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Published: Friday, 12/29/2006

Rain reigns! 2006 is Toledo's 3rd wettest year

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
No snow makes Joe Bryant s Snyder Snow Service a no-go
for cleaning walks and clearing driveways of customers.
No snow makes Joe Bryant s Snyder Snow Service a no-go for cleaning walks and clearing driveways of customers.
Enlarge

The year about to end is already the third-wettest in Toledo's recorded history, and 2006's final weekend could provide a fitting conclusion: more rain.

"We're not yet sure if it will be enough" to move the 2006 precipitation total - currently 44.17 inches - up to second place on the list, but rain is quite likely for Sunday, Dan Leins said yesterday. He is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Cleveland.

What local skies won't yield for the next few days is snow. Toledo's average mean temperature for this month, 36.5 degrees, is the ninth-warmest on record for December, and more above-average warmth is in the weekend forecast.

While the 1.6 inches of snow measured so far this month at Toledo Express Airport is not a historic low snowfall candidate, it's far below the monthly norm of 8 inches and definitely light enough to dent winter-oriented businesses like Snyder Snow Service on West Alexis Road.

"We're just about dead as far as business goes," Joe Bryant, Snyder's owner, said yesterday. The relative warmth allowed his company to keep busy building parking lots and laying pipes later into December than normal, he said, but if winter weather doesn't arrive by early January, "we'll have to start trimming" staff.

"We're in a great inventory position if [winter] does hit," said John Hoover, the marketing and business developer at The Andersons, whose local chain of general stores has an abundance of winter clothing, snow-fighting equipment, and winter automotive supplies languishing on its shelves.

The warm weather has been a blessing for Earl Johnston of Johnston Fruit Farms in Swanton, as he is able to take advantage of the conditions to prune his apple trees.
The warm weather has been a blessing for Earl Johnston of Johnston Fruit Farms in Swanton, as he is able to take advantage of the conditions to prune his apple trees.
Enlarge

For the year's precipitation - which includes the melted-water amount for snow along with measured rainfall - to move into second place on the historic list, 1.75 inches must fall at Toledo Express Airport between now and midnight Sunday. But even if that doesn't happen, Toledoans won't have trouble remembering that the final eight months of weather here was often better for ducks than people - especially those who live in several neighborhoods plagued by early-summer flooding.

At the end of April, the official Toledo precipitation total was more than an inch below normal. By yesterday, it was 11 1/4 inches above normal for the year. May skies produced a soggy 6.6 inches of rain for the city, and July offered a whopping 9.19 inches - 3.46 inches and 6.39 inches above normal for the respective months.

The flooding problems began in June. While that month's rainfall of 3.91 inches was just 0.11 inch above normal, 3.12 inches of it fell on June 21, and low-lying streets and basements across the city took a soaking.

Particularly hard-hit were neighborhoods in the Bennett Park and Longwood Park sections of Toledo, where residents have since filed a class-action lawsuit blaming the city, Lucas County, and several other parties for failure to maintain adequate drainage or obstructing flow. The July rain brought flooding on the 4th, 12th, and 14th.

October was also wetter than average - 4.29 inches compared with a norm of 2.35 inches.

Since then, mild weather has been the greatest weather anomaly in metro Toledo.

For the first 27 days of December, the daily mean temperature has been below normal only six times, all of them during the month's first eight days. Since then, the mercury has topped 50 on eight days, including a high of 57 on Dec. 17 that was one degree shy of the record for the date at Toledo Express. On just seven nights over the past three weeks has the mercury gone below freezing, and no lower than 21 degrees on any of them.

In December, 2005, the highest temperature for the month at the airport was 45, and the mercury sank to minus-1 Fahrenheit on the 8th of that month.

The mild weather is consistent with long-range forecasts suggesting that the Great Lakes region will have a warmer-than-normal winter, but The Andersons' Mr. Hoover isn't panicking yet about the potential need for a big winter-coat clearance sale.

"It's way too early at this time to worry about that," he said. "Weather around here can change in a day."

Blade staff writer Meghan Gilbert contributed to this report.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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