March 14--While not the whopper for which the East Coast braced Monday, snow that began falling on Toledo still was expected to rival -- if not exceed -- the city's snowfall total for all of January and February.
Forecasters expected 3 to 6 inches to fall in the metro area by the time the storm moved east today. The storm needed only to hit the middle of that range to exceed the 3.8 inches recorded at Toledo Express Airport during the year's first two months, which normally are the snowiest of the year.
"We were due to get clipped by at least one of these storms," said Jay Berschback, chief meteorologist at WTVG-TV Channel 13, noting that several previous snowmakers had just missed Toledo, although they delivered damaging winds to the city.
While accumulations were light early in the day and only a few minor crashes were reported, the combination of heavier snow and fading daylight slickened Toledo-area roads during and after the evening rush hour.
Among the most disruptive crashes was a multivehicle collision that shut down northbound I-75 just north of Wales Road in Northwood about 6:45 p.m. Responders reported no serious injuries, but it took more than an hour to clear wreckage and reopen the freeway.
Also among crash reports was a rollover along U.S. 24 near State Rt. 64 in Waterville Township about 7 p.m., from which the Lucas County Sheriff's Office said one injured person was taken to a hospital.
The Ohio Highway Patrol responded to another one-car rollover 40 minutes later at State Rts. 420 and 163 in Wood County's Troy Township, but reported only minor injuries.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, meanwhile, canceled some bridge work Monday night into today that was to have closed the Monroe Street entrance to eastbound I- 475 in West Toledo. A make-up night was not announced.
As of 5 p.m., 1.2 inches of snow had fallen at Toledo Express Airport. To the north and south, however, heavier snows were reported in what Mr. Berschback said were several lake- effect bands that road easterly winds off Lake Erie. Dundee, Mich., and Bowling Green got about 4 inches from those snow bands, he said.
The storm was expected to become a blizzard when it reached the East Coast early today, with the New York Public Schools calling a rare snow day well in advance, and authorities urging people to avoid travel in the busy Northeast Corridor. Blizzard warnings were posted for a swath of the mid-Atlantic stretching from the Philadelphia area to southeastern Connecticut, where as much as two feet of snow was expected.
Airlines canceled thousands of flights scheduled for today -- as they did Monday in Chicago -- and Amtrak drastically curtailed its service between Washington and Boston.
"When this thing hits, it's going to hit hard and put a ton of snow on the ground in a hurry," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.
Significant snow was forecast as far south as metro Washington, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel postponed a visit today with President Trump until Friday.
Mr. Berschback said the storm moving across Ohio on Monday was set up to merge with a system traveling up the Atlantic coast, creating a traditional Nor'easter bringing heavy snow and high wind causing coastal flooding.
The mid-March snow follows by only a week the last of several late-winter warmups that raised temperatures into the upper 50s in Toledo and the 60s in New York.
It also followed a record-setting snowless January and February in Chicago, where onshore winds were expected to deliver heavy lake-effect snow in areas just west of Lake Michigan overnight and today.
Snow off Lake Erie was expected to amplify snowfall totals east of Toledo as well, especially between Sandusky and Cleveland. Lesser accumulations were predicted west and southwest of Toledo.
Toledo's current winter got started with a bang when 10 inches fell at the local airport Dec. 11, but since then snowfall in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan has come only in dribs and drabs.
The fresh snow was expected to taper off in Toledo by midmorning today, with skies clearing for Wednesday and Thursday.
"We'll be back into the lower 40s for the weekend," Mr. Berschback said, adding that longer-range outlooks suggest temperatures near or above average for the rest of March.
While the astronomical end of winter arrives Monday, the WTVG weather forecaster said it's too soon to call this storm winter's last gasp.
After all, he said, Toledo got nearly 8 inches on the weekend of April 8 and 9 last year.
Blade news services contributed to this report.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.
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