The Blade/Lori King
A white Christmas remained a possibility for Toledo today, if only a dusting, while forecasters said the city's first major snowstorm since early 2011 was likely to arrive Wednesday morning.
A winter storm expected to whiten the Southern Plains states for Christmas will advance northeastward into the Ohio Valley by Wednesday morning, bringing 6 to 10 inches of snow to northern Ohio before it moves out to the East Coast, the National Weather Service in Cleveland said.
Frank Kieltyka, a forecaster at the Cleveland office, said northeast Ohio is expected get more than northwest Ohio, but 6 to 8 inches are likely in Toledo. The storm also is expected to have a vigorous northeast wind that will blow and drift the snow and may cause coastal flooding along Lake Erie, Mr. Kieltyka said.
Although the National Weather Service forecast said some snow could begin earlier Wednesday, Mr. Kieltyka said accumulation probably won't start until late in the morning rush hour.
"The afternoon is definitely going to be bad," he warned.
Four to 7 inches of snow was forecast west of Toledo into northeast Indiana, while the National Weather Service in Detroit predicated 3 to 5 inches in Monroe and Lenawee counties.
A 6-inch snowfall would be Toledo's heaviest since Feb. 25, 2011, when 7 inches fell at Toledo Express.
Last winter's highest snow total was 3.7 inches, on March 4-5. It was the last snow of the year until six-tenths of an inch fell at the airport Friday, ending a record 290-day snowless streak in Toledo.
Mr. Kieltyka said anyone planning to travel from Toledo after Christmas should either start early on Wednesday or wait until Thursday.
In western New York and northern Pennsylvania, more than a foot of snow is expected between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, while freezing rain was forecast to be a part of the mix in the mid-Atlantic states. Sleet or freezing rain were also possible in east central Ohio at times during the storm.
At the Ohio Department of Transportation, drivers were scheduled to come in at midnight Wednesday to prepare for the storm, spokesman Theresa Pollick said. Toledo-area freeways were pre-treated Monday with salt brine as a precaution against light snow predicted overnight, she said.
Forecasters said a half-inch of light snow might accumulate in Toledo in time for Christmas this morning, possibly with periods of freezing drizzle.
Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Bell, said crews on duty to respond to any water-main breaks in the city would also be "first responders" if streets became slick from the weather, but as of Monday evening the city did not plan to assign extra salt or plow crews before Wednesday.
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