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December 18th, 2007

We've had worse ... but not lately.

My Albion New Era article:

The Blizzard of '07?

White out conditions and over a foot of snow caused havoc in Noble County over the weekend, fanned into drifts by 30 mph winds. The result was predictable: Roads blown shut, vehicles stuck and cancellations.

The storm started Saturday afternoon, and by 7 a.m. Sunday the National Weather Service estimated 8-9 inches had fallen over the area. Then the wind picked up, gusting close to 40 mph as another 2-4 inches fell during the day Sunday. Temperatures rose only to the mid 20's, leading to wind chill factors near zero.

The Town of Albion, City of Kendallville, and City of Ligonier each declared Level 2 Snow Emergencies, advising no one to drive except to and from work or in emergencies. A snow emergency was not issues for Noble County as a whole.

Churches and organizations across the area cancelled services. As driving conditions remained poor, all Noble County public schools canceled Monday classes.

INDOT State Highway trucks worked the highways all night, trying to fight back drifts, while Noble County Highway trucks began work at 7 a.m.

In Albion, Street Department crews came out at around 3 in the morning, and as a result were available to assist when an emergency broke out at 3:20 a.m. Albion Fire and Noble County EMS units were called to Skinner Lake Drive North for a medical assist, but the ambulance had trouble reaching the site because of snow drifts, and crews were afraid they wouldn't be able get their patient out again. An Albion snow plow was sent out to assist in accessing the scene.

Plowing roads was a losing battle overall -- high winds continued to drift roads shut, almost as quickly as they could be opened. Work continued through the day, but driving remained hazardous for the rest of the weekend and well into Monday.

Numerous vehicles, including four wheel drives, slid off the road or became stuck in drifts, which reached all the way across roadways three or more feet high. Even tow trucks and four wheel drives were unable to free some of the vehicles, which presented problems to snow plow drivers who had to figure out how to get around them. A tow truck driver trying to assist a four wheel drive vehicle, which was picking up medical personnel for their work shifts, reportedly broke a drive shaft, leaving CR 900N completely blocked until another wrecker could make its way in.

About two dozen accidents and stuck vehicles were reported between Saturday night and 8 a.m. Sunday; another two dozen were reported between then and Monday morning, with some involving injuries. A woman driving a Ford F-150 was hospitalized after she reportedly slid off SR 3, near CR 100S, late Saturday night. Apparently passers-by helped her free the vehicle and she drove to a local hospital to be treated for a leg injury. However, she didn't notify anyone and was reported missing by family members; police units from Noble, Dekalb and Allen counties spent a tense and unnecessary time searching for her before discovering she was
safe.

Several motorists were stuck inside their vehicles for some time until someone could get to them; at least one driver disregarded common sense and tried to walk away from his stuck vehicle, although luckily for him a snow plow driver found the driver and took him to a convenience store nearby.

A State Highway plow was involved in an accident near the State Highway Garage on US 6. A passing semi clipped the front of the plow at about 2:48 a.m. The semi driver reportedly stopped for a moment, then took off driving east again and didn't report the collision.

In the midst of the blizzard, a police pursuit happened on the west side of the county. A Cromwell Police officer tried to pull over a Chevy Silverado four wheel drive after allegedly seeing it run a stop sign, and the driver refused to stop for him. Ligonier Police joined the chase moments later.

That incident began at 1:16 a.m. when the truck fled north on US 33, then west on US 6, before the occupants finally stopped on Blue Road a few minutes later. Steven S. Martin, 24, of Goshen, received a felony count of OWI because of a previous conviction. His passengers, 23 year old Brandon S. Martin and 23 year old Aaron J. Menzie, both of Nappanee were charged with Public Intoxication. All three were taken, slowly, to the Noble County Jail to be held on bond. After dropping the prisoners off, the police cruiser that transported them became stuck in the jail parking lot.

The_pictures:Collapse )

More "Blizzard of 07" pics at: http://s25.photobucket.com/albums/c97/ozma914/Blizzard%20of%2007/

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