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Police and fire

  • 1 critical after south-side accident
    A man is in critical condition after a single-car accident at the 6400 block of Lafayette Street south of East Pettit Avenue on Friday night, according to the Fort Wayne Police Department.
  • No answers after shots ring in city
    The vehicles raced down a city street, gunfire ringing out between them.
  • Blaze heavily damages home
    A Fort Wayne family won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving at home after a fire gutted their house Wednesday. Smoke and flames were already visible from the two-story home at 3920 S. Anthony Blvd.
Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Jason Smith shovels in front of his Anthony Boulevard home Wednesday as his daughters Kylie Smith, 8, right, and Alexa Smith, 7, make snow angels.

10.4: Double-figure dig-out

Storm sets record, keeps area police, tow trucks, plows busy

Max Halberstadt skis cross-country Wednesday morning at Fox Island County Park. It and Metea County Park were open to anyone who wanted to enjoy the snow.

Tuesday’s snowstorm was no winter wonderland.

A total of 10.4 inches of wet, heavy snow throughout the Fort Wayne area led to slippery roads, dozens of vehicle slide-offs and crashes and plenty of work for snowplow drivers.

City police responded to 69 vehicle accidents from noon to midnight Tuesday, according to Fort Wayne Police Department data. Five injuries were reported at night, but none of the injuries was listed as critical.

Wednesday morning, the accidents continued, reaching 39 by noon. Of those, two involved injuries, but none was critical.

State police responded to five property damage crashes, but no accidents with injuries were reported. Officers also handled 44 slide-offs, including 14 on Interstates 69 and 469.

Allen County road crews spent all day plowing in hopes of reaching most rural areas before dark, county spokesman Mike Green said.

“(Plows) are still out there working,” Green said Wednesday afternoon. “They started about 3 a.m. this morning and have been working all day long.”

In response to drivers’ frustrations about many county roads remaining untouched throughout the day, Green said the county follows the same protocol as most cities and the state.

“We hit the ‘hot roads’ – the heavily traveled paved roads – first and then work our way out to the roads with lower traffic volume,” Green said. “We always start in those areas with high traffic.”

Wednesday’s cleanup took about 33 plow drivers a little longer than usual, he said, mostly due to the large amount of snow that fell throughout the night.

Tuesday’s snowfall in Fort Wayne reached a total of nine inches by midnight, said Courtney Obergfell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Syracuse.

The snowfall broke a record for March 5 of 2.2 inches set in 2005.

It was the third-highest one-day total for March since the weather service began keeping records in 1912.

Add Tuesday’s snowfall to the 0.6 inch that fell Monday and 1.4 inches that fell early Wednesday, and the total was just less than a foot of snow in three days, Obergfell said.

Counties north and east of Allen County saw one to four inches of snow, while those to the south of the county saw between four and seven inches, according to data provided by the National Weather Service.

The hardest-hit city was North Webster in Kosciusko County with 11.9 inches of snow in a 24-hour period on Tuesday.

Flooding ahead?

Melting snow and rain could bring significant flooding next week.

Obergfell said temperatures in the upper 40s are expected for the end of the week, and a storm system could bring an inch or two of rain by the end of Tuesday.

“That’s the issue with spring snowstorms,” she said. “They don’t stick around long, but that much snow sitting around combined with rainfall can lead to flooding.”