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Kent Saves on Salt with Snow Nowhere to be Found

This year marks least snowy winter since 2005-2006

Kent saved thousands of dollars in road salt with snowfall well below average this winter.

The city has saved $100,415 in just the first three months of 2012 on salt expenses compared with the first three months of 2011, according to the service department.

The city spent $140,730 on salt alone in the months of January through March of 2011. With no snow in the forecast, Kent looks to escape March having only spent $40,315 on salt since Jan. 1 of this year.

The savings is thanks largely to Kent having its least snowy winter since 2005-2006.

Local meteorologist Thomas Schmidlin, a geography professor at Kent State University, has measured precipitation at his Brady Lake property for 26 years. Schmidlin's numbers show Kent saw 39 inches of total snowfall this winter compared with 120 inches that fell in the winter of 2010-2011.

Schmidlin said we had only 19 days with snow cover this winter with never more than five days of snow cover in a row before a melt.

"This winter (December through February) was 4.5 degrees warmer than average," he said. "Last winter was 4 degrees colder than average. The whole northern U.S. had a mild winter with little snow in most places."

Schmidlin said the reason for the mild winter is the prevailing storm track remained north, and that prevented arctic air from entering Ohio for much of the past few months.

"That meant little lake effect snow," he said. "Last winter the storm track was farther south and gave frequent arctic air events and lake effect snow into Ohio. Many areas had record large snow totals last year."

Less snow this year meant the city also saved on labor costs this winter by sending out fewer plow truck drivers for shorter periods of time less often.

Kent spent $123,000 to keep plow trucks manned during the first three months of 2011. So far this year, the city has spent a little more than half that on labor at $71,000, according to the service department.

In total, all of Kent's 2011 snowfall expenses — for both labor and materials — were $268,000. So far this year, the city's total cost for 2012 is $111,000.

But we still have November and December to go. And, unless you've forgotten, it on April 1, 2011.

Yet it doesn't look like more snow is in the forecast, at least with temperatures in the 70s forecast for much of this week.

Earlier this month, regions across the U.S. set new record high temperatures. More than 1,200 new record high temperatures were set between March 8 and March 14, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

"At least two-thirds of the nation could wind up with above-normal temperatures [this spring]," said Paul Pastelok, a long-range meteorologist with AccuWeather.com

Pastelok forecast that the U.S. could see the most widespread warmth this spring since 2004.

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