The Week in Review #2

So last week, the FBI finally released the full crime numbers for 2017 for all cities. How did Columbus fare? Well, it was a decidedly mixed bag. Total murders were their highest ever, at 143, but the rate fell quite short of the record set back in 1991. So far for 2018, murder is behind 2017’s rate by about 22%, so it’s a good improvement, but still not even close to where it should be.

Other violent crime figures 2016 to 2017
-Rape continued its multi-year rise in the city, reaching 919 incidents. This was a 6% increase over 2016.
-Assaults were up 4% over 2016, but in the context of still being one of the lowest totals in the past 30 years.
-Robberies were down almost 8.5% over 2016.
-Despite the rises in most types of violent crime, the drop in robberies meant overall violent crime dropped by about 0.5%.
Property crime figures 2016 to 2017
-Burglaries were down more than 8%.
-Larceny thefts were down about 2.9%
-Motor vehicle thefts were up 17.6%, so not a good trend, but still less than half the rate it was 15-20 years ago.
-Overall property crime was down about 2% versus 2016.

And if you think this year’s been particularly wet, you are right! Through October 1st, Columbus is having its 3rd wettest year on record. Only 1882 and 1890 are ahead of 2018 at this point, and by barely 1″. 2018 at this point is running almost 14″ above normal.
Top 10 Wettest Years Through October 1st
1. 1882: 44.55″
2. 1890: 43.56″
3. 2018: 43.31″
4. 1979: 42.17″
5. 2003: 41.58″
6. 2011: 41.12″
7. 1990: 39.10″
8. 1949: 38.54″
9. 2004: 38.46″
10. 1996: 37.46″
It is surprising how many recent years are on this list. Still with 3 months to go, the pattern could break, but it’s very unlikely that 2018 doesn’t end up in the top 10. Here are the top 10 wettest full years.
1. 2011: 54.96″
2. 1990: 53.16″
3. 1882: 51.30″
4. 1890: 50.73″
5. 2004: 49.27″
6. 1979: 49.17″
7. 2003: 49.03″
8. 1883: 48.88″
9. 1881: 46.99″
10. 2017: 46.61″

Guess it could always be worse.

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

January 18-19, 1994- Greatest Arctic Outbreak

The fall of 1993 had been largely uneventful and a bit warm after the Halloween Snowstorm. November had been quiet and the first 20 days of December averaged almost 6 degrees above normal with just a trace of snowfall. Temperatures gradually cooled through the 3rd week of the month and then went below normal by the 23rd with highs generally from the upper teens to mid-20s. Along with the colder pattern came persistent snowshowers that lasted the rest of the month, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. January was about to change that.

Two snowstorms struck the state in January, the first on January 3-4 and the second, larger event on the 16th and 17th. It was this storm that pulled in a vast reservoir of arctic air into the Ohio region. A very cold high pressure area had been parked just north of the US-Canada border beginning on the 14th, bringing highs in the single digits on the 15th and lows below zero from the 14th on.

Columbus Dispatch, The (OH) – January 14, 1994

Columbus will begin to slide into the deep freeze today with temperatures plunging below zero tonight and Saturday night. The wind chill will average 30 below zero during the cold spell.
The weather will be the coldest of this winter thus far – and the first time Columbus temperatures have fallen below zero since last Feb. 18 when it dipped to minus 2.
The cold spell won’t linger.

“We will start to notice a rebound in temperature, maybe not on Sunday but certainly on Monday,” said Ken Reeves, senior meteorologist for Accu-Weather.

The Accu-Weather forecast calls for temperatures in the midteens at 7 a.m. today and falling to the single digits by day’s end. The overnight low will be minus 5. Saturday’s daytime high will be about 4.
Saturday night the temperature will fall to minus 8, recovering to 15 above Sunday. The low Sunday night will be 11 above. Temperatures should be in the 20s by Monday.
The cause of the cold is a shift in the jetstream, which normally brings air from southern Canada. The shift will bring colder arctic air from northern Canada, which will plunge the Northern Plains, the Midwest and the Northeast into very cold weather. Minnesota and the eastern sections of North Dakota and South Dakota will have temperatures of 20 to 30 below zero Saturday.
Residents will need to dress warmly under the sudden surge of cold air here. Those with poor circulation, particularly the elderly, should be especially careful.
Layers of clothing provide the best protection because layers trap air, which serves as insulation.

“The more layers, the better,” said Reeves.

He said mittens are preferable to gloves, which isolate the fingers. Care should be taken not to cramp the toes by wearing two thick pairs of socks. Cramping can restrict circulation, which is needed to warm extremities.

“If you wear two pairs, don’t wear two thick pairs,” said Reeves. “The key is, you don’t want to slow the circulation. The blood supply is what keeps your hands and feet warm.”

Noses should be covered, and parents should make sure their children are properly dressed, he said.
Faucets should be left dripping in poorly insulated houses and homes where pipes are subject to cold-weather freezing.
Typically, extreme cold weather sends more people into shelters for the homeless. “It brings in the people who would normally try and rough it, the people who don’t like the shelter,” said Charles Oris, director of men’s services for Faith Mission.
Oris expected no problems providing shelter during the weekend for more homeless people. The mission can provide extra sleeping areas and has an overflow facility at the downtown YMCA at Long and Front streets.

As you can see, there was no mention of the snowstorm that would begin just a few days later. The following day, Saturday, January 15, 1994, the paper did mention the upcoming snowfall, but only 2-4″ were forecast. Even as the snow began on Sunday the 16th, the forecast remained 2-4″. Instead, by the end of the day on the 17th, 7.8″ had fallen at Port Columbus. Almost all the state had at least 6″, but 20″-30″ fell to the south and east of Columbus. During the height of the storm, Chillicothe reported a snowfall rate exceeding 5″ per hour! As this storm moved away, it pulled cold air directly south, which failed to warm over the fresh snowpack.

Temperatures in Columbus fell to 0 by midnight on the 17th and continued to drop throughout the next day. The NOON temperature on the 18th was -9 degrees, -13 by 7pm and -17 by midnight. The peak of the cold was reached at 6am on Tuesday, January 19th when the temperature at Port Columbus dropped to 22 degrees below zero. This temperature was the lowest official temperature ever recorded in the city, beating out the 3 times that the city recorded -20 (1879, 1884, 1899).

Across the state, temperatures were 20-35 degrees below zero, and these extremely low readings were more widespread than in any other previous arctic outbreak on record, securing its place in history as the worst arctic outbreak of all time for Ohio.

Coldest Readings January 18-19, 1994
Logan: -37
New Lexington: -35
Eaton: -33
Akron: -25
Dayton: -25
Cincinnati: -24
Columbus: -22
Youngstown: -22
Cleveland: -20

Watch the Evolution of this Arctic Outbreak Here (A DejaVu plugin is required):
January 10-16, 1994
January 17-23, 1994

For more January weather records, go here: January Weather
And for more of the most extreme weather, go here: All-Time Weather

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:


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.

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.

January 2-4, 1879- Columbus’ 2nd Coldest Temperature

After a generally cold December, January 1879 started out with a severe arctic outbreak across the state, leading to Columbus’ 2nd coldest temperature ever recorded (officially). The outbreak began on January 2nd, when a strong cold front moved in from the northwest in the early afternoon hours. The temperature fell rapidly during the evening, reaching a low of -13 on the 2nd for a total drop that day of 42 degrees. The core of the cold air moved across Ohio during the day of the 3rd, so temperatures warmed very little. Highs across the state were in the single digits south to below zero across the norther 2/3rds. Columbus had a rare below zero high of -4, which is the 2nd coldest January high on record and the 3rd coldest high of any month. The low on the 3rd was a frigid -20. This low stood as the coldest temperature in Columbus for 115 years, only being surpassed during the great arctic outbreak of January 1994, during which the temperature fell to -22.

The strong front was very moisture starved, and only a few tenths to an inch to an inch of snow fell with its passage.

Temperatures remained in the single digits for two more days before a gradual warming commenced. By the 8th temperatures went above freezing. The rest of January 1879 was fairly tame. 16 days after the 8th had highs of 35 or greater.

Of note is that the temperature of -20 occured two more times before the end of the 19th century, in January 1884 and February 1899.

For more January weather records, go here: January Weather
And for more of the most extreme weather, go here: All-Time Weather