By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
---- — Freezing rain and heavy snow blanketed Howard and surrounding counties early Wednesday causing numerous accidents, school closings and power outages.
Duke Energy reported 3,919 customers were without power Wednesday morning including parts of downtown. By 10 a.m., power was restored to most areas.
Several county schools canceled classes, while a few schools sent students home after about a half a day due to blowing and accumulating snow.
Travel status for Tipton, Howard and Miami counties were all moved to yellow early Wednesday as rain turned to snow. Yellow, the lowest level of local travel advisory, means that routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation and individuals should use caution or avoid those areas.
Howard County sheriff deputies spent most the morning responding to numerous slide-offs and minor crashes. No major injuries were reported.
Howard County Emergency Management Agency Director Janice Hart said officials upgraded the road condition status to yellow at 8 a.m.
Along with accidents and power outages, officials also had numerous complaints of packed snow covering traffic lights, making the lights hard to see, Hart said.
Al Shipe, National Weather Service hydrologist, said cold temperatures will stick around today, but temperatures are expected to warm up to the 50s by Friday. Shipe said the cold will return next week.
The 3 to 4 inches that fell Wednesday pushed the season snowfall to more than 70 inches, well above the average of about 38 inches, according to the NWS data.
While most snowfall amounts from the National Weather Service are recorded out of Indianapolis and South Bend, Shipe said there are two weather observers southwest of Kokomo that keep records.
According to those reports, Shipe said Kokomo had 30.8 inches in January, 26.5 inches in February and about 7 or 8 inches so far in March. Adding a 9.4 inch-count in December and .5 in November, brings to total to about 74 inches.
Despite the more-than-average snowfall this season, the data shows this year is well below the record set in 1981-82 season when 106.3 inches of snow fell in the area.
Mike Fletcher can be reached at 765-454-8565 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.