The Final Tally on the Long Winter of 2013-2014 Part 1

For a good portion of the US, the winter of 2013-2014 was one of the worst, if not the worst, in recent memory. Cold and snow hit early in the season and didn’t let up until the first half of March. Now that April is behind us (the last month that snow typically might fall during a season), we can take a look back at a winter many would like to forget.

A Look Back at Snowfall
For many in Central Ohio, winter provided its first taste on October 23rd, when a cold front briefly changed rain to a wet snow that coated car tops. This was merely a prelude to what would come.

2013-14 Winter Snowfall vs. Normal
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As can be seen, monthly snowfall was above normal in 5 of the 7 months that snow can potentially fall in, in some cases more than 2x the normal value.

November Notable Snow Events
November 11-12th, 2013: This was the first real accumulating snowfall of the season, dropping a general 1″-2″ across the area. The highest total in Franklin County was 2″ reported just southeast of Clintonville. A map of the event can be found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131112/

November 26th-27th, 2013: The months 2nd and larger event occurred towards the end of the month, and dropped 1″-4″ across the county, with the higher totals on the east side of Columbus. A map of the event can be found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131127/

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The November total of 4.7″, while not anywhere near record breaking, was a top 20 snowiest, coming in at #14. November 2013 was also the snowiest Columbus had seen since 1972, when 6.3″ fell.
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December Notable Snow Events
December 6th, 2013: This was the first major event of the season. A low pressure center brought rain to the area on the 5th. As temperatures cooled, rain gradually changed to freezing rain and then heavy snow, dropping 3″-6″ across the area. A map of this event can be found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131206/

December 10th, 2013: The second event of the month was a persistent band of snow that set up alon I-71. The cold air produced high ratios, dropping 1″-3″. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131210/

December 14th, 2013: Rain changed to snow along and north of I-71. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20131214/

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December’s 12.7″ total was 2 1/2x normal, and the first 10 days of the month were the snowiest on record. It also made the month the 8th snowiest December on record. Further, it was the 2nd consecutive above average December and the 5th since 2007 to be so.

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January Notable Snow Events
January 2nd, 2014: The new year started off as snowy as the previous ended, when a low pressure brought occasionally heavy snow and 3″-5″ across the city. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140102/

January 18th-19th, 2014: A clipper system, Columbus’ most reliable snow producer, brought 1″-2″ across the area. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140119/

January 25th-26th, 2014: The months’ signature event, a strong storm brough a mixed bag of precipitation, including heavy snow to parts of the city. As the storm passed, additional snow squalls developed into the 26th and brought occasional whiteout conditions. Columbus’ official 2-day total was 8.3″. A map of the event can be found here, though it only lists totals for the 25th: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140125/

All told, the 17.7″ of snow for the month was the 16th snowiest on record, and the 8.3″ snow event tied for the 10th largest January event since records began.
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February Notable Snow Events

February 4th-5th, 2014: A low pressure brought heavy snow and mixed precipitation to the area, and proved to be winter’s largest snow event with 6″-10″ across the city. The 10.6″ at Columbus was the largest storm of the winter, tied as the 3rd largest February snowstorm, and provided the 7th largest daily February snowfall. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140205/

February 9th, 2014: A weak system brought 1″-3″. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140209/

February 14th-15th, 2014: Valentines Day brought a storm that skimmed the area with 2″-4″, with much higher totals to the south. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140215/

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February’s 15.9″ of snow was the 6th snowiest on record.
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March Notalbe Snow Events

March 2nd-3rd, 2014: A low pressure brought 2-3″ over the city. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140302/

March 29th, 2014: A storm brought in 1″-2″ in spring’s first week. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/iln/events/20140329/

March did not break any records or have any large events, but it was more or less a capping month to a winter the kept snowing.

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April saw just one snow event, on the 15th, when half an inch to 1″ fell, ending the snowfall season.

So where did 2013-2014 fall in the seasonal total? 56.4″ This ranks it as the 3rd snowiest winter since records began in 1878. It was also the #1 snowiest meteorological winter (December-February) on record. The graph below shows the top 10 snowiest winters. Notice that 4 of the 10 have occurred since 2002, with 3 since 2007. Are we possibly entering a snowier period? That remains to be seen.

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Coming up: How did the winter’s temperatures rank in history? We know there was a lot of cold, but how much?