It's been a mild winter, but several weeks left for snow, cold weather to visit area

·3 min read
A deer stands in a snowy field in North Central Ohio.
A deer stands in a snowy field in North Central Ohio.

This winter has so far been much more mild than last, but there's still time for it to catch up.

It's so mild that North Central Ohio has received less than half the snow it normally would, according to Martin Mullen, a meteorologist in the Cleveland office of the National Weather Service.

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"So far this month we've had 5.9 inches of snow at the airport in Mansfield," Mullen said. "For the season, we've got 9.4 inches. We normally would have 21.3 inches by now. That's 11.9 inches below normal."

'Rain instead of snow'

This time last year, 16.1 inches of snow had fallen upon Richland and Crawford counties.

"That's 6.7 inches more than we have right now," Mullen said. "It's not a significant difference, really. We've still got plenty of winter left."

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It hasn't snowed because weather systems have kept the cold air up north, instead of allowing it to blow down into Ohio.

There's been plenty of precipitation, too. The state is less than a half inch behind average rainfall totals this winter.

"It's just been rain instead of snow," Mullen said.

ODOT using less supplies

The lack of snow has made it an easier winter than normal so far for plow operators with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The department compiled data for the northwest region of the state that reflect the weather service's indication that winter has only been about half as strong this year.

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ODOT has so far only used 10,545 tons of salt in the northwest region, compared to 27,730 tons by this point last year.

The state trucks have only logged 197,765 miles so far, as opposed to 379,060 miles the previous year.

De-icer use has plummeted as well, from 1.3 million gallons last year to less than a half million this year.

'Definitely going to be cold'

It's been a mild winter, but meteorologists aren't expecting any sort of records to be broken this year.

Several days of frigid temperatures on the forecast will ensure any stray precipitation falls as snow, but the only thing on the radar was a slight snowfall projected Sunday.

"We're definitely going to be cold," Mullens said. "The snow is going to be harder to come by."

Some lake-effect snow will hit the northeastern portion of the state later in the week, but that's not expected to come as far south as Crawford and Richland counties.

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"We'll see what happens the middle of the week," Mullens said. "It doesn’t look real good for significant snow."

But it will happen at some point, at least most likely. The next five weeks are expected to be the coldest of the year.

"We'll just have to watch the snow," Mullens said. "We'll see if we get close to any records as we work our way through February and into March."

ztuggle@gannett.com

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Twitter: @zachtuggle

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Below-average snow; experts predict cold temps in weeks to come

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