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Cold air on its way after brief warm spell

Slick roads again expected in Toledo area Friday

For the second morning of three, Toledoans are likely to awake Friday to roadways slickened by freezing rain and sleet.

This time, however, will mark the advance of cold air replacing warm air, instead of the other way around.

But as of Thursday afternoon, weather forecasters no longer expected a winter storm forming along that cold front during its advance to significantly affect northwest Ohio.

While long-range forecasts earlier this week suggested the Toledo area might get half a foot or more of snow, that storm’s development and path gradually shifted east, and by Thursday the heaviest snow was forecast for areas east of Cleveland.

Snowfall around Toledo was expected to range between 1 and 3 inches, while the National Weather Service office in White Lake, Mich., predicted 1 to 4 inches in southeast Michigan.

Jay Berschback, chief meteorologist with WTVG-TV Channel 13, gave a slightly higher estimate of 2 to 4 inches in Toledo, and said higher accumulations were likely well to the city’s southeast.

But before that, the forecasters cautioned, mixed precipitation early Friday could leave an icy glaze of one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch around the region.

The cold front’s passage also was expected to plunge area temperatures from the mid-50s late Thursday night to the 20s by late morning, accompanied by a robust northerly wind. The mercury is expected to fall into the teens Friday night and not top 20 until Monday, when Mr. Berschback said a light snow of 1 to 2 inches was probable in Toledo.

Warm air’s advance Wednesday above colder air near the surface had triggered freezing rain that resulted in a spate of traffic crashes and slip-and-fall injuries across Toledo. The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority suspended service for more than an hour after two of its buses were involved in crashes, including one that seriously injured a pedestrian.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday, the temperature at Toledo Express Airport topped out at 58 degrees — well shy of the 68-degree record for Jan. 11 but still 25 degrees above normal for the date and a sharp contrast to the teens-and-lower chill that predominated locally between Christmas and last weekend

The brief January thaw may have contributed to an incident Wednesday night on Lake Erie off Monroe County that left an unidentified man missing.

Authorities resumed a search Thursday for the rider of a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle that fell through the lake ice off Stoney Point in Frenchtown Township.

Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies, the Frenchtown Fire Department, and the Coast Guard were dispatched to the scene off Lakeshore Drive near Nelson Drive about 9 p.m. Wednesday in response to a report of the rider falling through the ice about 1,000 feet offshore, the sheriff’s office said.

The search confirmed the presence of an area of open water about 12 feet in diameter where the rider was reported to have gone missing, but neither the person nor the vehicle was immediately located. Because of unstable ice and weather conditions, deputies said, the search was suspended until daylight Thursday.

No further statements about the search’s progress were issued during the day Thursday.

The Coast Guard on Wednesday had issued a warning that anyone venturing onto Great Lakes ice use extreme caution because warming conditions and shifting winds could make the ice unstable.

Contact David Patch at dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.

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