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Northeast Ohio snow expected to intensify Thursday evening

Cleveland's Guardians of Traffic on a snowy Thursday afternoon. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]
Cleveland's Guardians of Traffic on Hope Memorial Bridge and a plow truck in the snow.

Updated: 6:22 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022

The worst of the winter storm is coming Thursday afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service.

“I think the snow rates will average between half an inch and an inch an hour in that time frame,” said NWS meteorologist Jim Sullivan. “It's going to be a pretty steady moderate to borderline heavy snow for several hours.”

Expect another 4 to 8 inches of snow, he warned.

Though Akron and its southern suburbs saw less snow than expected, the wintery mix has caused problems in the area.

“Even a few miles south of Akron, there's been some sleet mixing in at times today and then once you head pretty much across the Summit and Stark County border, they really haven't seen any snow today, it's been sleet and freezing rain all day in the Canton area,” Sullivan said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has about a thousand crews plowing roads statewide. In district 12, encompassing Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties, ODOT warned on Twitter at 4:15 p.m. the snow is picking up and roadways are moving slowly.

Akron Public Schools will be closed Friday, and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will continue with remote learning.

All Cleveland Public Library locations are closed Friday.

In Cleveland, dozens of city service trucks are up against the elements clearing roads.

The city says 59 vehicles are clearing snow from streets as of late Thursday afternoon, and about a quarter of residential streets have been plowed at least once.

According to the city, plows made multiple passes on main streets in the first shift of the day which runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Justin Bibb says 30 laborers began clearing crosswalks and bus stops Downtown and have moved out from there.

She says the city’s goal is to complete residential streets overnight, and then the plowing and salting starts all over again Friday morning.

A snowplow passes through Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood Thursday afternoon. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, FirstEnergy reported 321 power outages in Cuyahoga County and less than ten in Summit and Stark counties. Sandusky had the most outages with just over 3,900.

Warming centers in Cleveland are open for anyone seeking refuge from the cold.

The Michael Zone, Zelma George, Collinwood and Sterline Recreation Centers are all open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday. The city will decide whether to continue the warming centers through the weekend.

Akron will open four rec centers for extended hours on Friday and Saturday. The Lawton Street, Mason Park, Patterson Park and Summit Lake community centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Homeless shelters in Cleveland are open for anyone needing a bed and meals. 

The men's shelter at 2100 Lakeside was at 75% capacity as of Wednesday, according to Michael Sering with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry which runs the facility. This site plus a partner location have more than 100 beds available and doors are open 24/7.

“The operating ethos of our shelter system is that no one gets turned away because of weather or because of anything,” Sering said. “We definitely have enough beds.”

The YWCA-operated Norma Herr Women's Center on Payne Avenue as well as the shelter on West 25th Street are also open.

Additional reporting by Glenn Forbes, Nick Castele and Jenny Hamel.

Annie Wu is the deputy editor of digital content for Ideastream Public Media.