Three inches of snow fell in Van Wert Wednesday, causing several accidents. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Three inches of snow fell in Van Wert Wednesday, causing several accidents. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – A surprise snow squall dumped up to three inches of snow on parts of central Van Wert County on Wednesday morning with the highest amounts falling over the Van Wert metropolitan area. The result was not only an instant blanket of white but numerous accidents on city streets and surrounding highways.

Trucks jack-knifed and several automobiles failed to stop, causing numerous accidents. County EMA director Rick McCoy said that the incidence of accidents was higher than usual because the recent mild weather had warmed the concrete and asphalt, causing falling snow to become wet and slippery on the roads.

McCoy also said that due to the lack of snow this winter and the suddenness of the storm, many of the drivers had lost their knack for certain bad weather moves on snowy and icy roads.

The sudden onslaught of snow, McCoy said, occurred from bands of lake effect snow that were forming from Lake Michigan and going farther inland than usual. Some of those squalls, said McCoy, dropped heavy to moderate snow in a short time, causing the accumulation.

“Due to the fact that we haven’t had a real hard freeze, waters of Lake Michigan are still open,” said McCoy. “As a result, the assaulting Canadian air mass that moved in late yesterday afternoon picked up more moisture than usual this time of the year and dropped the snow to the southeast of the lake.”

National Weather Service officials are currently watching the development of a storm system across the south that is predicted to go south of the area on Saturday. Current thinking of NWS officials is that heavy snow will stay to the south, although one to two inches of snow could fall in the local area.

“That still bears watching,” said McCoy. “If that system were to bend a little more to the north, it could be an entirely different story. By Friday, we should have a much better handle on that.”

McCoy said that although the weather appears to have taken more of a January-like turn, that wintry onslaught could be short-lived. He said that long-range forecast for the middle and last part of January is calling for the entire nation to sustain above normal temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation.

“If that holds, it means to look for more mild weather and rain for the middle and last part of the month again,” said McCoy. “On the other hand, as we learned on Wednesday, things can turn in a hurry.”