Storm shuts down region’s schools

By ERIC SCHAADT
STAFF WRITER

Most regional schools are shut down today and snowplow crews are facing another challenge after a winter storm dropped up to 5 inches of snow on the area Tuesday night. More snow was expected overnight and today.

Hancock County government offices, the courthouse, and Findlay Municipal Court also will be closed today.

The National Weather Service said Findlay could be blanketed with 4 to 10 inches of snow by the time the storm subsides today. The snow may combine with freezing drizzle this morning, the weather service said.

Students were given the day off in the Findlay, St. Michael, Arcadia, Arlington, Bluffton, Carey, Columbus Grove and St. Anthony, Cory-Rawson, Elmwood, Fostoria, Hardin Northern, Heritage Christian, Hopewell-Loudon, Kalida, Leipsic and St. Mary, Liberty-Benton, McComb, Mohawk, New Riegel, Pandora-Gilboa, Patrick Henry, Riverdale, Tiffin, Upper Sandusky and Van Buren districts.

Hancock, Hardin and Putnam counties were under a Level 2 weather advisory Tuesday night, which asks drivers to stay home unless travel is necessary.

Counties under a Level 1 weather alert were Wood, Seneca and Allen. An alert warns drivers of hazardous travel conditions.

No road warnings were in effect Tuesday night in Henry and Wyandot counties, according to sheriff’s dispatchers there.

Ohio Department of Transportation garages reported a 5-inch snowfall in Wyandot and Hardin counties on Tuesday night, and 3 inches in Allen and Putnam counties. Less than 3 inches was reported in Hancock, Henry, Seneca and Wood counties.

More snow was expected overnight and today.

Snow removal crews in Findlay and Hancock County were gearing up for another battle.

There was a lull in the snowfall about 9 p.m. Tuesday, so Findlay officials decided to unleash the city’s full snowplow fleet about 4 a.m. this morning.

Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said 23 plows will be working to clear all city streets.

Schmelzer said if Hancock County Sheriff Mike Heldman declares a Level 3 roadway emergency, the city will issue its own snow emergency. Under a snow emergency, the city may prohibit parking on any or all city streets to allow snowplows to do their work. Any vehicles in the way may be towed and their owners fined.

Similarly, McComb on Tuesday asked village residents to not park vehicles on designated snow emergency routes.

Hancock County Engineer Chris Long said 17 county trucks would be clearing roads beginning at 4 a.m. today. His department was anticipating about 8 inches of snow.

Ohio Department of Transportation snowplows were on the job Tuesday night.

“We’re asking the public to use good common sense” when traveling, said Mark Drerup, manager of the Ohio Department of Transportation garage in Hancock County.

Drerup said his department is working 12-hour shifts, with 17 trucks on the roads each shift.

“We don’t go home,” Drerup said. The state shifts will run from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The wind, he said, might not be as much of a problem with this storm as in other recent snowstorms.

“The wind isn’t going to be crazy strong,” Drerup said.

Area law enforcement agencies were reporting minor, slide-off traffic accidents Tuesday night.

Courier reporter Joy Brown contributed to this story.

Schaadt: 419-427-8414
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