Central Ohio is expected to receive its first significant snow of the season with up to 6 inches expected to fall Saturday according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
Central Ohio is expected to receive its first significant snow of the season Saturday with 3 to 6 inches expected.
Until harsh arctic winds arrived Tuesday evening, though central Ohioans were enjoying a milder than normal winter season.
Tons of road salt remained piled high in the barns and state, county and city road workers got to spend more time doing other things.
The temperature hit a spring-like high of 62 degrees at 2 p.m. Tuesday at John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
But within hours, everything changed — with a vengeance.
First, temperatures plunged into the 20s Wednesday and into the teens overnight, bringing with it bursts of snow that turned some roads slick. Afternoon highs Thursday and Friday struggled to get around the freezing mark.
Now, a winter weather advisory has been issued for central Ohio between 7 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday. Brian Coniglio, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said he expects the snow to arrive between 7 and 8 a.m. in central Ohio. The snow will fall throughout the day and into the night Saturday into early Sunday.
“We are expecting less snow to the east of Columbus, and more for the west,” he said.
Around the area, Coniglio said, Newark and Logan might see 3 1/2 inches of snow, Columbus could receive 3 to 4 inches and Marysville could receive 5 inches.
And the long-term trend for the next 30 days — traditionally the heart of winter — appears to generally be a normal wintry pattern, said Myron Padgett, another meteorologist for the NWS in Wilmington.
The average high temperatures are expected to be in the 30s and the lows in the 20s. The precipitation is expected to be in the normal range of 2 to 2.5 inches, Padgett said.
There will be some exceptions, such as next Thursday and Friday when the highs will make it into the 40s and rain is forecast instead of snow. That’s actually good news, because an inch of rain can translate to up to 10 inches of snow, depending on the temperature when it falls.
Still, road crews expect to find themselves much busier Saturday and in the days ahead.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. Who knows? Sometimes we get snow well into April,” said Michael Liggett, spokesman for the Columbus Public Service division.
Before winter’s return this week, statistics show how comparatively mild the weather had been. The Ohio Department of Transportation statewide had used 130,181 tons of salt this winter as of Monday — less than half of the 307,101 tons spread across Ohio roads by ODOT at the same time last January.
Some might say it was ODOT that jinxed us. The weather was mild until ODOT’s state Twitter account posted on Monday: “The most DRAMATIC snow & ice season yet! Just kidding, It has been a mild winter in #OH.” Things went downhill from there.
Crews in ODOT’s District 6, which includes Franklin County and seven other counties in central Ohio, had dropped 12,053 tons of salt as of Monday, which is down from 21,254 tons of salt last year during the same period, said Breanna Badanes, an ODOT spokeswoman.
Badanes said it’s a good thing there have been fewer instances where salt has been needed this winter because the price has spiked to $75 per ton compared to $45 per ton last season. She said ODOT District 6 had spent $1.8 million for salt to that point compared to $2.46 million at the same time last winter.
At the Franklin County Engineer’s office, crews had used only about one-fourth of salt supplies when compared with prior years, said Carla Marable, director of communications for the engineer’s office.
As of Wednesday, the Franklin County Engineer’s office had responded to eight snow and ice events, compared with 16 at the same point over the prior year, Marable said. Interestingly, there was an earlier snow and ice event in November 2018 while trucks didn’t go out in 2017 until December, Marable said.
Only 1,127.08 tons of salt had been used by Franklin County road crews through Wednesday compared to 4,299.57 tons of salt last winter. Salt brine usage was also way down: 16,874 gallons through Wednesday compared to 73,188 gallons for the same period last winter.
The warmer temperatures have also worked to the county’s advantage as crews have not used any calcium chloride, which normally is deployed when the temperatures hover around zero. Last year by this time, the crews had already used 1,750 gallons, Marable said.
Liggett said the city of Columbus doesn’t have comparative statistics available, but in general it’s apparent that overtime hours are way down and less salt and fewer gallons of liquid de-icing had been used this winter.
Dispatch reporter Edward Sutelan contributed to this report.