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Snow, ice hammer area

March 6, 2013

Wapakoneta Electric Department lineman Levi Cecil plows snow in a Bobcat on Mechanic Street near the Wapakoneta Fire Department.

A snow storm that dumped more than 7 inches of snow on the region snarled morning traffic, closed area schools and forced residents throughout Auglaize County to dig out of what could be the season’s last storm.

Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson said he measured between 7 and 8 inches of snow throughout Auglaize County. Drifts can top 3 feet.

“If you have to go out today, be extremely careful while driving,” Anderson said this morning. “I am out now and a lot of the roads have not been plowed yet — they have been focusing on the main routes. I was just on (Ohio) 364 and it was down to one lane, if that.”

Wapakoneta Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said city crews intend to work throughout the day on clearing and cleaning streets of snow and ice.

“We handled the snow well, but the way the event started with us having rain and sleet first — when we took the snow off, the wet residue and rain and sleet underneath froze,” Rains said.

“We are working on it.

Rains said Public Works Department crews started at 9 p.m. and worked throughout the event, with additional personnel coming in after midnight to try and stay ahead of the storm.

The ice underneath the heavy, wet snow is the problem city crews intend to work on throughout today, the safety-service director said.

“Unfortunately Mother Nature is not going to help us, but we have plowed pretty much the streets we are going to plow and now we are going to put salt down and with the temperatures rising to about 35 degrees that should help break up the ice,” Rains said. “We will let the salt work and then we will plow again. We are at Mother Nature’s mercy right now, if the sun would come out we would be in much better shape.”

The safety-service director estimated one-half inch thick of ice underneath the snow, and “that is what is killing us, but we will keep at it.”

Wapakoneta weather observer Dan Dietz recorded 4 inches of snow on Tuesday with a couple additional inches before 2 a.m. today.

Wapakoneta City Schools, Waynesfield-Goshen Schools, Botkins Local Schools and St. Marys City Schools all closed today.

Law enforcement throughout the region have handled calls regarding vehicles sliding off roads. The Auglaize County Council on Aging closed its doors today and Mercer County was under a Level II snow emergency at one point during the storm.

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey eventually downgraded it to a Level I as of press time.

Rain and sleet moved into the region ahead of the snow. Anderson said that helped keep snowfall totals on the lower end of estimates.

“When we started to transition to snow, at about 8 p.m., that heavy, wet snow just stuck to the roads and it piled on,” Anderson said. “The rain was nice because it stayed a little later and it meant less snow. After the transition at 8 p.m. and until 2 a.m., we still got about 7 to 8 inches. If it snowed all day and into the evening, we would have had significantly more snow.”

With the snow moving out, local residents could be faced with another issue in the coming days. Temperatures are expected to flirt with 60 degrees by Sunday, posing the risk of localized flooding as the snow melts.

“That’s something we are looking into,” Anderson said of the threat of flooding. “I have not done a moisture check out of this snow yet. I’ll be doing that today. We’ll be looking at that core sample and melting it to see what we have.”

For residents who live near areas that tend to flood during heavy periods of precipitation, Anderson offered a bit of advice.

“If they are next to a creek, see what the level is, go out and look at the banks,” Anderson said. “Take a picture of the creeks, that’s what I am doing now. That way, you will have a reference to see how much it has risen, where it was at and where it could be going. You also could put out a marking stick next to it so you have an idea of how fast it is climbing and how much time you have for protection.”

 

Wapakoneta Daily News Managing Editor William Laney contributed to this story.

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