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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

26 inches so far this month

Toledo breaks record for snowiest February

BY JC REINDL AND CHRISTOPHER J. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITERS



Bianca Pecina, a Chariott Foods Inc. worker, and her boss, Mike Okdie, shovel out her car on South Superior Street. The storm broke a February record set in 1900. Bianca Pecina, a Chariott Foods Inc. worker, and her boss, Mike Okdie, shovel out her car on South Superior Street. The storm broke a February record set in 1900.
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No, it's not your imagination. It really is snowing more than ever.

Overnight and early morning accumulation Friday made 2011 the snowiest February in Toledo since recording-keeping began in 1873. The total snowfall so far for the month — 26.0 inches — surpasses the previous February record for the city of 25.1 inches, set in 1900, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

What's more, Toledo has gotten more snow this month than any other metropolitan area in the state.

"None of them look like they're going to get a total that will beat Toledo," said Mark Adams, a weather service meteorologist.

There were 7.8 inches dumped between late Thursday evening and Friday morning, bringing more inconvenience for commuters navigating the region's less-plowed streets and parking lots. Counties across northwest Ohio raised snow emergency levels, then lowered them by the time the sun appeared in early afternoon.

The snow pleased its most dependable fan base. With across-the-board school cancellations in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, children could frolic outside to their heart's content.

Owens Community College and Bowling Green State University also canceled classes. For the University of Toledo, it was a normal day.

The impromptu vacation counted as the fifth snow day of the school year for Toledo Public Schools. That's two more than the state-allotted maximum, which was reduced to three in legislation last year. However, a state bill that would restore the number of calamity days to five gained momentum Friday as it passed the House Education Committee by a unanimous vote.

Toledo's winter of 2010-11 can now claim a monthly title, but it has a ways to go to crack the top-10 seasonal snowfall records. There have been 45.7 inches of snowfall this winter as measured at Toledo Express Airport. Tenth place for the city, set in 1911-12, was 51.9 inches. The most snowfall on record for Toledo, 73.1 inches, fell during the infamous winter of 1977-78.

The month of February has been getting snowier in recent years. February, 2010, now ranks third on the all-time list at 23.9 inches of accumulation; February, 2008, is fourth with 23.6 inches, and 2003 is eighth on the list at 18.8 inches.

Click here to see more winter weather photos.

The weather service forecasts another inch or so of snowfall Saturday afternoon before gripes about "too much snow" could change to "too much water" over potential flooding.

Temperatures Sunday are to rise to 40 degrees with a 90 percent chance of rain in the evening of a quarter to a half inch. The high is expected to reach 50 degrees on Monday, with up to half an inch of more rain. Above-freezing temperatures are then to continue through the week, with predicted highs of 42 degrees on Tuesday, 35 on Wednesday, and 39 on Thursday.

While students have cheered on snow days, they've become budget headaches for Toledo Public Schools. According to union contracts, TPS will have to pay for two extra days of instruction at the end of the year at a price of about $2.5 million — money it doesn't have, said Jim Gault, the district's interim chief academic officer. Other snow days would add more to that running tab.

"We also have to do what is right by our kids, and we can't put their safety at risk," he said.

Chuck Tubbs operates a snowblower in his driveway on Dussel Drive in Maumee. Even the snow that he piled up should melt soon. Forecasts call for a high of 50 degrees and rain on Monday. And Sunday's high of 39 degrees should get the melting process under way. Chuck Tubbs operates a snowblower in his driveway on Dussel Drive in Maumee. Even the snow that he piled up should melt soon. Forecasts call for a high of 50 degrees and rain on Monday. And Sunday's high of 39 degrees should get the melting process under way.
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Bad weather is more of an issue this school year because bus service was canceled for about 5,000 students due to budget cuts.

Across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, numbers of missed school days range greatly from district to district, with Ottawa Hills students missing only two days because of weather this year.

The bill now moving through the Ohio General Assembly would increase the number of allowed calamity days so TPS and other strapped school districts can escape at least some of the expense. Delayed starts do not count as snow or calamity days. Short of a legislative remedy, the district is hoping to catch a break from its three main bargaining units and negotiate a concession for the current school year.

In TPS union contracts, the number of state-sanctioned snow days is counted as part of public school teachers' 180 days of instruction, said Mr. Gault. With five snow days already, teachers will need to be paid for at least 182 days of instruction this school year, unless the legislature amends the law.

Last year, then-Gov. Ted Strickland proposed increasing the school year to 200 from 180 days. He said students and teachers would benefit from the extra time in class to learn new material and to implement new instructional programs that seem to appear each year. A deal was struck, and he and state lawmakers reduced the number of snow or "calamity" days from five to three, starting this school year. Exceeding three days means they have to be made up and paid for by the district at the end of the year.

Staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.

Contact JC Reindl at: jcreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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