High impact winter storm still on track for Wednesday

Predicted snowfall for Wednesday in northwest Ohio.

It may be the middle of March, and astronomical spring is only nine days away. But Mother Nature seems destined to have this already record setting winter go out with one more major punch of snow and bitter cold.

While weâ??ve been anticipating this storm for the past five days or so, the latest computer models show this storm coming in even stronger than originally anticipated. If the current trends hold, portions of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan may experience a debilitating and paralyzing snowstorm for Wednesday.

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The beginning of this storm is still on track, starting off as rain Tuesday night, switching to a wintry mix after midnight. That mix may also include a few areas of freezing rain, forming a thin layer of ice, including on untreated roads.

One slight change in the forecast is the arrival of the colder air, which may take a little longer. Because of that, you may not see much snow on the ground when you wake up Wednesday morning, but do not be fooled. Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., the precipitation will begin changing over to all snow. The farther northwest you are, the sooner youâ??ll see snow. The farther southeast you are, the later the changeover.

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When that changeover occurs, conditions may deteriorate rapidly. The heaviest bands of snow will fall in the morning, with snowfall rates between 1 to 3â?? per hour not out of the question. Not only will the snow be heavy, but it will be combined with powerful winds sustained at more than 20 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph out of the north. That could lead to whiteout conditions, and is not something you want to encounter driving on the roads.

The winds along with light to moderate snow will continue for most of Wednesday afternoon, piling on to the heavy snow from the morning. Models have slowed the speed of this storm down, meaning flakes may fall for a longer period of time, not ending until early Wednesday evening. That too would favor higher snow totals.

How Much?

Most of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan can expect to receive at least a half foot of fresh snow by the end of this storm. The only exception may be for places south, such as Upper Sandusky, Findlay and Lima, since it will take longer for the colder air to arrive (still, 3 to 5â?? expected in these spots). Places north will receive the most, with upwards of 9â?? and possibly more not out of the question in and around the Toledo metro area. That, combined with the winds, could make travel impossible, and I anticipate snow emergencies will be issued by cities and counties.

After the snow comes the cold, with lows near zero degrees by Thursday morning (the record low for Toledo Thursday is 4 degrees). Just adding insult to injury.

So get ready to hunker down for Wednesday, and take all necessary precautions if you absolutely must venture outside. This storm will be right up there with the biggest ones weâ??ve seen this winter, and should not be taken lightly.

I end by repeating one thing I said at the beginning: only nine more days until spring!


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