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Published: Wednesday, 2/10/2010

Lucas, Wood Cos. under snow emergencies; Owens cancels classes

BY BRIDGET THARP AND CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Trooper Stacey Arnold of the Ohio Highway Patrol monitors traffic after a truck accident on U.S. 24 west of Waterville. Trooper Stacey Arnold of the Ohio Highway Patrol monitors traffic after a truck accident on U.S. 24 west of Waterville.
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The snowfall just kept coming overnight, and several counties declared snow emergencies early Wednesday.

Level 2 snow emergencies are now in Wood, Fulton, Seneca, Ottawa, and Putnam counties, while Lucas County is in a Level 1 emergency. Public safety officials warn that drivers should use extreme caution, and contact their employer to check if they should report to work. Only drive if necessary.

Level 1 snow emergencies remain in Hancock and Henry counties, which means drivers should drive cautiously and be aware of blowing and drifting snow.

Owens Community College has cenceled classes at their main campus in Perrysburg Township, Findlay location, Maumee Arrowhead Park campus, and learning center at The Source in downtown Toledo, Owens spokesman Brad Meyer said.

The University of Toledo has canceled all morning classes and closed all academic, non-clinical operations due to snow until noon. UT Medical Center and UT's outpatient clinics remain open. UTMC has extended its inclement weather emergency through noon.

UT's women's basketball game against Akron at Savage Arena will still be played at 7 p.m.

Lucas County Children's Services has canceled their Wednesday evening training classes and its board meeting because of the wintery conditions.

A tractor-trailer and car were involved in a crash are blocking part of the interstate on I-75 north of Findlay, Ohio Highway Patrol said.

No serious injuries have been reported.

The tractor-trailer jackknifed after the collision about 6:50 a.m., and the wreck remains partially blocking the northbound lane of I-75 near State Route 613 in Hancock County, troopers said.

A vehicle fire on I-75 northbound in Perrysburg Township near the I-475 split limited traffic to two lanes. No one was hurt when a pickup truck with a plow apparatus was reported to be smoking on the interstate, Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The story as it appeared in earlier editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com:

Having dodged a powerful snowstorm over the weekend, northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan residents today find themselves with up to a foot of snow on the ground — and disrupted schedules everywhere.

At least 8 inches fell yesterday in a winter wallop that closed schools and created dangerous driving conditions.

Municipalities and counties went into snow-emergency mode, banning street parking and warning residents not to drive unless the trip was necessary.

Expect more of the same today. Schools are expected to remain closed, shut-ins won't get their meals delivered, and snowplows and salt trucks will stay busy.

This is all because climatic conditions have been close to ideal for production of the light, powdery snowflakes covering the landscape, said Robert Shiels, chief meteorologist at WTOL-TV, Channel 11.

“The center of low pressure is tracking to our south,” he explained last night. “It's not only tracking — it's intensifying, to give us perfect snow.”

A snowstorm of this intensity is not exactly rare, he cautioned.

“Probably we get a snowfall of 10 inches or more once every three years,” he said.

Accumulations amounted to about 8 inches by last night. An additional 2 to 4 inches was expected by this morning.

When such a snowfall occurs, look for a lot of disruption.

Today's cancellations include deliveries by Mobile Meals of Toledo, which depends on volunteer drivers to get meals to shut-ins.

“Our volunteers' safety is very important to us. We made sure that our clients have food to carry them through two days so that our volunteers do not have to be out in poor driving conditions,” Carolyn Fox, associate executive director, said in a statement.

There were no reports of local weather-related deaths, but a southern Michigan woman died yesterday in a crash partly blamed on the snowstorm.

The 35-year-old Ypsilanti woman was killed on I-94 in the morning when her car was broadsided by a waste-hauling truck whose driver lost control about 35 miles southeast of Detroit.

In the Toledo area last night, a crash involving two tractor-trailers shut down southbound U.S. 23 at the Angola Road overpass. Nobody was injured, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol, but the 7:25 p.m. accident was at least partly caused by the snowy weather.

An hour later, southbound I-75 was closed at Berdan Avenue when a car slid into the rear of a tractor-trailer rig that was trying to avoid hitting another such rig that had slid sideways. There were no injuries.

A truck carrying 19 tons of rock salt in Sylvania Township was among the storm's first casualties yesterday morning.

The slick roads caused the driver of the dump truck to lose control about 7:35 a.m., the state patrol said. The truck overturned on its side on the I-475 southbound interchange at Central Avenue.

Some flights were delayed or canceled at Toledo Express and Detroit Metro airports, but that was because of weather elsewhere, officials said.

Most local schools were closed yesterday including Toledo Public and parochial schools, Anthony Wayne, Oregon, Bedford, Maumee, Bowling Green, Washington Local, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Findlay, Rossford, Springfield Local, Penta Career Center, and all Owens Community College locations.

Anthony Wayne Schools Superintendent John Granger said he would wait until 5:30 this morning to make the call but described the chances of having school today “pretty dismal.”

School administrators said they canceled classes yesterday because of the forecast that the heaviest of several inches of snow would fall around dismissal time.

“I was more concerned about getting them home safely than getting them into school,” Toledo schools Superintendent John Foley said.

Wind gusts of up to 20 mph and the presence of ditches lining the district's rural roads persuaded Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler to cancel school yesterday.

Gabrielle Whitzel, 7, of Toledo finds smooth sledding at Fort Miamis Park in Maumee. Classes were canceled yesterday in many area school districts because of the winter storm. Gabrielle Whitzel, 7, of Toledo finds smooth sledding at Fort Miamis Park in Maumee. Classes were canceled yesterday in many area school districts because of the winter storm.
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“Our [bus] drivers are very, very good and our buses are extremely safe and we could probably get through any weather condition with our drivers,” Mr. Hosler said. “But you think about the 16-year-old drivers that are out, the parents, the walkers and all those kinds of kids. It's always better to lean toward being safe.”

Kidz Watch of Sylvania, a day-care service, was less busy than expected for the snow day, manager Kaylene Launder said.

Normally about 25 children are expected daily, but only 13 school-age children spent the day at the center yesterday. Unlike many local child-care providers, the center stays open for snow days until a snow emergency reaches Level 3, the most severe, the manager said. Last night, Lucas County was at Level 2, which means drive only when necessary.

“We're not busier because a lot of our preschooler parents aren't bringing them in,” Ms. Launder said.

Level 1 or 2 snow emergencies were declared in Lucas, Wood, Putnam, and Hancock counties, and in the city of Bowling Green and the village of Whitehouse.

Toledo-Lucas County Public Library closed all of its branch locations yesterday because of the weather, spokesman Rhonda Sewell said.

The citizen's police academy hosted by the Toledo Police at Owens Community College is canceled for today and will resume Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Snow showers will continue today with little additional accumulation. Look for a high of 25 and a low of 11. Temperatures are expected to be lower than normal for the rest of the week, with highs in the 20s and lows possibly in single digits.

The next chance of appreciable snow will be on Sunday or Monday, forecasters said.

Elsewhere in Ohio, virtually the entire state is under a winter storm warning until at least this evening, and the state put more than 1,000 trucks into service clearing roads.

In Michigan, three people were killed yesterday in crashes blamed on the weather. Police said all three occurred when drivers lost control of their vehicles.

Hazardous road conditions also were believed to be responsible for several other accidents involving tractor-trailers and cars along I-75 in Bay County and along stretches of I-94 in western Michigan.

In Washington, federal offices will remain closed at least through today.

The federal government has largely been shut down since Friday afternoon, when a storm began dumping up to 3 feet of snow in some parts of the region.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:btharp@theblade.coor 419-724-6086.



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