CINCINNATI (AP) - A late-winter storm dumped a half-foot or more of snow across much of Ohio on Wednesday, creating treacherous driving conditions for the morning rush hour and closing hundreds of schools from Athens to West Chester.Most of the state had been under winter storm warnings or advisories, but the National Weather Service lifted them by about 9:30 a.m. as the snow moved eastward. Southern and west-central Ohio got the brunt of the storm, which had swept down from Minnesota and Wisconsin and barreled through the Midwest on its way to Washington.
There were scores of traffic accidents, mostly causing minor damage without serious injuries, flight cancellations and scattered power outages.
Bellefontaine, a city of some 13,000 in western Ohio, got 8 to 9 inches of snow.
"More than we care for, that's for sure," said James D. Holycross, the city's safety service director. He said schools were closed, and many businesses delayed their openings Wednesday.
Early morning temperatures in the high 20s allowed road crews there and elsewhere across the state to treat and plow major roadways and keep them relatively clear by late morning.
Holycross said there were many accidents, mostly slide-offs on icy roads, in surrounding rural areas, but no serious ones reported. That was similar to elsewhere in the state, where accidents caused traffic snags including a few jackknifed tractor-trailers and chain-reaction crashes. Police in several areas told motorists in minor collisions to exchange information and move on to avoid adding to the traffic hazards.
"People were typically driving as they normally would on wet pavement ... too fast," said Mike Coons, emergency management administrator at Wright State University, where there were some class delays Wednesday. He said getting out of his unplowed subdivision in Xenia was his biggest challenge, while main highways were in pretty good shape.
Schools across southern and central Ohio called off classes, including Columbus, Cincinnati and Lakota, among the state's largest public school districts.
Andrew Snyder, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said some of the heaviest snowfalls were in Logan and Shelby counties, with 8 to 9 inches, with similar amounts reported in some areas between Cincinnati and Dayton such as the cities of Franklin, Middletown and Miamisburg.
"It's really a significant storm for any time of winter, but particularly when we're getting here, later in the season," Snyder said. "Storms like this become less and less common this time of year."
Airlines canceled dozens of flights at the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton airports late Tuesday and Wednesday, many of them to or from Chicago and other Midwestern cities hit by the storm or headed to eastern cities in the storm's path. Hundreds of flights were canceled nationwide.
The snow won't be sticking around. Forecasters expect temperatures to rise quickly into the 50s by weekend for most of the state.
But Snyder said forecasters aren't ready yet to call an end to winter.
"You never know when winter will make one last gasp," he said.