Ohio Had a Very Wet 2018

If your yard has been a swampy no man’s land all year, there’s a reason for it. 2018 was one of the wettest years ever across the state. In some cities, almost every month featured above normal precipitation. Let’s take a look across the state to see how places fared in this extraordinarily soggy period.

Here were the final 2018 totals in major Ohio cities and how they rank since their records began.

Cincinnati: 55.90″ 3rd wettest since 1871.
Columbus: 55.18″ 1st wettest since 1878.
Cleveland: 51.47″ 4th wettest since 1871.
Youngstown: 50.97″ 2nd wettest since 1896.
Dayton: 48.99″ 10th wettest since 1893.
Akron: 48.46″ 5th wettest since 1896.
Toledo: 38.01″ 22nd wettest since 1871.

In big cities in Ohio, only Toledo managed to avoid having a top 10 wettest year. Columbus had its wettest on record, beating the previous record of 54.96″ set just a few years ago in 2011.

Locally in the Columbus metro, here were some other totals.
Newark: 56.01″
Marysville: 51.12″
Lancaster: 50.51″
Circleville: 46.66″
OSU Campus: 46.66″

Biggest Individual Precipitation Day and Rank
Cincinnati: 5.02″ on 8/16/2018, 2nd highest since 1871.
Youngstown: 3.50″ on 9/9/2018, 11th highest since 1896.
Dayton: 2.88″ on 4/3/2018, 24th highest since 1893.
Akron: 2.50″ on 9/9/2018, unranked.
Cleveland: 2.12″ on 11/1/2018, unranked.
Columbus: 2.06″ on 4/15/2018, unranked.
Toledo: 1.62″ on 3/1/2018, unranked.

Cincinnati had 2 days in the top 10, but most other cities had just constant rain rather than exceptionally high individual totals.

Total 2018 Measurable Precipitation Days and Rank
Youngstown: 191 1st most since 1896.
Akron: 180 1st most since 1896.
Cleveland: 177 8th most since 1871.
Columbus: 162 6th most since 1878.
Cincinnati: 151 7th most since 1871.
Dayton: 148 10th most since 1893.
Toledo: 142 16th most since 1871.

3 cities saw more than half their days with measurable precipitation. Columbus came in at just under 50%. This also had the unfortunate result of making most of the year feel unusually gloomy. Traditionally sunny months in the summer and fall were much cloudier than normal.

Total 2018 1″+ Precipitation Days and Rank
Columbus: 15 1st most since 1878.
Cleveland: 13 2nd most since 1871.
Cincinnati: 12 7th most since 1871.
Dayton: 11 6th most since 1893.
Akron: 10 5th most since 1896.
Toledo: 7 7th most since 1871.
Youngstown: 5 9th most since 1896.

Columbus had the most 1″ days of any year on record, and even beat every other major Ohio city.

Wettest 2018 Months
Cincinnati: 8.21″ in August
Youngstown: 7.91″ in September
Akron: 7.26″ in September
Dayton: 6.72″ in September
Columbus: 6.71″ in June
Cleveland: 6.68″ in July
Toledo: 5.91″ in May

No cities saw any of their months be even close to the wettest ever. There were not really any events with heavy flooding, either, except in February in Cincinnati, when the Ohio River reached the highest since the 1997 flood. There was also some scattered flooding from some tropical system remnants that passed through, particularly in September, but for the most part, it was just constantly wet from beginning to end in most places.

Cincinnati flooding in February, 2018.

One might ask if 2018 was merely a blip or part of a long-term trend in the state. Climate scientists have actually looked at this, and the state has indeed been getting both warmer and wetter over the last century or so, but the pace of both the warming and the increase in precipitation has been much faster since the 1970s. Many of the Ohio’s wettest years on record have occurred since 1990.

Worst Winters of All Time?

Historically, winter in Central Ohio has been a mixed bag. Some years it seems that winter never really arrives, while others never seem to end. The 2010s have been a perfect example, with some years being some of the coldest and snowiest on record, while others were some of the warmest and least snowiest.
The last few winters haven’t been particularly harsh, but where do they rank historically? To find out, I came up with a ranking system for meteorological winter only- December 1st through February 28th. Here was the criteria:

Temperature: 1 point added for each occurrence-
– # of 32 or Below Highs
– # of 32 or Below Lows
– # of 0 or Below Highs
– # of 0 or Below Lows
And 1 point removed for each occurrence-
– # of 60 or Above Highs
– # of 50 or Above Lows

Precipitation: 1 point added for each occurrence-
– # of Days with Measurable Snowfall
– # of 1″+ Snow Days
– # of 2.5″+ Snow Days
– # of 5″+ Snow Days
– # of 10″+ Snow Days
– # of Measurable Precipitation Days overall

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 that. 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. 2016-2017: 107
6. 1881-1882, 1943-1944: 111
7. 2001-2002: 112
8. 1996-1997: 115
9. 1948-1949, 1953-1954: 118
10. 1941-1942, 1982-1983: 120
11. 1918-1919: 122
12. 1936-1937: 123
13. 1932-1933, 1991-1992: 124
14. 1930-1931, 2015-2016: 125
15. 1905-1906, 1972-1973: 126
16. 1949-1950: 128
17. 1897-1898, 1986-1987: 129
18. 2011-2012: 130
19. 1938-1939: 131
20. 1937-1938: 134
21. 1908-1909, 1920-1921, 2005-2006: 135
22. 1924-1925: 137
23. 1896-1897: 138
24. 1927-1928, 1929-1930, 1940-1941, 1990-1991: 139
25. 1952-1953: 140
26. 1921-1922, 1945-1946, 1998-1999: 141
27. 1988-1989: 143
28. 1891-1892: 144
29. 1946-1947, 1971-1972: 145
30. 1912-1913, 1934-1935: 147

Look how many of the warmest/least snowy occurred 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 2018-2019? Well, that remains to be seen. However, the developing weak El Nino, combined with other Pacific and global indices suggests that it will be both cold and snowy. It’s already getting off to an early start with November 2018 potentially ending up as a top 10 or 15 coldest on record. We’ll have to see if this continues into December and beyond, but such early cold is often associated with harsher winters, though there are certainly exceptions to that.

To see lots of other winter statistics, check out the All-Time Weather page.

Winter 2017-2018

The winter of 2017-2018 featured some wild swings, from a very cold late December-early January to one of the warmest Februarys of all time. Let’s take a closer look at this volatile season, specifically December to February.

December 2017
Average High: 38.6 36th Coldest
Average Low: 23.7 33rd Coldest
Mean: 31.2 37th Coldest
Coldest High: 17 on 12/27/17
Coldest Low: 2 on 12/31/17
Warmest High: 60 on 12/4/17
Warmest Low: 47 on 12/22/17
32 or Below Highs: 10 11th Highest
32 or Below Lows: 27 5th Highest
Total Precipitation: 1.76″ 28th Driest
Total Snowfall: 8.1″ 23rd Snowiest
Average Snow Depth: 0.3″ 4th Lowest
Largest Daily Precipitation: 0.72″ on 12/23/17 31st Largest
Largest Daily Snowfall: 2.1″ on 12/30/17 32nd Largest
Highest Snow Depth: 3″ on 12/30-12/31/17 4th Lowest
Precipitation Days: 20 8th Highest
Snowfall Days: 15 8th Highest

December Records
Record High Minimum: 47 on 12/22/17. Tied for #1 Warmest Low for December 22nd. Tied with 2015.

January 2018
Average High: 35.4 39th Coldest
Average Low: 19.3 39th Coldest
Mean: 27.3 39th Coldest
Coldest High: 10 on 1/2/18
Coldest Low: -4 on 1/2/18
Warmest High: 60 on 1/11 and 1/22/18
Warmest Low: 52 on 1/11/18
32 or Below Highs: 14 11th Highest
32 or Below Lows: 26 6th Highest
Total Precipitation: 2.39″ 56th Driest
Total Snowfall: 10.5″ 38th Snowiest
Average Snow Depth: 1.4″ 15th Lowest
Largest Daily Precipitation: 0.66″ on 1/12/18 35th Lowest
Largest Daily Snowfall: 3.5″ on 1/12/18 29th Highest
Highest Snow Depth: 5″ on 1/16-1/17/18 6th Lowest
Precipitation Days: 26 4th Highest
Snowfall Days: 19 6th Highest

January Records
Record Low Maximum: 10 on 1/2/2018. Coldest High for January 2nd, beating the old record of 11, set in 1928.

February 2018
Average High: 47.3 7th Warmest
Average Low: 30.3 10th Warmest
Mean: 38.8 7th Warmest
Coldest High: 22 on 2/2/18
Coldest Low: 10 on 2/5/18
Warmest High: 77 on 2/20/18
Warmest Low: 60 on 2/20/18
32 or Below Highs: 5 6th Lowest
32 or Below Lows: 17 5th Lowest
Total Precipitation: 5.25″ 7th Highest
Total Snowfall: 6.0″ 43rd Highest
Largest Daily Precipitation: 1.23″ on 2/24/18 20th Highest
Largest Daily Snowfall: 4.4″ on 2/7/18. 17th Highest
Highest Snow Depth: 4″ on 2/7/18. 5th Lowest
Precipitation Days: 20 7th Highest
Snowfall Days: 10 13th Highest

February Records
Record Daily Snowfall: 4.4″ on 2/7/2018. Most snowfall for February 7th, beating the old record of 3.6″ set in 1895.
Record High Minimum: 55 on 2/15/2018. Warmest Low for February 15th, beating the old record of 53 set in 1954.
Record High Maximum: 77 on 2/20/2018. Warmest High for February 20th, beating the old record of 68 set in 1891 and 2016.
Record High Minimum: 60 on 2/20/2018. Warmest Low for February 20th, beating the old record of 49 set in 1930.

Winter (DJF only) 2017-2018
Average High: 40.4 28th Warmest
Average Low: 24.4 38th Warmest
Mean: 32.4 33rd Warmest
32 or Below Highs: 29 21st Highest
32 or Below Lows: 70 18th Lowest
Precipitation: 9.40″ 31st Wettest
Snowfall: 24.6″ 36th Snowiest
Average Snow Depth: 0.7″ 17th Highest (since 1948)

So overall, the winter was definitely warmer than normal, but not record-breaking, even with the extremely warm February. It was also wetter and snowier than normal as well.

Near white-out conditions on the evening of January 12th, 2018

Summer 2016

Now that Summer 2016 is but a memory, let’s take a quick look back at where it stands in the record books.


Summer 2016 Means
June-August Mean High: 85.5
June-August Mean Rank since 1878: 26th Warmest
While the average high for Summer 2016 was certainly warm, it fell just outside of the top 25. By comparison to recent years, 2010 (85.6), 2011 (85.7) and 2012 (87.7) all had warmer average highs.

June-August Mean Low: 66.1
June-August Mean Low Rank since 1878: 4th Warmest
The average low for the summer is what made 2016 much more exceptional. No recent years (last decade) were warmer, although 2010 did tie.

June-August Mean: 75.8
June-August Mean Rank since 1878: 10th
So if you thought this summer was hot, well you were right. Only 2010 (75.9) and 2012 (76.4) were warmer of any recent years.

Monthly Means
June Mean: 73.2
June Mean Rank since 1878: 17th Warmest
July Mean: 76.6
July Mean Rank since 1878: 20th Warmest
August Mean: 77.6
August Mean Rank since 1878: 6th Warmest
The summer gradually became hotter as it went on.

Summer 2016 Misc. Temperature Stats
# of 90+ Days: 18
90+ Days Rank: 22nd
Warmest High: 95
Warmest Low: 77
Coldest High: 72
Coldest Low: 48

Daily Temperature Records
June 11th: Record Warm Maximum Tie: 95: Tied with 1914 and 1933.
August 10th: Record Warm Minimum Tie: 75: Tied with 2001.
August 11th: Record Warm Minimum Tie: 76: Tied with 1918.
August 12th: Record Warm Minimum: 76: Beat record from 1947.
August 13th: Record Warm Minimum Tie: 75: Tied with 1995.


June-July Precipitation Total: 13.53″
June-July Precipitation Rank since 1878: 29th Wettest
Besides being warm, Summer 2016 was also fairly wet.

Monthly Precipitation Stats
June Precipitation: 5.22″
June Precipitation Rank since 1878: 29th
July Precipitation: 2.49″
July Precipitation Rank since 1878: 27th Driest
August Precipitation: 5.82″
August Precipitation Rank since 1878: 13th Wettest
So the summer was bookended by wet months with July being fairly dry.

Summer 2016 Misc. Precipitation Stats
Total Precipitation Days (including Trace): 45
Total Measurable Precipitation Days: 30
Measurable Precipitation Days Rank since 1878: 16th Highest
Days with 0.25″ or Higher: 16
Days with 0.50″ or Higher: 10
Days with 1.00″ or Higher: 4

Daily Precipitation Records
June 23rd: 2.75″: Beat the old record in 1901.

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

Here are some videos during the storm.
Dayton Area
Cleveland Area

For more March weather records, check here: March Weather
And for more all-time weather records: All-Time Weather