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MIDWEST SNOWFALL CUTS POWER, SETS RECORDS

SHARE MIDWEST SNOWFALL CUTS POWER, SETS RECORDS

Heavy, wet snow falling over the Midwest caused widespread power outages in Ohio and Indiana Thursday, with Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis among the cities setting records for earliest measurable snowfall.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Ohio and hundreds in the Indianapolis area and southern Indiana were blacked out when snow caused branches to snap onto power lines. Some schools were closed.Three to 5 inches of snow fell overnight in Cincinnati, Dayton and other areas of southwestern Ohio, according to the National Weather Service. It was the earliest snowfall in Dayton since 1912.

The snow followed a drop in temperatures from the upper 70s and low 80s Monday and Tuesday into the upper 20s and low 30s early Thursday.

Two Cincinnati radio stations were knocked off the air temporarily by the power outages, which affected an estimated 100,000 customers in the area. Up to 3 inches of wet snow that melted quickly was reported in other areas of Ohio.

Ohio Edison reported 20,000 customers in the Akron area were briefly without service Thursday morning, said spokesman Ralph DiNicola. About 10,000 Columbus Southern Power customers in central Ohio were without service between 4 and 4:30 a.m., but fewer than 100 remained without power by 8:30 a.m., said spokesman Barrie Brandt.

The snow was caused by a low pressure system over the southeastern United States, combined with a high-level system over Missouri that pumped arctic air into the Midwest.

A snow advisory was issued for all of Indiana through Thursday night. By midmorning, Richmond, due east of Indianapolis near the Ohio border, and Hartford City, further north, reported 3 inches of snow, the weather service said. Weather-watchers in Elwood, just north of Indianapolis in central Indiana, reported snowfall of 5 inches.

The heavy flakes stacked up on leafy trees, breaking boughs that snapped power lines across central Indiana. Several hundred Indianapolis Power & Light Co. customers were without electricity because of broken lines Thursday morning after 2 inches of snow fell.

Hundreds of Public Service Indiana customers were without power in Bloomington, Martinsville, Greenwood, Columbus, Franklin, Madison, Connersville and Clarksville, all in southern Indiana. Pam Chapman, a Public Service Indiana spokeswoman in Plainfield, said no precise figures of the number of customers affected were available. She said crews were brought in from unaffected areas to help restore power.

The snowfall was the deepest on record in Indianapolis since the weather service began keeping records in 1885, said meteorologist John Curran. The previous record of 1.4 inches had stood since 1925.

Thursday's snowfall broke a record for the earliest measurable snow set Oct. 20, 1916, in Indianapolis and in St. Louis, which had early morning snow flurries.

Snow also fell over most of Illinois, where warm ground temperatures kept it from accumulating.

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday tied its record for earliest measurable snowfall, set on Oct. 18, 1972.