“I love winter, but this amount of snow is crazy for November,” wrote one Instagram user on Friday morning
Northeast Ohio is used to the snow. Situated firmly in the snow belt of Lake Erie, seasonal amounts can accumulate feet upon feet by the end of winter. But that doesn’t make the first lake effect snow event any less inconvenient, especially when it hammers the region with over a foot of snow in fewer than 24 hours.
“I love winter, but this amount of snow is crazy for November,” wrote one Instagram user on Friday morning.
The flakes began to fly early Thursday morning from Cleveland to Erie, Pa., when rain changed over to snow, fueled by the relatively warm water of Lake Erie. By 10 a.m., a strong band of lake effect snow had set up over Lake and Ashtabula counties — the two northeastern-most counties in Ohio.
Lake County, which has accumulated at least a foot as of Friday morning, took the brunt of the storm on Thursday. A snow emergency was declared in Mentor, Ohio when snow began to fall too fast for road crews to clear it out.
Thunder was booming across the region as the snow poured from the sky. Thundersnow is not unheard of, but it’s rare — it requires very strong uplift in the atmosphere, which also just happens to produce extremely large snowfall amounts.
Chris Zimmer caught the lightning and thunder in Mentor, Ohio, on Thursday afternoon:
The ill-timing of the storm meant that some of the heaviest snow fell during the evening commute. Major thoroughfares, including Interstate 90, turned into traffic nightmares on Thursday evening, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
A stuck semi and other vehicles were cleared and the interstate reopened just after 9 p.m., said Trooper Ryan Orose of the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Geauga Post.
However, travel remained treacherous on the road late Thursday and early Friday morning. Just after midnight, Mentor police began diverting traffic off of I-90 eastbound lanes at Ohio 615 north to Ohio 2 because of slick conditions. Salt trucks from the Ohio Department of Transportation were on the way to treat the interstate, police said.
The section was reopened at about 2:45 a.m.
“It takes a number of things to line up for (lake-effect snow) to get going, but they did line up today,” NWS meteorologist Brian Mitchell told the Plain Dealer.
Mentor schools are closed on Friday due to the weather and road conditions.
And the snow keeps coming in the Cleveland metro area. On Friday morning, the western suburbs were getting hit the hardest, with snowfall rates up to three inches per hour falling in the west side suburb of Bedford, Ohio.
Lake effect snow warnings and advisories are in effect across the region through Saturday morning. Given the heavy band of snow that has set up over the western suburbs on Friday morning, a lake effect snow advisory was upgraded to a warning in Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland.
The National Weather Service is expecting at least two to five inches of snow through Friday afternoon, with another four inches on Friday night. Of course, in areas where a particularly heavy band sets up, all bets are off in terms of potential accumulation — some areas could see up to 20 inches of snow by the time this lake effect event is over on Saturday.