CINCINNATI — The weekend offered Ohioans a needed break from this winter's brutal cold and storms.
Light snow was forecast Saturday across the northern part of the state, but skies were sunny early and temperatures climbed past 50 in much of Ohio. Some folks broke out short-sleeved polo shirts and shorts.
The National Weather Service says much of the state has had the most snow and worst cold this winter in decades. The capital of Columbus has had eight days of subzero temperatures and Cincinnati seven, both the most since the winter of 1989-'90.
Just last Sunday, a storm dumped 2 to 5 inches of more snow across Ohio, with many areas also getting ice and sleet. Winter's not over, and freezing temperatures and possible snow are expected over the next week.
In the meantime, business owners and event organizers are counting on people to seek relief from cabin fever by getting out for local attractions, festivals and Lenten fish fries.
"It's going to be huge. People have been snowed in for so long, they're going to want to get out and do something," said Mike Stokes, waiting in short sleeves Saturday morning to lead a Cincy Brew Bus tour of Cincinnati breweries and brewing history, with samples. "It's just been freezing cold craziness this winter."
The Cincinnati Zoo says attendance is off somewhat this winter, although there have been good crowds on pleasant days to offset the extreme weather days.
"Humans aren't the only one excited about warmer weather," said zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnes. "Many of our animals will be more active, sunning and excited to see the sun."
While some retailers have had business hurt by the harsh winter, Cincinnati-based grocery chain Kroger Co. has seen some benefits. The company said, while reporting fourth-quarter results Thursday showing sales at established stores were up an impressive 4.3 percent, that it sped up deliveries ahead of storms to keep shelves well-stocked for shoppers who made pre-storm runs to lay in supplies.
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