First forecast snowfall starts winter wondering in Butler County: What to expect

The snow forecast to fall last night and into this morning might have area residents wondering what’s in store for the Greater Cincinnati area this winter.

“People see snow in November and they kind of go, ‘Uh, what does that mean for the rest of the winter?’” said Nate McGinnis, meterologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington. “Yeah, this is an early snow event and … we had another similar situation last year.”

Even with that early snowfall, the region tallied 21.6 inches last winter, close to the average of 21 inches, McGinnis said.

Temperatures were slightly lower than average in November and January last year, but only a few degreees above average for December and February, he said.

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Predicting how much snow could fall is difficult, McGinnis said.

“You could have a warm month and then you get one cold shot of air and there happens to be a storm system that moves through and that cold air is in place, and boom, you get six (or) seven inches of snow and it was just one event, even though the (temperatures for the) month could be above average,” he said.

Colder air that moved into the region overnight was predicted to cause some roads to become icy this morning, with slick spots possibly persisting even after snow diminished overnight. Total snow accumulation for the Butler County area was expected to be between 1 and 3 inches. Heavier snowfall is forecast for west central Ohio, which could see between 2 and 4 inches of snow.

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Today’s temperatures are expected to reach only the upper 20s, with a 20 percent chance of isolated snow showers, before temperatures dip back down into low- to mid-teens into Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Wednesday will be “unseasonably cool” in the mid-30s, which are forecast to drop to the upper-20s into Thursday.

Temperatures will hover in the mid-40s Thursday, Friday and Saturday before rising into the low-50s by Sunday.

Scott Tadych, director of public works and utilities for the city of Middletown, said that community was “fully prepared and ready” for Monday’s forecasted winter weather with 20 drivers on call and both salt domes fully stocked with 4,500 tons of salt.

During last season’s 10 snow events, the city used 2,460 employee hours, spread 2,900 tons of salt and spent $310,000 on snow removal costs, including salt, employee hours, fuel and calcium.

“We average 12 events per year,” Tadych said. “Overall, last season was about average.”

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Jim Williams, Hamilton’s public works director, said 13 drivers were ready to salt and plow the city’s streets, if necessary, starting at 7 p.m. Monday. Even if snow accumulation was minimal into this morning, crews would be tasked with tackling road that became slippery or frozen over in certain sports.

The city’s salt dome is stocked with 1,900 tons of salt. Last year, the city used 2,900 tons of salt, about 1,188 overtime hours and $304,428 on snow removal costs, including salt, employee hours, fuel and calcium.

Dave Butsch, Fairfield’s public works director, said his city had 28 drivers on call Monday, 14 for each 12-hour shift, plus about 4,500 tons of salt.

Last winter, the city spread 3,521 tons of salt, and snow removal costs amounted to $356.436 in labor & materials, Butsch said.

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Salt usage has been “pretty average” over the past 10 years, he said, averaging 3,881 tons per season and $380,048 in labor and materials per season, he said.

The Butler County Engineer’s Office has 13,000 tons of salt stored in two barns, each with a capacity of 6,500 tons. Last year, the BCEO used 4,696 tons of salt, which is significantly less than the average 6,200 tons spread in a typical Butler County winter.

This year the BCEO awarded its salt contract for the upcoming winter season to Cargill Inc., which submitted a low bid of $73.21 per ton, an increase of more than $10 per ton fromlast year.

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