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First winter storm blankets Fort Wayne with snow

Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 9:37 am

It came a day late for people hoping for a white Christmas, but Fort Wayne's first winter storm of the season blanketed the city with snow Wednesday morning.

The snow began to fall at about 9 a.m. and had accumulated to at least 2 inches just before 1 p.m. By 6 p.m., a total of 4 inches had fallen, according to the National Weather Service.

The snow, combined with gusty conditions, created a treacherous drive for some motorists during the day.

Mary Foster, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said highway officials had received multiple reports of crashes and slide-offs on state roads, but she did not have an exact number.

Police radio traffic throughout the morning and early afternoon indicated many accidents, as emergency workers responded to vehicles that slid off roads and into ditches. Police responded after a car hit a tree on Smith Road south of Engel Road just before 1 p.m., but no injures were reported. Several slide-offs and accidents were reported along Interstate 69 between the 319 and 321 exits.

During the day, traffic and shopping were lighter than might be usual on the day after Christmas, but the streets weren't abandoned.

Kroger spokesman John Elliott said Wednesday was a “moderate” day at Fort Wayne-area Kroger stores.

At Jefferson Pointe and Apple Glen shopping centers on the city's southwest side, parking lots were generally one-fourth to half full Wednesday.

Home Bound Meals was serving its clients Wednesday, despite the falling snow and slippery streets. Carolyn Barbier, who works part time at Home Bound Meals, said Wednesday that drivers were dispatched to deliver meals in the morning, before the snow started.

Local and state transportation departments deployed dozens of trucks to plow and salt roads. Foster said INDOT's Fort Wayne district deployed all 144 of its plow trucks, which would work around the clock until the snow ended and the roads stopped drifting.

The Fort Wayne street department activated 38 plow trucks, focusing on main routes used by fire trucks and ambulances, city spokesman Frank Suarez said. Later Wednesday, Suarez said 40 trucks would plow streets and salt intersections all night to improve driving conditions.

Of the 17 outgoing flights scheduled from Fort Wayne International Airport, one to Dallas had been delayed and one to Detroit was canceled as of 1:45 p.m. One incoming flight from Dallas also had been delayed, according to the airport's online flight schedule.