Blizzard Pounds Region

ST. MARYS — A winter storm that blanketed the region today was expected to dump close to a foot of snow on Auglaize County.

Late Tuesday night, the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Auglaize County. That warning, which is in effect until 1 a.m. Thursday, called for 8 to 10 inches of snow as well as wind gusts of 40 mph. The high winds, coupled with heavy snowfall, caused near white-end conditions and posed risks to motorists who traversed city and county roads today.

“I am sticking with that higher snow amount — probably 6 to 10 inches,” Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson told The Evening Leader this morning. “Some were predicting up to 14 inches, but I just don’t see it. It started snowing here at about 6:30 a.m. and by 8 a.m., we’ve probably got half an inch already.”

Road crews across the county took to snow plows early this morning in an effort to keep roads passable. Local law enforcement also fielded several calls reporting vehicles in ditches.

“From what I am seeing, the east/west roads are the worst as far as being snow covered,” Anderson said. “The north/south roads are slippery and with that amount of snow coming down, there is going to be some ice. If you don’t have to be out driving, stay home.”

For those who had to venture out, Anderson stressed safety and patience.

“Give yourself extra time,” Anderson said. “What we are seeing with some of the slide-offs is that people are using their cell phones to take pictures and that causes another accident. Concentrate on driving and get past the scene so we can keep traffic flowing.”

In the event of power outages, shelters are ready to be mobilized.

“The county EOC is up and on stand-by,” Anderson said. “We are ready to go.”

Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart planned to keep crews busy throughout the day clearing roads.

“It will be a busy day for us,” Reinhart said. “The winds are going to dictate how well we control and clean the roads. Right now, we are looking at 20 mph winds.”

Reinhart doubted if crews would be able to keep roads clear today. The high winds meant roads that were once clear became snow covered in a matter of minutes.

“The positive is that the snow is supposed to stop late this evening and the prediction is the wind speeds will be less than 10 mph tomorrow,” Reinhart said. “If what they are saying is true, we will be able to clear and treat the roads with salt and beet juice and as long as the wind doesn’t cross that 10 mph barrier, we should have the roads clean and clear by tomorrow night.”

If motorists encounter snow plows, Reinhart stressed the importance of giving drivers enough room to maneuver.

“Give us room — especially near intersections because when we plow the intersections, we push back all four corners,” Reinhart said. “That means we do some backing up and if you are too close to the trucks, the driver won’t see you.”