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Published: Wednesday, 1/7/2004

Mother Nature shifts gears, puts icy grip on region

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Icicles bear testament to the bitter-cold temperatures as David Armstrong passes through International Park along the Maumee River in East Toledo while on his way to work at Gumbo s restaurant. Icicles bear testament to the bitter-cold temperatures as David Armstrong passes through International Park along the Maumee River in East Toledo while on his way to work at Gumbo s restaurant.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

Although the sun shone brightly at Wildwood Preserve Metropark, footprints in the weekend s snow were the only sign of the joggers and dog walkers that usually frequent the trails.

Parking lots that normally hold 50 to 60 cars held fewer than 20 yesterday afternoon, many of them belonging to park staff.

After Saturday s 60-degree high, the sudden cold spell kept many people away from their usual outdoor haunts.

Yesterday s high of 25 - at midnight - had dropped to only 6 at 9 a.m., said Scott Homan, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting firm based in State College, Pa.

“We ll be seeing this weather into the first part of the weekend at least,” he said.

By 7 last night, 10-degree temperatures and 17 mph winds at Toledo Express Airport amounted to a wind chill reading of –8.

Robert King lets out a breath as he waits for a bus at the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority station at Madison and North Erie streets in downtown Toledo. Robert King lets out a breath as he waits for a bus at the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority station at Madison and North Erie streets in downtown Toledo.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Saturday s high should be 29 or 30, and Sunday s should be back up to 33 or 34, he said.

But today will be partly sunny and breezy, with a high of 22. The highs will be 24 tomorrow and Friday, with a chance of snow tomorrow.

The cold kept some animals at the Toledo Zoo tucked away, spokesman Andi Norman said.

But the polar bears, seals, and snow leopards were out and about.

“This is their season,” Ms. Norman said.

It apparently was not the season for ice skaters at Ottawa Park s empty outdoor rink. Even the 12 or 15 regulars missed yesterday s early afternoon skating session, rink cashier Gary Durham said.

The cold caused no major problems.

Joe Rutherford, a spokesman at the Ohio Department of Transportation s regional headquarters in Bowling Green, said brisk winds yesterday blew some snow onto area roads, “but nothing severe.” Freezing rain put a crust on a lot of the snow Sunday night and probably helped contain the drifting, Mr. Rutherford said.

Columbia Gas of Ohio reported no problems. While thousands of people turning up their heat can strain the gas system, it s designed to handle this type of weather, spokesman Gina Thompson said.

AAA Northwest Ohio, which receives an average of 150 to 160 calls for help a day, had 266 by 4 p.m. yesterday and 403 on Monday, spokesman Laurie Ghesquiere said.

Despite the weather, Robierre Cullars picks up trash in South Toledo. Despite the weather, Robierre Cullars picks up trash in South Toledo.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

Most of those were for frozen locks and doors and a few more battery boosts than normal.

The Cherry Street Mission turned no one away, though people have been sleeping on wooden benches for the past two weeks.

“The colder it gets, the fuller we get,” Executive Director Copi Valdiviez said.

AccuWeather s Mr. Homan said normal temperatures for Jan. 6 are a high of 32 and a low of 17.

But on Saturday, “a big, cold, dome of air came down from Canada” and moved into the Northern Plains states, then east, bringing with it temperatures well below normal, he said.



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