Record Christmas snowfall in Cleveland tapers off to flurries

CLEVELAND (AP) - A winter storm that dumped more than two feet of snow in parts of Ohio tapered off to flurries Thursday, leaving behind a Christmas-record snowfall in Cleveland and contributing to one death.

The snow ended across most of Ohio by early Thursday, but flurries persisted in parts of the Snowbelt along the Interstate 90 corridor between Cleveland and Erie, Pa.

City plow drivers who worked eight hours clearing streets on Christmas Day were called back to duty three hours early Thursday in North Kingsville, located 60 miles northeast of Cleveland.

"It's pretty clear. Everything is salted," said Tom Peters, street superintendent for North Kingsville.

As for the wintry scene off the roads, he said, "It's pretty. The trees are pretty."

North Kingsville got more than one foot of snow on Wednesday and another inch before dawn Thursday, Peters said.

Snowfall totals ranged from 1 inch in Cincinnati to more than 10 inches in Cleveland.

The State Highway Patrol said a slippery road was a factor in a two-car crash that killed a man about 10:20 a.m. Wednesday in Portage County's Paris Township, about 30 miles southeast of

A car slid left of center and into a pickup truck on a snow-covered state Route 5, killing the car's driver, Michael A. Demattio, 30, of Ravenna, said Lt. George Williams of the patrol's Ravenna post.

John R. Runion, 36, of Warren, who was driving the pickup, was taken to Robinson Memorial Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman would not release any information on his condition, but a patrol
dispatcher said his injury was not considered life threatening.

In Hardin County, about 55 miles northwest of Columbus, a man was killed in a snowmobile accident Wednesday, the sheriff's office said. Deputies said Todd Spearman, 38, of Kenton, was driving the snowmobile at a high rate of speed when he apparently lost control and struck a tree.

The National Weather Service said 10.2 inches of snow fell at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from midnight to 9 p.m. Wednesday, making it the whitest Christmas on record in the city.

Hopkins officials had to close the airport's runways at about 10:45 a.m. for 45 minutes, and alternated runways during the afternoon while plowing.

The previous record for Christmas snow in Cleveland was 5.8 inches in 1944, the weather service said.

The snowstorm, blowing out of the Plains, has been blamed for more than a dozen deaths since Monday, mostly related to traffic accidents. Moving east Wednesday, the storm left more than two feet of snow on the ground in parts of upstate New York.

Six inches of snow fell Wednesday in northwest Ohio, while the southern part of the state had little accumulation as rain also fell, the weather service said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)