An early-morning snowstorm today forced schools across the region, government offices, and businesses to shut down as forecasters predicted high winds and rapid snowfall throughout the day.
The Lucas County Sheriff's Office declared a Level 3 snow emergency beginning at 7 a.m. today. This means roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. Employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work.
The University of Toledo canceled classes, and the city of Toledo said only essential services would remain open. Hollywood Casino also shut down until the Level 3 emergency is lifted.
It’s already been a winter for the record books: record high snowfall and brutally cold temperatures. But today may be the season’s most unpredictable winter storm.
Snow started falling during the morning rush hour, and claps of thunder could be heard. This was after earlier rain and freezing rain overnight.
At 8 a.m., the National Weather Service recorded 2 inches of snow at the Toledo Express Airport. The weather service predicted the total of 6-8 inches of snow by 8 a.m. Thursday, with winds causing blowing and drifting. The winter storm warning is to expire at 8 p.m. today.
Area law enforcement agencies reported no serious crashes, with a few slide-offs, mainly in Wood, Fulton, Defiance, and Sandusky counties.
“We’re going to play this as it comes,” said Theresa Pollick, spokesman at the Ohio Department of Transportation district office in Bowling Green.
ODOT planned to send trucks out after midnight to survey the weather and monitor road conditions throughout the region from then on, so salting and plowing can begin as soon as needed, Ms. Pollick said.
“We’re worried about people driving in the morning ice conditions,” she said. “Many people think the road looks wet, but it’s really ice. We know there’s the potential there for icy conditions and heavy snow.”
ODOT recently took a 5,000-ton salt delivery to its Lucas County maintenance garage, and more is scheduled for delivery Friday to its Northwood Outpost garage, Ms. Pollick said.
That could be important if the Toledo area gets another storm next week, which Mr. Mitchell said is possible.
Today’s storm, meanwhile, was forecast to be followed by a new round of bitter cold. Temperatures in the low single digits Thursday morning could break the 4-degree record for the date set in 1948, and the daytime high is only expected to reach the mid-20s.
Warmer weather is expected to return for Friday, but Mr. Mitchell said the days of subfreezing cold are far from over, with more such cold likely on Sunday and Monday.
As of Tuesday, 4.3 inches of snow had fallen at Toledo Express Airport, just 1.4 inches shy of the normal total for all of March. The winter-to-date snowfall total has reached a record 77.8 inches, and the average daily mean temperature from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28 — which, for climatologists, is the official winter season — at 20.4 degrees was the fifth coldest on record.
A couple of likely snow storms still are expected for the area within the next several weeks, Mr. Mitchell said. The good news is, he said, “We’re recovering from each system quicker.”
Blade staff writer Mike Sigov contributed to this article.
Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.