŹ" said Mr. Webb, who works third shift at a local construction company, after learning schools weren't opening.

Presumably, the boys liked their dad's decision.

Statewide, two traffic deaths were blamed on snowy conditions, including one near Fremont, where a Bettsville, Ohio, woman was killed about 9:45 p.m. Thursday when her car went left of center on U.S. 6 and collided with an oncoming pickup.

Monica Rhodes, 24, was northbound on U.S. 6 near Napoleon Road in Sandusky Township when her car crossed the center line and collided with a pickup driven by Pedro Gonzalez-Pena, 29, of Fremont, troopers at the Ohio Highway Patrol's Fremont post said.

She was pronounced dead at the scene; he sustained minor injuries that did not require medical treatment, troopers said.

The snowstorm left a lasting impression.

Defiance, Napoleon, Wauseon, Paulding, and Ottawa recorded 8 inches of snow. At least 7 inches fell in Hillsdale, Montpelier, and Van Wert; at least 6 inches in Adrian and Columbus Grove, and at least 5 inches in Monroe and Lima. To the east of Toledo, snowfall amounts ranged from 4 inches in Fremont to 3 inches in Sandusky.

Lucas County, which established a Level 2 snow emergency 3 1/2 hours into the storm, downgraded it to a Level 1 at 4 p.m. yesterday.

A Level 1 emergency means roads are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow.

The Ohio Highway Patrol reminded drivers to continue driving cautiously, even if the road appears to be salted and clear. Freezing temperatures mean the roads could be slick.

Locally, many students enjoyed a day off at their favorite sledding hill.

Snow-covered hills in Pearson Metropark in Oregon and in Toledo's Ottawa, Highland, and Delaware parks were dotted with red-cheeked children wrapped in colorful puffy coats.

Greg Glowczewski, 46, of Point Place stayed warm in his truck in Ottawa Park yesterday, watching his 14-year-old daughter climb the hills and then swiftly slide down. But his decision to remain cozy had nothing to do with the elements.

"I brought my daughter and her friend. They're freshmen, so they probably don't want me with them," he said.

Chris Mosher, 15, said he called three friends after learning that Genoa Area Local Schools were closed for the day. The boys ended up at Pearson Metropark for a couple hours of sledding and then had to make a big decision.

"We might shovel sidewalks for money," the Genoa High School 10th grader said. "Or we might have a snowball fight."

The snow should be sticking around for such activities.

After some early sun, today will be cloudy with highs around 30. The wind will remain brisk at 25 mph. There is a chance of snow tonight, tomorrow, and Monday, according to the weather service.

Blade staff writer Jennifer Feehan contributed to this report. Information from the Associated Press also was used.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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