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

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




Summer of Rain 2015

This summer has been wet… very wet. Rain has fallen on far more days than not, and cloud cover has hung thick and heavy in what are historically much sunnier months. To top it all off, temperatures have been somewhat below normal.

How wet has summer 2015 been up through today? Meteorological summer runs June 1st-August 31st, and today makes the midpoint of that period, so I thought it would be a good time to check in and answer that question.

Here are the top 10 wettest summers through yesterday.

1. 1958: 12.54″
2. 2008: 11.68″
3. 1990: 10.93″
4. 2015: 10.66″
5. 1949: 10.40″
6. 1973: 10.23″
7. 1917: 10.06″
8. 1928: 10.02″
9. 1937: 9.75″
10. 1969: 9.38″

So 2015 is running the 4th wettest. It looks to be dry the next few days before more thunderstorms and rain return, so 2015’s position may end up rising.

What are the wettest full summers of all time? A few of the above years went on to be in the top 10, but not all.

1. 1958: 22.02″
2. 1979: 20.92″
3. 1995: 19.85″
4. 2003: 19.39″
5. 1969: 19.09″
6. 1915: 18.92″
7. 1992: 18.44″
8. 1973: 17.81″
9. 1989: 17.45″
10. 1949: 16.54″

Summer 2015 needs about 6″ more to reach into the top 10 wettest summers, which at the current pace is more than possible.

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″

July Precipitation Records 1878-2012

Top 20 Wettest Julys
1. 1992: 12.36
2. 1896: 9.47
3. 1958: 9.46
4. 1979: 8.06
5. 1990: 8.00
6. 1988: 7.80
7. 1969: 7.65
8. 1943: 7.05
9. 1995: 6.99
10. 1897: 6.95
11. 1985: 6.88
12. 1915: 6.85
13. 1989: 6.79
14. 2004: 6.46
15. 1947: 6.34
16. 1928: 6.27
17. 1907: 6.07
18. 1994: 6.03
19. 2010: 6.01
20. 1993: 5.94

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*For this and all other graphs, the 1870s include 1878-1879 only, while the 2010s include 2010-2012 only.

Top 20 Driest Julys
1. 1940: 0.49
2. 1916: 0.66
3. 1933: 0.85
4. 1951: 0.99
5. 1974: 1.14
6. 1901: 1.23
7. 1893: 1.27
8. 1930: 1.28
9. 1887, 1895: 1.45
10. 1914: 1.64
11. 2008: 1.65
12. 1894: 1.74
13. 2005: 1.79
14. 1890, 1936: 1.80
15. 1978: 1.81
16. 1944: 1.99
17. 1975: 2.04
18. 1903: 2.05
19. 1991: 1.14
20. 1884: 2.16

Top 20 Largest Daily Rainfalls
1. 7/13/1992: 5.13
2. 7/11/1897: 3.76
3. 7/15/1947: 3.39
4. 7/23/2002: 3.06
5. 7/24/1896: 3.01
6. 7/1/1993: 2.89
7. 7/20/1988: 2.85
8. 7/30/1886: 2.84
9. 7/6/1955: 2.67
10. 7/10/1979: 2.61
11. 7/27/1926: 2.49
12. 7/7/1943: 2.40
13. 7/17/1931: 2.39
14. 7/14/1985: 2.38
15. 7/31/2004: 2.36
16. 7/10/1880: 2.34
17. 7/1/1987: 2.32
18. 7/12/1990, 7/26/1995: 2.31
19. 7/24/1971: 2.28
20. 7/18/1953: 2.26

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Top 5 Julys with Most Days with Precipitation
1. 1888: 28
2. 1896: 22
3. 1915: 21
4. 1906, 1907, 1961, 1992: 19
5. 1898, 1912, 1928, 1935, 1942, 2003: 18

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Top 4 Julys with Most Days with 1″ or More Precipitation Days
1. 1969, 1979: 4
2. 1881, 1935, 1958, 1992: 3
3. Many: 2
4. Many: 1

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Top 3 Julys with Most 0.50″ or More Precipitation Days
1. 1919: 7
2. 1915, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2011: 6
3. Many: 5

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Top 5 Julys with Most 0.25″ or More Precipitation Days
1. 1896, 1915, 1992: 11
2. 1906, 1950: 10
3. 1907, 1961, 1988, 1989: 9
4. 1932, 1942, 1958, 1985, 1990, 2006: 8
5. 1899, 1919, 1920, 1948, 1956, 1979, 2011: 7

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