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Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Charlie Angus almost loses a glove to his dog, St. Patty, on Thursday in his driveway on Rudisill Boulevard.

Dig out, then bundle up

Deep freeze on the way after 7-inch snowfall blankets area

City plows startle a flock of starlings in the middle of South Wayne Avenue on Thursday.

A little more than 7 inches of snow topped vehicles, homes and sidewalks in and around Fort Wayne late Wednesday and much of the day Thursday, creating hairy travel conditions.

“In terms of snowfall, Allen County was as high as anybody in the surrounding area,” said Nathan Marsili, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Syracuse.

Surrounding areas – including Whitley, Adams, Huntington and Wabash counties in Indiana and Paulding County in Ohio – issued advisories for travelers Thursday as roads remained snow-covered and drifts accumulated throughout the day.

Across the city, police and emergency personnel responded to numerous slide-offs and reports of vehicles stuck in the snow.

Scott Hinderman, executive director of airports for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, said at least four flights had to be canceled Thursday – but none due to problems in Fort Wayne.

One flight was headed to Dallas, and three others were traveling to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, he said.

“Nobody’s going to be spending the night here, but we had a few cancellations,” he said.

Through email and text message alerts, most of the affected travelers learned of the cancellations before they arrived at the airport, he said.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, 7.1 inches of snow had fallen at the airport – 1.8 inches late Wednesday and 5.3 inches Thursday.

Although the snowfall is over for most of today and Saturday, bone-chilling temperatures are ahead for early next week, Marsili said.

Saturday’s high temperature is expected to reach 30 degrees, but it won’t last long, he said.

“We’ll have a brief warm-up, and then there’s a storm system approaching this weekend,” Marsili said.

On Monday, temperatures aren’t likely to reach higher than 5 degrees, and Tuesday’s high temperature could be just 5 below zero.

Wind chills reaching 30 to 40 degrees below zero will make the cold temperatures even worse, he added.

“We’re going into quite a cold outbreak,” Marsili said.

The last time Fort Wayne had temperatures that low was Feb. 10, 2011, when thermometers bottomed out at minus 13 degrees, he said.

Unnecessary travel

As temperatures drop into the single digits, forecasters, state officials and emergency personnel warn local residents to stay warm, stay dry and – as often as possible – stay inside.

Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday said that although state transportation leaders will continue to monitor road conditions and weather and will respond with plows and trucks, motorists may still be at risk.

“As winter weather continues throughout much of the state, we also encourage drivers in affected areas to stay safe by avoiding unnecessary travel and making way for plow trucks and crews on the roads,” Pence said in a statement.

For those required to venture outdoors, the Fort Wayne Fire Department encourages residents to dress in layers of lightweight clothing, which holds heat inside better than single, heavy coats, and to not forget mittens, hats, knit masks and insulated boots.

And for those brave enough to wander outside with a shovel, the U.S. Postal Service asks for help clearing the snow and ice from pathways, driveways and sidewalks to make it easier for carriers to deliver mail.

Delivery service may be delayed or shortened whenever streets or walkways present hazardous conditions for letter carriers, or if there’s too much snow plowed against mailboxes, the postal service said.

jcrothers@jg.net

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