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Published: 12/20/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Area expected to snap record long streak of snowlessness

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo’s first accumulating snow since early March is expected to start late today, but whether it will be enough to stick around for a white Christmas remains to be seen.

What northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan appeared sure to get — starting before sunrise — was close to an inch of rain accompanied by gusty winds. A winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service office in Cleveland forecast a change to snow in northwest Ohio after 7 p.m., with 2 to 4 inches accumulating by Friday afternoon.

That’s far less than is expected farther to the northwest or in Snow Belt regions. Those areas are expected to get socked once the storm’s cold front passes across Lake Michigan and, later, Lake Erie.

Will Kubina, a meteorologist at the weather services’s Cleveland office, said Toledo’s chances of a white Christmas appeared to be good: Cold air expected to move into the area behind the storm is likely to keep melting to a minimum even if the sun emerges. More snow on Christmas Eve into Christmas also is possible, he said.

AccuWeather Inc., meanwhile, issued a “White Christmas” map that gave most of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan a 25 to 50 percent chance of at least an inch of snow on the ground Tuesday.

Any measurable accumulation at Toledo Express Airport would be the first at the city’s official reporting station since March 5 — or 289 days as of Wednesday — and end the longest snowless streak in Toledo’s recorded history.

Mr. Kubina said that’s “pretty much a certainty,” with the transition from rain to snow likely to occur shortly after sunset today.

Anyone planning to go shopping or run other errands after work today should be prepared for increasingly tricky driving, the meteorologist said. “The first snow of the season, people have issues with that anyway,” he said.

Toledo Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor crews were out Wednesday for “dry runs” with salt trucks, including briefly turning on salt spreaders to make sure they worked properly, said Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Bell.

Snowless weather so far this fall has allowed the division to get much farther through a second leaf-collection pass in the city than normally occurs, Ms. Sorgenfrei said, and workers also have been doing extra alley cleaning and pothole repairs.

“They figure they’ve got about a week left to get it [leaf collection] done,” she said.

Those hitting the highways this weekend might benefit from the Toledo area’s lowest gasoline prices in two years unless prices bounce higher in anticipation of holiday demand.

Based on a survey, the American Automobile Association has predicted 93.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home between Saturday and Jan. 1, up 1.6 percent from the 91.8 million who made such trips for Christmas or New Year’s Day a year ago.

About 90 percent of holiday travelers plan to go in private vehicles, although the survey predicted an increase in air travel this year compared with the recent past.

“The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays, as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the new year with a vacation,” said Robert Darbelnet, the auto club’s president and chief executive.

AAA’s daily fuel gauge report for Wednesday showed a national average price for self-service regular of $3.226 a gallon, half a cent higher than a year ago but 19 cents a gallon cheaper than a month ago.

Prices in the Toledo area continued to be significantly lower than the national or Ohio averages on Wednesday, with gasbuddy.com spotters reporting self-service regular as low as $2.699 at one central Toledo station and widespread low $2.70s in parts of West Toledo.

Gasbuddy late Wednesday reported a citywide average of $2.945 a gallon — 13.7 cents below a year ago, 14 cents lower than a week ago, and 30 cents lower than a month ago.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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