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Published: Monday, 12/10/2007

Freezing rain coats all in icy glaze

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tom Benecke, a Government Center security guard, scrapes a truck window in a chilly task necessitated by the storm. Tom Benecke, a Government Center security guard, scrapes a truck window in a chilly task necessitated by the storm.
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It was too icy yesterday to play hockey in Sylvania.

The game between Clay and Maumee high schools, to have been played at the Tam-O-Shanter rink, was among numerous events canceled or postponed because of freezing rain from a winter storm that passed through the area.

Holiday parties and pageants, church services, and other events also became victims of the weather, though conditions turned out to be far less hazardous than forecasters had predicted they might become.

A rollover crash suspected of being weather-related closed southbound I-75 in Rossford yesterday morning, and later in the day many rural roads became coated with ice. Multiple crashes on I-75 and U.S. 23 snarled traffic yesterday evening.

In nature, however, the beauty of the ice was apparent, such as in these branches along River Road near Side Cut Metropark. In nature, however, the beauty of the ice was apparent, such as in these branches along River Road near Side Cut Metropark.
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"The side roads are treacherous," said Sgt. Michael Roberts at the Michigan State Police post in Monroe. "It's a real mess. I wouldn't even walk out there."

And the Lucas County Sheriff's Office reported last night that Springfield Township road maintenance forces weren't going to venture out onto the roadways until 5 a.m. today.

But no serious injuries were reported either from the Rossford rollover or numerous other spin-outs, slide-offs, and fender-benders in the region.

The ice also brought isolated power outages to Hicksville and Bowling Green, where transformers iced over and failed, and to Haskins, where an unknown problem with the municipal electric utility blacked out most of the village for at least several hours.

In nature, however, the beauty of the ice was apparent, such as in these branches along River Road near Side Cut Metropark. In nature, however, the beauty of the ice was apparent, such as in these branches along River Road near Side Cut Metropark.
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The Haskins village hall was established as an emergency shelter for anyone left without heat by the blackout.

But for most of the region, the storm brought less misery than expected, as ice-storm warnings posted early in the day for the entire area were downgraded by midafternoon to freezing-rain advisories everywhere but Monroe and Lenawee counties.

"I think we were kind of lucky," said Frank Kieltyka, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

"With the time of year, the ground wasn't really cold yet, and the temperatures were not that far below freezing, so we didn't get as much icing as we might have."

Also helping matters was a fairly light wind, which reduced the risk of tree branches or power lines snapping under icy stress.

Mr. Kieltyka said winds are forecast to remain light into tomorrow, welcome news considering that more freezing rain is possible tonight.

"If [winds] were stronger, things would definitely be worse," the meteorologist said yesterday afternoon.

Motorists like this one on River Road near Side Cut Metropark encountered hazardous conditions in city and country alike.
Motorists like this one on River Road near Side Cut Metropark encountered hazardous conditions in city and country alike.
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As it was, icing reports were greatest west and north of Toledo, where a quarter-inch or more of freezing rain accumulated.

Farther east, the storm was strictly rain during the day, though freezing drizzle was possible overnight.

Frank Butler, Clay's hockey coach, said the decision to call off his team's game against Maumee was made by administrators from both school districts because of uncertainty about travel conditions.

He acknowledged some irony in a hockey game being called because of ice.

Other events called off because of the weather included the holiday open house at Fort Meigs State Memorial in Perrysburg, a United Auto Workers' Christmas tree lighting, and all Catholic Youth Organization basketball games in the Toledo diocese.

Freezing rain occurs when warmer air aloft overrides a thin layer of subfreezing air near the ground.

All precipitation starts in frozen form when it falls out of clouds, but it melts into rain when exposed to above-freezing temperatures.

If the colder surface air mass below the warm air is thick enough for the rain to refreeze before hitting the ground, it becomes sleet.

Skies are expected to remain cloudy in the Toledo area today, but with temperatures warming slightly above freezing, Mr. Kieltyka said.

Precipitation tonight will start out as freezing rain, but will become showers tomorrow when surface temperatures rise above 32 degrees again, he said.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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