Columbus’ Christmas Day Climatology




*Find more December records in the December Weather page.

Normals 1981-2010
High: 38
Low: 25
Mean: 31.5
Precipitation: 0.10″
Snowfall: 0.2″

1878-2017 Averages
High: 36
Low: 24
Mean: 30
Precipitation: 0.11″
Snowfall: 0.1″

Top 10 Coldest Highs
1. 1983: 1
2. 1878: 10
3. 1924: 11
4. 1980: 15
5. 1902: 16
6. 1985: 17
7. 1884, 2000: 19
8. 1899, 1906, 1914:20
9. 1950, 1968: 22
10. 1935, 1969, 2001: 23

Top 10 Coldest Lows
1. 1983: -12
2. 1980: -5
3. 1935: -4
4. 1924: -3
5. 1878: -2
6. 2004: -1
7. 1985: 1
8. 2000: 2
9. 1884: 4
10. 1914, 1999: 7

Top 10 Warmest Highs
1. 1893: 64
2. 1982: 63
3. 1932, 1940: 62
4. 1889: 60
5. 1964: 58
6. 1895, 1955: 57
7. 1891: 55
8. 1936, 2015: 53
9. 1888, 1915, 1987: 52
10. 1965, 1973: 51

Top 10 Warmest Lows
1. 1889, 1982: 55
2. 1895: 52
3. 1893: 49
4. 1891: 45
5. 2015: 43
6. 1932, 1940: 40
7. 1888, 1964, 1973: 39
8. 1987: 38
9. 1922, 1941, 2009, 2016: 37
10. 1936, 1972: 36

Number of Days with the High Temperature
Less than 10: 1
10-19: 7
20-29: 25
30-39: 54
40-49: 36
50-59: 12
60 or Higher: 5

Number of Days with the Low Temperature
Less than 0: 6
0-9: 7
10-19: 36
20-29: 46
30-39: 37
40-49: 5
50 or Higher: 3

Top 10 Wettest
1. 2009: 0.79″
2. 1944: 0.77″
3. 1926: 0.69″
4. 1951: 0.58″
5. 2006: 0.57″
6. 1945: 0.54″
7. 1957: 0.52″
8. 1987, 2005: 0.51″
9. 1915: 0.48″
10. 1909: 0.47″

Number of Days with Precipitation
0.00″: 44
Trace: 27
0.01″-0.24″: 54
0.25″-0.49″: 6
0.50″-0.74″: 7
0.75″-0.99″: 2
1.00″ or More: 0

Top 10 Snowiest
1. 1890: 7.0″
2. 1909: 5.7″
3. 1950: 3.0″
4. 1917: 2.5″
5. 1969: 2.3″
6. 1884: 2.2″
7. 1976: 1.9″
8. 1880: 1.8″
9. 1935: 1.3″
10. 1944: 1.2″

Top 5 with the Most Snow on the Ground (Since 1947)
1. 1960: 9″
2. 1961, 1963, 1989, 1995: 4″
3. 1969, 1980, 2004: 3″
4. 1950, 2000: 2″
5. 1951, 1956, 1962, 1990, 1992, 1993, 2010, 2017: 1″

Number of Days with Snowfall
0.0″: 73
Trace: 23
0.1″-0.4″: 19
0.5″-0.9″: 9
1″-2.9″: 7
3″ or More: 3

For more general Columbus weather records, go here: Columbus All-Time Weather




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

Cool Link of the Day: NWS Wilmington’s Winter Weather Page

Given today’s 4-6″ of snow and ice, I thought it’d be good to give this link: NWS ILN Winter

This link provides information on radar, snow chances, current conditions, etc.

Also, check out the historic weather records for February here: February Weather

This link gives data on February weather from 1879 through 2017, and includes records on snowfall, cold, heat, rainfall, etc., along with charts giving historic averages by decade.

The Great Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1950




Springfield, Ohio after the snowstorm.

Exactly 67 years ago today, the Great Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1950 began. It was the biggest snowstorm for Columbus, and indeed most of Ohio, during the 40-year period of 1920-1960. That period, especially from the mid-1920s through the mid-1950s, had the lowest rates of cold and snowy winters of any comparable period. The average seasonal snowfall during that period was just 19.1″, a full 9″ below the average the 1980s-2010s have had to date. Still, the period was not without its memorable winters, including 1935-36, 1939-40 and 1947-48. None of those winters, however, had a snow event nearly as big as November 1950.

October 1950 had generally been very warm, ranking historically as the 19th warmest October in Columbus. Highs reached 65 or higher on 21 days of the month. This warmth lasted through early November, and the 80 degrees recorded on November 1st, 1950 remains tied for the warmest November temperature ever recorded. After that, the month seesawed up and down until a strong cold front and rainstorm on the 19th-20th dropped temperatures 25-30 degrees across the state, from the upper 50s-low 60s on the 20th to the low-mid 30s on the 21st. This front would be one of the catalysts for one of Ohio’s greatest winter weather events in its history.

Snow began in Columbus and other parts of Ohio on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 23rd as a low moved through the Great Lakes and weakened. Behind that system, another cold high pressure was diving south out of Canada.

Thursday, November 23rd 1950 National Map
*Requires a DejaVu plug-in to view.

On Friday the 24th, a low formed on the stalled cold front that had moved through Ohio a few days earlier. Initially forming in southeastern North Carolina, this low would’ve normally gone out to see or moved up the East Coast as a Nor’easter. Instead, the strong, cold high pressure was moving into the Ohio Valley at the same time, and the little low exploded and as it began to move north. The strong push of cold was very evident in Ohio, as temperatures plunged from the upper-30s to upper 40s on Thanksgiving afternoon to single digits and low teens by early Friday morning.

Friday, November 24th, 1950 National Map

The low moved into southern Pennsylvania by the morning of the 25th, and then began to do something few other storms ever do- it began to retrograde toward the west and Ohio, continuing to strengthen as it went. The unusual west movement was caused by a blocking high pressure system parked over Maine.

Saturday, November 25th, 1950 National Map

Light snow that had been ongoing in Ohio on the 24th quickly intensified from east to west across the state as the low moved westward from Central Pennsylvania to Northern Ohio by the end of the day on the 25th. With it arrived winds of 40-60 miles per hour, causing blinding white-outs and drifting.
Saturday the 25th was the height of the storm as the low pressure bottomed out at 978mb, a pressure normally associated with hurricanes. This day was, coincidentally, the famed Ohio State-Michigan rivalry football game, now famously known as the “Snow Bowl” for its terrible weather conditions.

With temperatures on Saturday morning in the single digits, wind chills well below zero and with heavy snow, there was debate about cancelling the game altogether, which was the Big Ten Championship. Ironically, despite the fact that Ohio State would’ve gone on to the Rose Bowl had the game been cancelled (Michigan did not want to reschedule), it was Ohio State’s athletic director who ultimately refused to cancel the game, much to the rest of the staff’s disappointment. Perhaps after the fact, considering Ohio State lost 9-3, that decision was regretted, especially in front of the more than 50,000 die-hard fans that managed to show up for the game.


Columbus would receive 7.5″ at the airport, with eastern suburbs getting up to 10″, just on that Saturday alone.

Due to the blocking high pressure, the storm didn’t budge for days, and it continued through the 26th and 27th before slowly dying out. The last accumulating snowflakes from this system fell on the 29th, 6 days after the snow began.

Sunday, November 26th, 1950 National Map
Monday, November 27th, 1950 National Map
Tuesday, November 28th, 1950 National Map
Wednesday, November 29th, 1950 National Map

All in all, the storm was a record-breaker. Snow totals reached 10″ or more across most of the state except the far northwest and far southwest. In Central Ohio, snow had piled up between 10″-20″, with Columbus officially reporting 15.2″ for the duration of the event. This was the second-heaviest snowstorm in Columbus on record to that time, falling just shy of the 15.3″ that occurred February 17-18, 1910. Both of these storms would be surpassed by the February 14-17, 2003 snowstorm of 15.5″, which itself was surpassed by March 7-8th, 2008’s 20.5″.

Other totals in the state included up to 22″ in Cleveland, 27″ in Marietta, and reports of 44″ in Steubenville in far eastern Ohio. Totals of 25″-30″ were common throughout the eastern 1/3rd of the state. These totals are some of the highest the state has ever seen, coming close to those seen in the eastern Ohio snowstorm of April 1901.

In addition to the snow, record cold temperatures in Columbus of 5 degrees on the 25th (along with a record low maximum of 20) made this one of the greatest early winter events of all time.


Cleveland after the storm.

For more November weather records, go here: November Weather
For more general Columbus weather records, go here: Columbus All-Time Weather