Cleveland averages gets close to twice as much snow in a normal winter than Toledo does, 68.1 inches compared to 37.6 inches, thanks its position on the western reach of the Lake Erie Snow Belt. But the winter now winding down -- don’t look to me to say it’s over, it’s only April! -- could end as a dramatic exception to that rule, if Cleveland doesn’t get any late-season snow bursts like it got last weekend.
As of Friday, Toledo’s snowfall total since July 1 was a record shattering 85.3 inches, which smashes the old record from 1977-78 (73.1 inches) by more than a foot now! Cleveland’s winter-to-date total of 84.8 inches obviously is well above normal, but it only ranks seventh on that city’s list of snowiest winters. The 117.9-inch season record Cleveland set nine winters ago appears very safe unless April proves to be the most bizarro snow month ever. Cleveland’s snowiest April -- in 2005, imagine that -- produced “just” 19 inches.
How is it that Toledo leads Cleveland in snowfall this year? The main reason is a couple of the storms that produced major snows in Toledo this winter followed tracks that delivered a lot lessto Cleveland . In particular, Toledo’s 13-incher of Jan. 5-6 was mainly a rainmaker farther east, yielding just 0.9 inch of snow at Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland’s official reporting station. For all of January, Cleveland got just 23.7 inches of snow, compared with a record-busting 40.2 inches in Toledo.
Another factor is that the lake-effect snows were fairly tame this year in Cleveland. The early part of winter usually gives Cleveland a big head start on snowfall when cold air whistles across Lake Erie’s relatively warm waters and dumps the moisture it collects over northeast Ohio. But this time around, Cleveland got just 4.7 inches in November and 17.5 inches in December. That was still more than Toledo got during that time -- a combined 11.3 inches -- but not so much more that Toledo’s January storms couldn’t give the Glass City a healthy lead in this “race” to which it now clings.
Clings, I say, because Cleveland has been catching up ever since, with 23.8 inches in February to Toledo’s 21.6, and 15.1 in March to Toledo’s 11.8. Last weekend’s weather put the whole thing truly back in contention. While forecasters said Toledo might get a few inches out of the storm that passed through the lower Great Lakes a week ago, it ended up with next to nothing -- just 0.2 inch. One hundred miles to the east, though, Cleveland got 5 inches.
Maybe some of you would just as soon prefer to forget this winter once it’s over, but me, along with all the records we set and The Weather Channel’s declaration that Toledo’s winter was the worst in the entire United States compared to norms, “beating” Snowbelt City would add to this winter’s superlatives. Only three times since Toledo Express’ 1955 opening, which is as far back as the National Weather Service says its official snowfall records for Toledo go back, has Toledo gotten more snow in a winter than Cleveland, and the most recent was in 1969-70, when the “score” was Toledo 59.4, Cleveland 53.4. I’m not going to advocate for more snow here this, um, spring, but in any case, won’t you join me in doing whatever anti-snow dance or other superstitious foolishness you can think of to try to prevent more snow from falling this winter in Cleveland?