Heavy Snow Batters Ohio Valley States

March 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A foot of snow buried parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys early Saturday, shutting down travel and many public events.Blizzard warnings remained in effect in Ohio, with winter storm warnings from Tennessee to upstate New York and northern Maine. Wind up to 35 mph whipped the snow and cut visibility to less than a quarter mile in places, the weather service said.

"We're getting a lot of drifting and poor visibility out here," said State Highway Patrol Sgt. Rod Moser in Circleville, Ohio. Two semitrailers jackknifed on Interstate 71, about 20 miles south of Columbus, he said.

As much as 10 inches of snow fell overnight in Ohio, where up to 5 more inches was possible, and 13 inches fell on north-central Kentucky's Owen County, the National Weather Service said. Middle Tennessee got up to a foot. Louisville, Ky., had 11 inches to shovel and plow. Up to a foot was possible by Sunday in western New York, meteorologists said. Even Mississippi got 5 to 7 inches of snow in northern parts of the state, the weather service said.

The wind piled snow into drifts as much as 5 feet high in parts of central Kentucky, police dispatcher John Woosley said.

It was a continuation of the storm that on Friday piled up snow a foot deep in Arkansas and blacked out thousands of homes and businesses from that state to the Great Lakes.

One Ohio traffic death was blamed on the weather Friday, with two in western New York State and one in Tennessee. Two people were killed as tornadoes struck several Florida communities.

Many flights into and out of Ohio were delayed or canceled. At Port Columbus International Airport, a plane skidded a few hundred feet off a runway while landing late Friday, but no one was hurt, airport spokeswoman Angie Neal said. Dozens of flights were canceled Friday in Cleveland and Columbus.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport remained open as 25 plows worked around the clock to keep runways clear, airport spokesman Todd Payne said. The airport has about 250 daily flights on the weekends.

Continental Airlines, which uses Cleveland as a hub, canceled about two-thirds of its flights Saturday, Payne said. "I would imagine, based on Continental's figures, we'll probably cancel about 50 flights today," he said. About 60 Delta Air Lines flights were canceled at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, airline spokeswoman Gina Laughlin said.

More than 100 motorists had to be rescued from stuck vehicles during the night in Louisville, said Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jerry Abramson. Kentucky had about 1,000 plows on state roads, said Chuck Wolfe of the highway department.

Hundreds of weekend events were canceled, including Ohio girls high school basketball championship games in Columbus and several Kentucky boys basketball tournament games. The University of Louisville canceled Saturday classes.