Four-year-old Kasey Hoffman enjoys a wild ride through the snowflakes with her father, Mike, on a hill at Waite High School in East Toledo. The National Weather Service said 4 inches of snow fell on the area yesterday, which was a lot of fun if you weren't trying to drive in it.
Four and 10.
The first number is the snowfall accumulation, in inches, across much of the Toledo area. The second is the approximate snowfall total so far this season - a number Toledo didn't reach last winter until March 25.
The snow, initially forecast for two inches or less, contributed to scores of traffic accidents across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan yesterday and prompted many area schools to curtail evening classes and activities.
Most of the crashes were minor, but at least one death resulted. A 16-year-old girl died when the car she was driving on State Rt. 64 in Swanton Township collided with a pickup truck early in the afternoon.
Mike Sager, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather, Inc., said the snow total yesterday turned out higher than expected because of a surface wind pattern that brought in extra moisture from Lake Erie.
A plow pushes snow off the road and onto a passing car on State Rt. 51 east of Genoa.
While no measurement was available, Mr. Sager said it was quite likely that downtown Toledo and its eastern suburbs got an inch or two more than was reported at Toledo Express.
“The lake just added a little more kick to it,” Mr. Sager said. “You can get some very funny [peculiar] effects with the lakes around.”
The snow accompanied a cold front that passed through the region during the day.
Behind the front was a mass of arctic air that was forecast to plunge the mercury into the low teens by early this morning, and into the single digits tonight after a high today of about 20 degrees.
“This is a bitterly cold air mass for this time of year,” Mr. Sager said. “It's a shock, especially compared to last year.”
With the snow expected to hang around for a while, city officials issued a reminder that Toledo law requires home and business owners to clear their walks within 24 hours of a storm's end, and forbids them to dump shoveled snow into the street.
Those whose physical condition prevents them from doing such work should hire someone, Mayor Jack Ford said. “Hopefully, they can get a neighborhood kid to shovel their walk for a fair price,” he said.
A year ago, Toledo didn't get its first measurable snow until Dec. 23, marking the first snow-free autumn in its recorded history, and daily high temperatures reached at least 42 degrees every day in November and the first 23 days of December.
But while colder than normal, the next few days' weather will not be entirely unusual for the season.
“Normal is the average of harsher conditions and milder conditions,'' said Bill Randel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
The record low for today is minus-11 degrees, set in 1976, while tomorrow's is minus-1, set in 1966. Normal lows for today and tomorrow are 27 and 26, respectively, while the high temperature typically reaches 40.
In Ohio, areas south of Wood County got little accumulation. Highways remained open, but fender benders made for slow going.
The snow was heaviest in Lucas and Monroe counties, where police agencies reported being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of accidents.
Toledo police responded only to accidents that involved injuries or disabled vehicles blocking traffic.
“People are still driving like it's dry out,” Toledo police Officer Rob Malone said last night. “They're cutting people off, expecting them to be able to stop. I'm truly amazed that we aren't having more crashes than we are today.”
The Toledo division of streets, bridges, and harbor had all 33 of its salt-plow trucks out on the road yesterday, but streets commissioner Bill Franklin conceded that the fleet is too small to keep up with a storm in progress. With 1,100 miles of city streets, that works out to more than 33 miles per truck, and a plow can only cover 10 miles an hour, at most.
Mr. Franklin said the trucks will work all night, but with the frigid temperatures, salt may be ineffective.
In Jerusalem Township, a school bus slid off the road yesterday at the intersection of Cedar Point and Decant roads, but no one was hurt.
Several other minor bus accidents were reported in Monroe County.
The identity of the girl killed in the Route 64 collision yesterday was withheld pending notification of relatives. Troopers at the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Toledo post said her Honda Accord was northbound north of the Route 64/Waterville-Swanton Road intersection about 1:35 p.m. when it went out of control on the snowy pavement and collided with an oncoming pickup truck. The pickup's driver, also unidentified, was treated at the scene for minor injuries, troopers said.
Brian Schwartz, spokesman for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said Chicago flights to and from Toledo Express Airport were delayed because of Chicago's weather, but other flights were on or close to schedule. Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport reported minor delays for aircraft de-icing.