Winter returns to Portage County

By Heather Condley and Micah Panczyk Record-Courie Published:

Just when area residents thought winter was behind them and were preparing to coast into spring unscathed, Mother Nature dumped nearly four inches of cold, wet and unwelcome snow on much of Portage County overnight.

A strong winter storm that moved across the state over the weekend brought rain Sunday and Monday, until colder air moved into the area last night, turning the rain into snow, said Thomas Schmidlin, chairman of the Geography Department at Kent State University.

"Today, lake effect snow will set in. Even here in Portage County, off and on we'll have snow showers all day and even into tonight," he said, adding the heaviest snow will be in the snowbelt to the north.

Schmidlin said he measured 3 1/2 inches of snow at 7 a.m. and said several more inches could be expected today through Wednesday.

"We knew it was coming," said Ravenna Street Superintendent Dave Stone, in reference to the 1 1/2 inches that fell on city roads overnight. "For once, it seems, the weather men were right."

Ravenna enlisted three plows at about 1 a.m. Tuesday _ plows that were still plowing at press time, Stone said.

State crews were also prepared for the winter weather, with 11 trucks in service in Portage County by 7 a.m. Interstate 76 was wet and partly snow covered, according to the Ohio Depatment of Transportation, as were may of the primary and secondary roads. In Summit County, the conditions the interstates were slightly worse, with icy spots and drifting snow reported. Similar condisitons were reported on primary and secondary roads.

About 2 1/2 inches draped the Ravenna Water Plant on Lakewood Road, according to plant operator Dan Edwards.

"March is kinda fuddy-duddy," he said. "It might rain, it might snow, it might be 70 degrees. My rose plant was just starting to green up."

The weather conditions caused problems for at least one driver. The Ravenna Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol was at the scene of an accident on Lakewood Road, south of Hommon Road at press time. No details were available.

Edwards said his sixth sense tells him that winter may have yet another card up his sleeve _ that last night's snow is not likely winter's last.

The Aurora Police Department reported four inches of snow this morning and the Hiram Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol reported low visibility this morning on the west end of the turnpike.

While Schmidlin said the snowfall is normal for this time of the year, the temperatures are much lower than average.

"We usually get eight to 10 inches of snow (in March). March snow is common but our normal high is 42 this time of year. Highs in the 20s are well below average," he said.

While area residents may have gotten used to mild temperatures created by the El Nio weather phenomenon, the snow and cold temperatures are not necessarily an indication that warm temperatures are over until summer.

"Even in El Nio winters that may be mild still get the occasional cold spell when the jet streams shift, it just doesn't happen often," he said.

Area residents can expect a gradual warming trend through the weekend, but Schmidlin said temperatures will still be below normal.

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