Fall Weather Correlation to Winter Severity?

As we go into the winter season, it’s time to talk about how this one might end up. There’s a belief that fall weather is a good sign of how cold or warm winter will be. How true is that for Columbus? Also, what might any correlation mean for the winter of 2017-2018?

First, let’s just look at October temperatures.
The October normal mean temperature for Columbus is 55 degrees.

Between 1878 and 2016, there have been 47 Octobers that featured a mean temperature of 53.9 degrees or lower, what we’re considering a Cold October for the purposes of this comparison.
Of those 47 Octobers, 27 of the 47 had following winters that were colder than normal, or 57.4%, 13 had average temperature winters, or 27.7%, and the remaining 7 were warmer than normal, or 14.9%.
Interestingly, this category contains both the warmest winter on record- 1889-1890 and the coldest on record- 1976-1977- as shown by the chart below.

Next, we look at Normal Octobers, which are +/- 1 degree of the 1981-2010 Average of 55 degrees.
Between 1878 and 2016, there were 45 normal Octobers. Of those, 21 had colder than normal following winters, or 46.7%. 11 were followed by normal winters, or 24.4%, and 13 had warmer than normal winters, or 28.9%.

Finally, let’s look at warm Octobers, which are those with means of 56.1 degrees or higher. There were 46 Octobers with warmer than normal means since 1878. Of those, 18 featured following winters that were colder than normal, or 39.1%. Another 18, or 39.1%, were followed by average winters. The final 10 winters were warmer than normal. Here’s the graph.

So just based on the October mean temperature, Octobers that are colder than normal have a 47% higher chance of having a colder than normal winter than warmer than normal Octobers do. But is October a better indicator than November, a month that is closer to actual winter?

Colder than normal Novembers- 43.3 degrees or lower- included 78 Novembers since 1878. Of those, 38 or 48.7% had colder than normal winters. 21 (26.9%) had normal winters and 19 (24.4) had warmer than normal winters.

With the 38 normal Novembers, 43.4 to 45.4 degrees, there were 18 that had colder than normal winters, or 47.4%, with 11 normal winters (28.9%) and 9 warmer than normal winters (23.7%).

Finally, there were 24 warmer than normal Novembers since 1878- 45.5 degrees or higher. Only 6, or 25%, were followed by cold winters. An additional 9 (37.5%) were normal, while the last 9 (37.5%) were warmer than normal.

To reiterate, here are the ranked percentages of cold winters by the preceding October or November.
1. Cold Octobers: 57.4%
2. Cold Novembers: 48.7%
3. Normal Novembers: 47.4%
4. Normal Octobers: 46.7%
5. Warm Octobers: 39.1%
6. Warm Novembers: 25.0%

It should be no surprise that cold Octobers and Novembers have a stronger correlation to the following winters also being colder, with colder winters becoming increasingly unlikely as those months warm. Cold Octobers have a higher correlation than Cold Novembers, as well as Warm Octobers, but Normal Novembers have a slight advantage over Normal Octobers. Based on this, October actually has a stronger correlation to the following winter’s temperature mean than does November.

Going further, though, what about bi-monthly combinations?

Rank of Bi-Monthly Combinations and the percentage of colder than normal following winters, along with total years in sample:
Normal October/Normal November: 87.5% 8 Years
Cold October/Warm November: 57.1% 7 Years
Cold October/Cold November: 53.8% 26 Years
Normal October/Cold November: 48.1% 27 Years
Warm October/Cold November: 44.0% 25 Years
Cold October/Normal November: 38.5% 13 Years
Warm October/Warm November: 28.6% 7 Years
Warm October/Normal November: 26.7% 15 Years
Normal October/Warm November: 0.0% 8 Years

So a normal fall is clearly the best, but the sample size is not particularly high. Normal to Warm is unanimously warm, but again, it has a small sample size.

October 2017 has been overwhelmingly warm. While this wouldn’t normally bode well for a cold winter, each year is influenced by a multitude of factors.

Historic Record of Early Season Cold

With temperatures predicted to fall to near freezing for the first time this week for the fall season, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the incidence of early-season cold, and the average on when it tends to arrive.

Here are the earliest dates on record for the following:

Temperatures Below 40 and Temperature Range of Observed Dates
1. 8/29/1965: 39
2. 9/8/1951: 39
3. 9/9/1883: 39
4. 9/13/1964: 38
5. 9/14/1902, 9/14/1923, 9/14/1953, 19/14/1975: 38-39
6. 9/17/1959: 37
7. 9/20/1896, 9/20/1956, 9/20/1962: 37-39
8. 9/21/1889, 9/21/1897, 9/21/1991: 37-38
9. 9/22/1918, 9/22/1974, 9/22/1976, 9/22/1995: 37-38
10. 9/23/1885, 9/23/1913, 9/23/1963, 9/23/1967, 9/23/1981, 9/23/1989: 35-39

Average Date of First Under-40 Temp By Decade (1878-2014)
2010s: October 11th
2000s: October 8th
1990s: October 2nd
1980s: September 30th
1970s: October 1st
1960s: September 25th
1950s: September 25th
1940s: September 30th
1930s: October 11th
1920s: October 2nd
1910s: October 9th
1900s: October 5th
1890s: October 1st
1880s: October 2nd
1870s: October 1st

Highs Below 32
1. 10/30/1917: 32
2. 11/3/1951, 11/3/1966: 28-29
3. 11/4/1991: 27
4. 11/6/1967: 31
5. 11/7/1971: 31
6. 11/8/1976: 32
7. 11/10/1913: 27
8. 11/12/1920, 11/12/1921, 11/12/1932: 30-32
9. 11/13/1911, 11/13/1919, 11/13/1986, 11/13/1996: 25-32
10. 11/15/1880, 11/15/1893, 11/15/1916, 11/15/1933, 11/15/1940, 11/15/1969: 24-32

Average Date of First 32 or Below High By Decade
2010s: December 4th
2000s: December 2nd
1990s: December 7th
1980s: November 28th
1970s: November 29th
1960s: November 23rd
1950s: November 26th
1940s: December 2nd
1930s: November 27th
1920s: November 28th
1910s: November 22nd
1900s: November 30th
1890s: November 25th
1880s: November 30th
1870s: December 4th

Lows Below 32
1. 9/21/1962: 31
2. 9/29/1961: 32
3. 9/30/1888, 9/30/163: 31-32
4. 10/1/1899: 30
5. 10/2/1886, 10/2/1908, 10/2/1974: 31-32
6. 10/3/1975, 10/3/1981, 10/3/2003: 32
7. 10/4/1952, 10/4/1987: 29-32
8. 10/5/1965, 10/5/1968: 31-32
9. 10/6/1892, 10/6/1964, 10/6/1980, 10/6/1988: 30-31
10. 10/7/1889, 10/7/1935: 30-31

Average Date of First 32 or Below Low By Decade
2010s: October 24th
2000s: October 26th
1990s: October 22nd
1980s: October 17th
1970s: October 17th
1960s: October 8th
1950s: October 22nd
1940s: November 3rd
1930s: October 24th
1920s: October 28th
1910s: October 31st
1900s: October 24th
1890s: October 20th
1880s: October 20th
1870s: October 26th

October and November 2013 Jobs Data

Unfortunately, I have neglected to update the jobs data in recent months. Part of it came from the government shutdown, which didn’t allow for the data to be updated for awhile, and I forgot to check back.

October 2013

Columbus City
Unemployment Rate: 6.2%
Unemployment Rate Change since October 2012: +0.6%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.6%
Civilian Labor Force: 430,800
Civilian Labor Force Change since October 2012: +1,300
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +4,400
Employment: 404,000
Employment Change since October 2012: -1,600
Employment Change since January 2013: +6,700
Unemployment: 26,800
Unemployment Change since October 2012: +2,900
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -2,300

Franklin County
Unemployment Rate: 6.2%
Unemployment Rate Change since October 2012: +0.6%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.6%
Civilian Labor Force: 630,000
Civilian Labor Force Change since October 2012: +1,700
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +6,300
Employment: 590,900
Employment Change since October 2012: -2,400
Employment Change since January 2013: +9,900
Unemployment: 39,200
Unemployment Change since October 2012: +4,200
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -3,400

Columbus Metro Area
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since October 2012: +0.6%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.9%
Civilian Labor Force: 975,506
Civilian Labor Force Change since October 2012: +2,253
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +7,601
Employment: 915,686
Employment Change since October 2012: -3,699
Employment Change since January 2013: +15,230
Unemployment: 59,820
Unemployment Change since October 2012: +5,952
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -7,629

Ohio Overall
Unemployment Rate: 7.5%
Unemployment Rate Change since October 2012: +0.6%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013 : +0.5%
Civilian Labor Force: 5,727,346
Civilian Labor Force Change since October 2012: -2,337
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: -12,946
Employment: 5,300,458
Employment Change since October 2012: -33,230
Employment Change since January 2013: -40,394
Unemployment: 426,888
Unemployment Change since October 2012: +30,893
Unemployment Change since January 2013: +27,448

Metro Non-Farm Jobs
Total: 969,600
Change from October 2012: +9,600
Change from January 2013: +26,000

By Industry
Mining/Logging/Construction Total: 31,800
Change from October 2012: +1,200
Change from January 2013: +4,900

Manufacturing Total: 66,200
Change from October 2012: +700
Change from January 2013: +1,200

Trade/Transportation/Utilities Total: 184,500
Change from October 2012: +1,800
Change from January 2013: +1,300

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

Financial Activities Total: 72,400
Change from October 2012: +1,000
Change from January 2013: +700

Professional and Business Services Total: 161,800
Change from October 2012: +700
Change from January 2013: +6,200

Education and Health Services Total: 141,500
Change from October 2012: +3,500
Change from January 2013: +2,000

Leisure and Hospitality Total: 98,300
Change from October 2012: +3,400
Change from January 2013: +9,800

Other Services Total: 35,800
Change from October 2012: -1,500
Change from January 2013: -400

Government Total: 161,200
Change from October 2012: -900
Change from January 2013: +700

November 2013

Columbus City
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since November 2012: +0.7%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.7%
Civilian Labor Force: 433,700
Civilian Labor Force Change since November 2012: +4,500
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +7,300
Employment: 407,100
Employment Change since November 2012: +1,000
Employment Change since January 2013: +9,800
Unemployment: 26,600
Unemployment Change since November 2012: +3,500
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -2,500

Franklin County
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since November 2012: +0.7%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.7%
Civilian Labor Force: 634,400
Civilian Labor Force Change since November 2012: +6,800
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +10,700
Employment: 595,400
Employment Change since November 2012: +1,400
Employment Change since January 2013: +14,400
Unemployment: 39,000
Unemployment Change since November 2012: +5,400
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -3,600

Columbus Metro Area
Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
Unemployment Rate Change since November 2012: +0.8%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013: -0.9%
Civilian Labor Force: 981,927
Civilian Labor Force Change since November 2012: +9,454
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: +14,022
Employment: 921,937
Employment Change since November 2012: +1,470
Employment Change since January 2013: +21,481
Unemployment: 59,990
Unemployment Change since November 2012: +7,984
Unemployment Change since January 2013: -7,459

Ohio Overall
Unemployment Rate: 7.4%
Unemployment Rate Change since November 2012: +0.6%
Unemployment Rate Change since January 2013 : +0.4%
Civilian Labor Force: 5,734,909
Civilian Labor Force Change since November 2012: +6,424
Civilian Labor Force Change since January 2013: -5,383
Employment: 5,307,912
Employment Change since November 2012: -30,979
Employment Change since January 2013: -32,940
Unemployment: 426,997
Unemployment Change since November 2012: +37,403
Unemployment Change since January 2013: +27,557

Metro Non-Farm Jobs
Total: 975,000
Change from November 2012: +9,000
Change from January 2013: +31,400

By Industry
Mining/Logging/Construction Total: 32,300
Change from November 2012: +1,900
Change from January 2013: +5,400

Manufacturing Total: 66,000
Change from November 2012: +300
Change from January 2013: +1,000

Trade/Transportation/Utilities Total: 189,200
Change from November 2012: -700
Change from January 2013: +6,000

Information Total: 16,200
Change from November 2012: -300
Change from January 2013: -300

Financial Activities Total: 72,100
Change from November 2012: -500
Change from January 2013: +400

Professional and Business Services Total: 161,800
Change from October 2012: +700
Change from January 2013: +6,200

Education and Health Services Total: 143,700
Change from November 2012: +4,700
Change from January 2013: +4,200

Leisure and Hospitality Total: 95,600
Change from November 2012: +2,700
Change from January 2013: +7,100

Other Services Total: 35,800
Change from November 2012: -800
Change from January 2013: -400

Government Total: 162,600
Change from November 2012: -900
Change from January 2013: +2,100

October 30-31, 1993- Halloween Snowstorm

One of the greatest early-season snow events in Ohio occurred on October 30th and 31st, 1993. A low pressure center moved through the Ohio Valley on the 30th and was followed closely by an upper air disturbance on Halloween. Temperatures were well below normal on both days across the state, generally ranging from the low to mid 30s. A wet, occasionally heavy snow began to fall early on the 30th and continued through the 31st. Because of the marginal temperatures, much of the snow melted as it fell, but still accumulated several inches in many areas, with southern and southwestern parts of the state receiving the most, being closer to the low center. While October flurries and light snows are not uncommon in Ohio, this proved to be an exceptional event for so early in the season. For many, this was the first and only White Halloween on record.

The Columbus Dispatch story from October 31st:

OCTSNOWBER – EARLY DOSE OF WINTER GIVES AREA GHOSTLY WHITE TOUCH

Columbus Dispatch, The (OH) – October 31, 1993
Author/Byline: Matthew Marx, Dispatch Staff Reporter

The likelihood that central Ohio would see snow in October wasn’t exactly great.
But then again, what were the odds John Cooper’s Ohio State Buckeyes would remain undefeated after eight games?
A steady mixture of snow and showers combined with temperatures about 20 degrees colder than normal to give the region a taste of December weather to go along with early symptoms of Rose Bowl fever yesterday.
And many of the 94,000 who braved the elements to see the third-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 12 Penn State 24-6 at Ohio Stadium probably are battling colds and flu today.
Even “fair-weather” fans showed up for the game, considered the toughest ticket on this season’s home schedule. Scalpers outside the stadium were asking $30-$150 per seat even 20 minutes before kickoff.
Relatively few spectators left midway through the second quarter, after Ohio State led 17-6. Among them was Northwest Side resident Lou Walliott and his 7-year-old daughter Maura, who decided to go home, build a fire and watch the rest of the football game on television.
Stadium usher Linda Studier said she was surprised so many fans turned out at all. But she was more astonished by the sight of morning flurries.
“When I had heard it was going to snow today, I said ‘Yeah. Sure.’ How often do they predict snow and it never comes? This isn’t Christmas,” Studier said.
The first snow normally isn’t expected for another three weeks, said Stan Czyzyk, Accu-Weather meteorologist. Yesterday’s high of 37 degrees occurred just after midnight. The normal high and low this time of year is 59 and 39 degrees, he said.
Around the city, traffic slowed at times but few problems were reported.
Columbus street maintenance crews were waiting to see if an overnight drop in temperature would mean an early appearance by salt trucks.
More snow and showers are expected today, clearing partially but bringing colder temperatures at night. The high will be 38 degrees; The low will be 28.

The weather maps for October 25th-31st, 1993. Requires a Dejavu plugin to view.
ftp://ftp.library.noaa.gov/docs.lib/htdocs/rescue/dwm/1993/19931025-19931031.djvu

Some snowfall totals from around the state…

Akron: 6.6″
Cincinnati: 6.2″
Columbus: 4.6″
Dayton: 4.1″
Toledo: 0.8″
Cleveland: 0.2″

November 1993 had only 0.8″ at Columbus, as the rest of all into early winter was generally milder than normal. Winter didn’t fully set in until after mid-December, and of course, January 1994 is pretty legendary, particularly for its cold outbreak.