Warm Days In Winter Keep Road Salt Piles Intact

CLEVELAND (AP) - A nearly snowless winter has so far spared many Ohio communities from using up salt supplies that sometimes were purchased when fears of a harsh winter created strong demand.

"We scared off the snow gods," says Gary Starr, Middleburg Heights mayor and rock salt chairman of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association.

The Middleburg Heights salt mounds that cost $281,000 will possibly have to keep until next year.

From Nov. 1 through Thursday, the temperature averaged 40.1 degrees at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport: that's warmer than any other November-through-January period since 1950, the earliest year for which data from the airport is available.

Through Thursday, 11 inches of snow had fallen at Hopkins this winter, compared with the normal 31.3 inches through January.

Jim Bissell, Cleveland Museum of Natural History botanist, worries that fruit buds are opening too widely to survive frosts. But farmers are hoping for much maple sap, pumped by the usual cool nights and the unusual warm days, said Erik Draper, state horticulture agent for Geauga County.

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