Worst Winters of All Time?

As summer slowly approaches its inevitable end, thoughts of winter have started to creep into our minds. The last two winters seemed particularly harsh, and questions were often asked as to their historic status as well as whether another bad winter was on the way. Ask any older person in Ohio, and the winters between 1976 and 1979 will often come up. But do they really deserve their reputations? To find out, I came up with a ranking system for meteorological winter only- December through February. Here was the criteria:

Temperature: # of 32 or Below Highs, # of 32 or Below Lows, # of 0 or Below Highs, # of 0 or Below Lows: Each earned the winter a point for each day that featured these conditions.
# of 60 or Above Highs and # of 50 or Above Lows meant a point was removed for each occurrence.

Precipitation: # of Days with Measurable Snowfall, # of 1″+ Snow Days, # of 2.5″+ Snow Days, # of 5″+ Snow Days, # of 10″+ Snow Days as well as # of Measurable Precipitation Days all counted as 1 point for each occurrence.

I then added the temperature and precipitation points together to come up with a ranking for how miserable each winter really was.

Here are the 30 worst winters of all time and their total points.

1. 1976-1977: 240
2. 1977-1978: 238
3. 1969-1970: 230
4. 2002-2003: 228
5. 1978-1979: 226
6. 1880-1881: 225
7. 1917-1918: 223
8. 1935-1936: 220
9. 2013-2014: 219
10. 1892-1893, 1962-1963: 218
11. 1909-1910: 217
12. 1995-1996, 2009-2010: 208
13. 2010-2011: 207
14. 1903-1904: 204
15. 1981-1982: 202
16. 1911-1912, 1963-1964: 197
17. 1886-1887, 1919-1920: 196
18. 1904-1905: 195
19. 1984-1985: 194
20. 1916-1917: 193
21. 1894-1895: 191
22. 1883-1884: 189
23. 2000-2001: 188
24. 1947-1948, 1961-1962: 187
25. 1993-1994: 186
26. 1884-1885, 1939-1940: 185
27. 1983-1984, 1987-1988: 183
28. 1902-1903, 2014-2015: 182
29. 1954-1955: 180
30. 1878-1879, 1882-1883, 1960-1961, 1985-1986, 2003-2004, 2008-2009: 179

Do any of these surprise you? Both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 are in the top 30 worst, but only 2013-2014 is in the top 10. In fact, other recent winters like 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 are all ranked worse than last winter. There have been a surprising number of recent winters in the top 30, however. There have been 8 total since 2000. No other similar time frame has produced as many.

And here are the 30 best winters (if you like warm, snowless, dry winters, that is).

1. 1931-1932: 74
2. 1889-1890: 75
3. 1879-1880: 86
4. 1997-1998: 102
5. 1881-1882, 1943-1944: 111
6. 2001-2002: 112
7. 1996-1997: 115
8. 1948-1949, 1953-1954: 118
9. 1941-1942, 1982-1983: 120
10. 1918-1919: 122
11. 1936-1937: 123
12. 1932-1933, 1991-1992: 124
13. 1930-1931: 125
14. 1905-1906, 1972-1973: 126
15. 1949-1950: 128
16. 1897-1898, 1986-1987: 129
17. 2011-2012: 130
18. 1938-1939: 131
19. 1937-1938: 134
20. 1908-1909, 1920-1921, 2005-2006: 135
21. 1924-1925: 137
22. 1896-1897: 138
23. 1927-1928, 1929-1930, 1940-1941, 1990-1991: 139
24. 1952-1953: 140
25. 1921-1922, 1945-1946, 1998-1999: 141
26. 1988-1989: 143
27. 1891-1892: 144
28. 1946-1947, 1971-1972: 145
29. 1912-1913, 1934-1935: 147
30. 1923-1924, 1992-1993: 148

Look how many of the warmest/least snowy occur between 1920 and 1945. Historically, this period had the fewest number of cold and/or snowy winters on record of any such 25-year period.

And what about winter 2015-2016? Well, that remains to be seen. However, the developing strong El Nino suggests a warmer than average winter. However, factors such as its position (west or east-based) as well as the PDO could throw some wrenches into that standard El Nino forecast. Either way, it will likely not be a top 30 worst.

Winter 2014-2015: A Look Back- November 2014

While it’s still possible to get snow into April, winter is essentially over for one more year. For the second year in a row, winter was colder and snowier than normal, so let’s look at the monthly play-by-play as well as the final stats.

November 2014
First, a reminder of November normals.
High: 52.6
Low: 36.1
Mean: 44.4
Precipitation: 3.20″
Snowfall: 0.9″
Snow Depth: 0.0″

November 2014 Average High: 45.7
1878-2014 Ranking: 10th Coldest
Departure from Normal: -6.9

November 2014 Average Low: 30.0
1878-2014 Ranking: 6th Coldest
Departure from Normal: -6.1

November 2014 Mean Temperature: 37.8
1878-2014 Ranking: 7th Coldest
Departure from Normal: -6.6

Coldest November 2014 High: 19 on the 18th
1878-2014 Ranking: 5th Coldest
The 19 recorded on the 18th was the record coldest high ever recorded for the date, beating the previous 1903 record by a full 7 degrees!
Other near record low highs:
33 on the 17th. 3rd coldest daily high for the date.
27 on the 21st. 3rd coldest daily high for the date.

Coldest November 2014 Low: 12 on the 18th.
1878-2014 Ranking: 8th Coldest
The 12 recorded on the 18th was the 2nd coldest low ever recorded for the date.
Other near record lows:
13 on the 19th. 2nd coldest low for the date.
14 on the 21st. 2nd coldest low for the date.

Number of Highs 32 Degrees or Below: 4
1878-2014 Rank: 5th Highest

Number of Lows 32 Degrees or Below: 19
1878-2014 Rank: 4th Highest

November 2014 was clearly very cold historically, coming in as a top 10 coldest ever.

The month overall was rather dry, with just 1.46″ of precipitation, which was 1.74″ below normal. This was the 22nd driest November since 1878.

November 2014 Precipitation Days: 20
1″+ Daily Precipitation Days: 0
0.5″+ Daily Precipitation Days: 0
0.25″+ Daily Precipitation Days: 3

Snowfall, despite the dry month, came in at a bit above normal, at 4.1″. Still, this was the 15th snowiest November on record, as the graph shows.

Greatest November 2014 Daily Snowfall: 3.8″ on the 17th.
1878-2014 Rank: 10th Greatest
The 3.8″ on the 17th was also the 2nd highest total for the date.

Snowfall Days: 9
1″+ Snowfall Days: 1
2.5″+ Snowfall Days: 1
5″+ Snowfall Days: 0

Greatest Daily Snow Depth: 3″ on the 18th and 19th.
Average Monthly Snow Depth: 0.4″

Random Columbus Photos #2

Photo Date: Unknown, Pre-1910
Location: The southeastern corner watchtower of the Ohio Penitentiary site.

The old Ohio Penitentiary first opened up in 1834. The most iconic building of the complex was that which lined West Spring Street and built during the Civil War. It can be seen in the background of the photo as the light building. The Ohio Pen had an interesting, and occasionally disastrous, life. On April 21, 1930, a massive fire broke out that would kill 322 inmates and become the worst prison fire in United State history. At its peak in 1955, the prison held over 5,200 inmates. After that year, the prison population steadily declined, and in 1984, the prison transferred its final inmates to other facilities, effectively ceasing operations. About 12 years later, a portion of the outer wall collapsed onto some cars, and the city began to aggressively plan a new life for the site. In 1998, despite some protests to save some of the historic buildings, the entire complex was demolished to make way for new development as part of the Arena District. Today, the only reminder of the prison site is that the eastern edge of McPherson Commons park runs along the same line as the original outer wall.

Questions Answers: Columbus/Ohio Tornado History

In the second installment of Questions Answered, quite a few searches on my site deal with tornado history. The following link is a perfect source for this. Someone can search by date, location and strength of tornados back to 1950.

Enjoy!

http://www.tornadohistoryproject.com/search/basic

Random Columbus Photos #1

Photo Date: January 15, 1936
Location: Parkwood Avenue, East Linden

This random street scene photo was taken during the frigid winter of 1935-36. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the photo was taken, only that the style of homes indicates that it was taken looking north between Earl and Denune Avenues. Little has changed on Parkwood in the last 79 years. The area still looks and feels a little rural, and there are still no sidewalks. The one change, however, is that the roads are no longer dirt.

The day of the photo was fairly mild, with highs in the mid-40s. The next day, however, a snowstorm struck that dropped about 5″ of snow, and just a week later, temperatures hit 16 degrees below zero.