March 7-8, 2008- Columbus’ Greatest Snowstorm

**Originally posted on 12/29/12.
On the eve of the anniversary of Columbus’ biggest snowstorm, I thought I would repost this. Makes you appreciate just how mild and uneventful Winter 2015-2016 has been, doesn’t it?

More than one week prior to the Blizzard of 2008, models had been hinting at a significant storm somewhere in the eastern US. Initially, models took the storm up the East Coast, but as the storm neared, models moved it further and further west and settled upon a track just west/just along the spine of the Appalachians. The track waffled for days, but never strayed far from the Appalachian track. Because the storm was originating near the Gulf of Mexico, models were showing the storm pulling vast amounts of moisture north into cold air over the Ohio Valley. Simply put, the track and conditions were being forecast to be perfect for a significant Ohio snowstorm.

Local forecasters, however, weren’t buying it… at least not at first. Four days before the storm, neither the NWS nor the television forecasters were calling for a significant event. The winter of 2007-08 had brought several storm busts, and none of them seemed ready to buy into another one. So right up to 24-36 hours before the event began, forecasters were calling for 6″ maximum north and west of the I-71 corridor with a mix along the corridor and mostly rain to the south and east. So, right up until the end, many Ohioans were led to believe that this would be a large, but still a run-of-the-mill, snow event.

My personal account of the storm:

On Thursday, March 6th, I worked a 12-hour day at my store. Customers were talking about forecasts of 4-8″, which in central Ohio is significant in and of itself. We typically get one or two 6″ storms, but rarely up to 8″ and almost never more than that. In fact, in all of Columbus history, there have been less than a dozen snow events that broke double digits. Still, in the talking there were whispers that the storm would be more significant. By Thursday night when I arrived home, I discovered the radar was lit up over the South with a growing area of precipitation heading north. Temperatures had already cooled into the low 30s as a cold front had moved through during the day. Forecasts had changed late in the afternoon, and there were many calls of 6-10″ along I-71 by Sunday.

Friday, March 7th was my day off, and I woke up before 8am in the excitement and inticipation of the impending snow. The radar was showing returns north of the Ohio River then and it was already snowing in Cincinnati. Finally, at 9:05am, flurries began to fall and quickly intensified to a steady, windblown snow. A 9:30, I left the house to go to the store. By the time I reached it, the snow had turned heavy and was accumulating quickly. Visibility had dropped to a 1/4 mile at times and many roads were already snowcovered by the time I reached home.

The snow continued throughout the day and forecasts kept changing, finally settling on 10-15″ along the I-71 corridor with little to no mixing. Meanwhile, the snow continued into the evening and overnight hours of the 7th. Although it did lighten somewhat towards midnight, it never completely stopped. By midnight, in any case, 5-7″ had fallen throughout Columbus and central Ohio, which set a daily record.

Saturday, March 8th dawned very wintry. By dawn, no less than 10″ was on the ground and the snow was continuing to fall heavily. Overnight, blizzard warnings had gone up for all of the NWS Wilmington forecast zone as winds were expected to increase during the day. Winds were generally sustained near 20mph in the morning and increased during the late morning/early afternoon. Heavy snow and winds combined to create total whiteout conditions at times, and every county along I-71 from Cincinatti to Cleveland went under a level 2 or level 3 snow emergency.

At 11am, I went for a walk in the snow. It was still falling heavily and roads were nearly impassable with deep snow. Cars in some cases were buried in snow.

By 2pm, a break in the snowfall came as the low moved to the east of Ohio. When it moved into New York, wraparound snow moved back into the area for 3-4 more hours before ending by 6:30pm Saturday afternoon. The sun even poked through the clouds as it set, producing a very picturesque and beautiful winter scene. A fitting end to the day.

All in all, it was a record setting snowstorm all across the state. Columbus’ 20.5″ of snowfall, including 15.5″ on Saturday alone, was the greatest snowstorm of all time for the city. It also established the greatest 24-hour snowfall and the greatest snow depth ever recorded at 18″. No part of the state was spared, as all major cities except Toledo had 10″ or more. Drifts of 5-7 feet deep were reported in many areas.

The storm also brought some areas of the state to record territory in total seasonal snowfall.

Incidentally, 30 years and 2 months prior, the Great Blizzard of 1978 struck. It is somewhat of note that Ohio’s greatest blizzards on record occurred during the “8” years. 1918, 1978, and now 2008.

The first image below is a model snow depth forecast ending on March 9th. The second is a photo of the heavy snow in Columbus during the evening of the 7th.
Forecasted snowfall-March 5, 2008
382008_1.gif

Here are some videos during the storm.
Dayton Area
https://youtu.be/sEJ5diRfP88
Cleveland Area
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxS60SYXn24
Columbus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpgKmawafwk

Year in Review 2014: March-May

Development News
March
-Plans were announced to redevelop Poindexter Village with 350 residential units, as well as community center and park space.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/poindexter-plan-calls-for-350-multi-family-units-urban-farm-bw1
-A new brewery announced it would be moving into space on West Town Street in Franklinton.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/03/land-grant-brewing-finally-finds-home.html
-A new 42-unit residential development was announced for Downtown Dublin.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/03/crawford-hoying-planning-42-luxury.html
-101 residential units were proposed for 991 Dennison Avenue in Victorian Village.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/new-five-story-101-unit-apartment-building-proposed-for-victorian-village
-Columbus announced plans to use $2.5 billion to build infrastructure to reduce runoff and pollution issues, including creating water gardens and new parks across the city.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/green-infrastructure-and-neighborhood-pocket-parks-part-of-blueprint-columbus-plan-bw1
-Reeb Elementary on the South Side was announced to be turned into a community center.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/03/21/south-side-community-center-gets-go-ahead.html
-New caps, similar to the existing retail cap on High Street over I-670 were announced to be in the works as part of the 70/71 rebuild. The caps would replace the highway bridges on S. High and S. Third between Downtown and German Village.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/caps-planned-for-high-and-third-street-bridges-south-of-downtown-bw1

April
-A vacant 1880s building a 140 N. Grant was announced to be renovated into mixed-use and residential.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2014/04/10/former-inkling-printing-building-on-east-long-to.html
-40 units of affordable housing was proposed for vacant buildings at Long and Front Downtown.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/affordable-housing-development-proposed-at-long-front-downtown
-Plans to renovate the Citizens Building at the southwest corner of Gay and High Downtown were announced, as well as building a new mixed-use building on the northwest corner.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/edwards-communities-contemplates-infill-at-gay-and-high
-Plans were also announced to renovate hundreds of apartments in the Metro West complex behind Westland Mall.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/04/mitt-romney-affiliate-buys-most-of-metro-west.html

May
-The Short North Donatos announced plans to rebuild into a new restaurant with 2nd floor patio and additional spaces for more retail.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/short-north-donatos-demolition-and-new-build
-The Byers Chevrolet site on West Broad Street in Franklinton was purchased by Nationwide Reality for a potential mixed-use project.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/nri-to-redevelop-byers-chevrolet-site-in-franklinton
-Casto announced plans for a 152-unit residential complex overlooking the Scioto River near Hayden Road.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/casto-to-build-apartments-overlooking-scioto-river.html
-41 new homes were coming to N. Grant Avenue in Weinland Park.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/wagenbrenner-adding-market-rate-homes-in-weinland.html
-A small condo development was proposed for Summit in Italian Village.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/condos-proposed-for-first-and-summit-in-italian-village-bw1
-Children’s Hospital announced plans for 2 new buildings on Livingston Avenue.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/05/28/Nationwide-Childrens-Hospital-plans-expansion.html
-The Stoddart Block, a historic residential building, would be renovated into micro apartments.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/stoddart-block-affordable-housing-downtown

Economic News
-Home sales declined in all 3 months of March-May, as demand far outpaced supply.
-The unemployment rate continued to fall to multi-year lows.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2014/05/20/regional-central-ohio-unemployment-falls-april.html
-Columbus was named the 6th most affordable metro in the nation.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/ohio-cities-ranked-among-most-affordable-housing.html

Other News
-Columbus’ population was announced to have grown by more than 12,000 people between 2012-2013, and reached a population of 822,553 in 2013.
-Columbus was named one of the top cities for entrepreneurs.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/columbus-tops-in-ohio-among-best-cities-for.html
-Columbus was named a top city where people could accomplish their dreams/goals.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/columbus-ranked-6th-on-list-of-american-dream-cities-jb1

March Jobs Data

Columbus City
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since March 2012: -0.5
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.7
Civilian Labor Force: 424,700
Civilian Labor Force Change since March 2012: -100
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: -1,700
Employment: 398,800
Employment Change since March 2012: +1,900
Employment Change since January 2013: +4,000
Unemployment: 25,900
Unemployment Change since March 2012: -2,000
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -4,900

Franklin County
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since March 2012: -0.4
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.7
Civilian Labor Force: 621,100
Civilian Labor Force Change since March 2012: +0
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: -2,600
Employment: 583,300
Employment Change since March 2012: +2,700
Employment Change since January 2013: +5,900
Unemployment: 37,900
Unemployment Change since March 2012: -2,700
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -4,700

Columbus Metro Area
Unemployment Rate: 6.2%
Unemployment Rate Change since March 2012: -0.4
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.8
Civilian Labor Force: 963,200
Civilian Labor Force Change since March 2012: +300
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: -4,700
Employment: 903,900
Employment Change since March 2012: +4,200
Employment Change since January 2013: +3,400
Unemployment: 59,300
Unemployment Change since March 2012: -3,900
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -8,100

Ohio Overall
Unemployment Rate: 7.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since March 2012: -0.3
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013 : +0.1
Civilian Labor Force: 5,744,000
Civilian Labor Force Change since March 2012: -26,000
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +4,200
Employment: 5,388,000
Employment Change since March 2012: -8,000
Employment Change since January 2013: -3,000
Unemployment: 407,000
Unemployment Change since March 2012: -18,000
Unemployment Change since January 2013: +7,200

Non-Farm Jobs
Total: 943,300
Change from March 2012: +5,000
Change from January 2013: -300

By Industry
Mining/Logging/Construction Total: 26,800
Change from March 2012: -900
Change from January 2013: -100

Manufacturing Total: 65,200
Change from March 2012: -200
Change from January 2013: +200

Trade/Transportation/Utilities Total: 179,300
Change from March 2012: -500
Change from January 2013: -2,900

Information Total: 16,400
Change from March 2012: -300
Change from January 2013: -100

Financial Activities Total: 71,700
Change from March 2012: +700
Change from January 2013: +0

Professional and Business Services Total: 155,900
Change from March 2012: +700
Change from January 2013: +300

Education and Health Services Total: 140,000
Change from March 2012: +4,000
Change from January 2013: +500

Leisure and Hospitality Total: 90,100
Change from March 2012: +200
Change from January 2013: +1,600

Other Services Total: 35,900
Change from March 2012: +200
Change from January 2013: -300

Government Total: 162,000
Change from March 2012: +100
Change from January 2013: +1,500

March was another mediocre month for the Columbus area, and Ohio in general. All indications are, however, that April really began to turn around the downturn that began in December.