Winter storm snarls roads

A winter storm that brought snow and wind into the region snarled traffic and closed schools today.

“At about 5 a.m. today, all 15 drivers were out on the roads,” Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart said this morning. “It’s a heavy snow, and fortunately that means it won’t drift as bad.”

Rain turned into freezing rain and then snow Thursday night into this morning. The storm forced St. Marys, Wapakoneta, Celina, Minster, New Bremen and New Knoxville to cancel school. There also were reports of a few vehicles that ended up in ditches along county roads this morning, including one along Ohio 66 near New Bremen.

As county crews battled the falling snow, Reinhart said Mother Nature would play a key role in determining if roads remained clear or snow covered today and into Saturday.

“They are projecting 45 mph winds and that will cause some drifting,” Reinhart said. “We are applying salt and beet juice to the intersections, curves and railroad crossings but not the entire system because of the wind.”

If the wind remains in the 25 mph to 45 mph range, it could impact the ability of the road crews to keep roads clear to the pavement. Once the wind subsidies, Reinhart said he is confident roads will remain clear once crews make a pass.

“We’ll be plowing all day and into the evening and probably tomorrow before daybreak,” Reinhart said. “Once that wind dies down, we will be able to put an application on and it should get them cleared up, but it’s awfully greasy out there.”

Reinhart stressed caution for motorists traveling throughout the county today.

“Slow down, that slush is heavy and can really pull a car,” Reinhart said. “After spending seven months driving 55 mph to work, we need to leave extra time now.”

Wapakoneta Public Works Superintendent Meril Simpson said the city had its five snowplows and two loaders out on the streets shortly before 5 a.m. They didn’t go out Thursday and use any of the brine to put down a layer of salt.

“We didn’t use the brine because of the rain or we would have pre-treated yesterday (Thursday),” Simpson said. “I think the roads look pretty good. It was pretty slushy and wasn’t freezing so we were trying to get the snow-water mix off the roads. The trucks are still out and we salted all the mains and now on the secondary roads.”

Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Anderson monitored the storm as it rolled into the region Thursday. He noted the biggest hurdle today is the wind.

“That’s going to be a problem for the larger profile vehicles, the semis and SUVs,” Anderson said this morning. “Basically all the major roads seem clear and the road crews are working. It’s the secondary roads and in-town roads that are the trouble spots so far.”

Anderson predicted the wind should subside after midnight. He also received no reports of power outages associated with the storm.

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