A wintry blast pummeled Northeast Ohio overnight Saturday, closing churches, delaying urgent care centers, disrupting newspaper deliveries and dropping up to a foot of snow as plow trucks motored through a second band of lake effect snow Sunday afternoon.
With temperatures shifting drastically in the next 72 hours, weather watchers are warning that it may be too cold for road salt to be effective with more snow, quick-forming ice and even some rain in the immediate forecast.
“Frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chill temperatures arrive in the Plains, Midwest, and Great Lakes today, spreading east across all of the Eastern Seaboard by Monday,” the National Weather Service tweeted Sunday morning. “This would cause standing water and slush to rapidly freeze.”
As of 10 p.m. Saturday, trained snow spotters on the front edge of the storm in southwest Medina County informed the weather service of 7 to 9 inches of snowfall in six hours. Portage County reported as much or more Sunday after the winter storm completed its northeast migration across the region. Sugar Bush Knolls between Streetsboro and Kent recorded 10.4 inches of accumulation.
Munroe Falls measured a whopping foot of snowfall in the 24 hours leading up to 11 a.m. Sunday. Medina had 10.8 inches. Cuyahoga Falls had 7.9.
The sun chased off the worst of the weather late Sunday morning as strong winds continued to blister the region.
Frigid winds gusted to 51 mph along Lake Erie, according to the weather service. Gales of 45 and 43 mph were measured in Cleveland and at the Wayne County Airport. The Akron-Canton Airport clocked 39 mph snowy squalls that blocked visibility on roads and covered sidewalks in a seamless blanket of white.
Few accidents were reported Sunday with light travel. After stocking up Friday night at local grocery stores, Northeast Ohio residents largely stayed home this weekend.
Shaun Schweitzer, vice president of circulation at the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com, said of the 372 carriers the Beacon Journal uses to deliver newspapers, about 50 reported being stuck at some point Sunday. Several delivery boxes were reported buried under snow, making deliveries of the paper difficult.
No zoo, library
The Akron Zoo and main Akron-Summit County Library closed "due to hazardous weather conditions" Sunday. All library locations, as well as most schools, are shuttered Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Summit Metro Parks canceled all programming and closed the Nature Realm Visitors Center, Liberty Park Nature Center and Summit Lake Nature Center on Sunday and Monday. "Parks remain open, but please use caution," the agency tweeted Sunday. "Stay warm out there!"
Akron Children's Hospital's urgent care centers in Montrose, Hudson, Mansfield and Warren opened at noon after a two-hour delay.
City plow trucks were out in full force across Northeast Ohio as municipal workers tried to stay ahead of the overnight snow. Teams tried to tame the roads before lake effect snowfall hit northern parts of the region Sunday afternoon.
With temperatures expected at or below zero Sunday and Monday nights, the Akron Public Service Department saved money on salt, which doesn't melt snow when it's that cold. Crews only salted more heavily traveled expressways and hills, which could become treacherous in the next couple days.
City plow trucks attacked the morning snow as a second band gathered humidity over Lake Huron and Lake Erie then dropped its payload over Akron most of the afternoon.
"We are trying to finish up plowing all the primary routes curb to curb and divert our attention to the secondary routes to plow them out as much as the lake effect snow [continuing until Monday afternoon] and blowing/drifting snow allow [continuing until Monday afternoon as well]," Akron Public Service Manager Jim Hall said Sunday afternoon.
A citywide parking ban is in place across Akron until further notice. Several residents took to social media to complain of getting stuck at the end of their residential streets trying to drive through mounds of snow blasted off main streets.
Despite the slippery road conditions, traffic moved slowly but surely along the interstate highways, with no major accidents reported. The Ohio Department of Transportation deployed more than 100 plow trucks in Summit, Stark, Portage, Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.
“There’s a lot of snow up there in Summit County but, fortunately, not a lot of accidents,” said a Canton dispatcher with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “There’s not a lot of people out. For the most part, churches are even staying closed.”
Pastor David Nelson of New Hope Baptist Church postponed the Sunday MLK Service until 5 p.m. Monday. Other churches followed suit.
A winter storm warning remained in effect through 4 a.m. Monday with snow showers and winds expected to accumulate 1 to 3 more inches as a high of 16 degrees steadily fell to a low of 4, which reportedly felt like minus 14 with the wind chill.
Gusts of 30 mph in the morning eased up only slightly with winds measuring about 15 mph in the afternoon and topping out at 25 mph for most of Summit County.
With most schools off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the work week is expected to begin with scattered morning showers accumulating another inch of snow Monday morning giving way to partly sunny skies in the afternoon with a high of 14 degrees.
Monday ends partly cloudy and 1 degree below zero with calmer winds at 5 mph.
But Tuesday is promising to bring a wet shock as temperatures swing wildly throughout the day. A wind chill of minus 12 degrees Tuesday morning should thaw by Tuesday evening as temperatures creep into the upper 30s and chilly rains fall over the region before a deep cold returns later this week.
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.