Winter in Northeast Ohio may be less than a month away

Jessica White


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Prepare your hats and scarves, meteorology experts say; winter in Northeast Ohio may be less than a month away.

Local and international weather website recently released its winter forecast, which predicted a season that will be “brutal for the Midwest and Great Lakes.”

AccuWeather says La Niña, a weather phenomenon caused by lower than average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, should produce a “volatile weather pattern” for the Midwest and Northeast again this year.

Thomas Schmidlin, geography professor and severe weather expert, said he predicts the same.

“There’s a pretty good chance it’ll be colder than average and snowier than average,” he said. “I think AccuWeather used the term brutal, and I’m not sure I would go that extreme.”

Schmidlin has been measuring snowfall for 25 winters in Kent. Last winter, he recorded 116 inches of snow. The previous high was 82 inches in 2004-2005.

“I would probably doubt whether we’d be as snowy as last winter,” he said. “Last winter was so unusual; it would be a stretch of the imagination to have two winters in a row with so much snow as we had last year.”

Parking services and the campus grounds department began preparing their winter plans and equipment this month.

“We have already ordered the salt,” grounds manager Heather White said.

White said she orders 1,200 tons of salt every year, which costs about $70,000. She employs 10 equipment operators who drive 10 different sized tractors and plows on campus sidewalks. Twenty groundskeepers shovel, break ice and throw salt by hand. White’s employees maintain campus year round, but they are on call around the clock during winter months.

Campus parking lots are cleared by an outside contractor who charges “by the push.”

Parking services manager Larry Emling said he has spent anywhere from $100,000 to $325,000 on snow removal. One “push” for all campus lots costs $9,000.

“So if they plow once a night for the next seven nights, we’ll pay $63,000,” he said.

Emling said moving snow piles onto curbs and grass is another $500-per-hour fee.

“We don’t limit (our budget) necessarily because we’re going to do what we have to do in order to keep the campus clear,” he said. “People always wonder where their money goes when it comes into parking services — when you pay your permit fee and parking fines — this is one of the biggest expenses that we have.”

White said she has heard winter forecasts “across the board” but isn’t sure what to expect.

“I’ll take a typical winter,” she said. “Maybe around 60 inches — enough rest for my staff.”


Jessica White at [email protected].