February 2010 Snowstorms x4 Part #2




February 2010’s second snowstorm came just 3 days after the major event on the 5th-6th. This second low pressure system tracked from Louisville, Kentucky and then up along I-71 to Cleveland. Even though the track was through the heart of the state, the majority of the precipitation in most areas was snowfall. This storm followed so closely on the heels of the February 5th storm that the cold air it had brought down was still in place on the 9th. This allowed for snow despite the far north track.

Snow began in Columbus in the early morning hours of the 5th and continued into the 6th. Snowfall rates reached their peak in the late morning hours of the 5th, falling at 1/2″ per hour at times, but never quite reached the intensities of Storm #1. While some parts of the state had 7-8″, the Columbus area had 5-6″, about half of what it got in Storm #1. Still, cleanup from the first storm was still ongoing, and this latest snowfall severely complicated the process. Traffic and airport delays were common, and many schools were cancelled. Snow depths in Franklin County reached 10-16″ after the storm.

For a look at February 2010’s first storm, go here: February 5-6, 2010
For more February weather records, go here: February Weather
For more general weather records, go here: Columbus All-Time Weather




February 2010- Snowstorms x4 Part #1




The winter of 2009-2010 will go down as one of the best ever (if you like winter, that is). The biggest reason for that is February 2010.

Snowstorm #1: February 5-6, 2010

The first event started in the morning on February 5th. Forecasts in the days leading up to this event were mixed. Models were showing a lot of precipitation, but also a strong push of upper-level warm air into Ohio. How far north this warm layer reached was the point of contention. In most years, the WTOD, or the “Warm Tongue of Death” as some Ohio weather enthusiasts like to refer to it, is a constant threat each and every winter. When a storm is moving north or northeast south of the state, they tend to pull warm air north, and the Appalachian Mountains act like a funnel directing this warm air straight into Ohio. During winter events, it presents itself as a layer of warm air above the surface, often turning snow to ice, sleet or just plain rain, even if the surface itself is relatively cold. It’s a constant source of frustration for winter weather lovers. It was this phenomenon that was predicted to strike again and the dividing line, as it so often is, was predicted to be along I-70. North of there, mostly or all snow was predicted, while south was more mix, ice and rain. The I-70 corridor, including Columbus, was to be the northern extent of this mixing, limiting snowfall accumulations. Still, even with the mix predicted, a solid 4-6″ was predicted, which is a decent event by itself and about typical for any winter.

Precipitation began as snow across southern counties by dawn and spread north, reaching the Columbus area between 9 and 9:30AM. It started out as flurries, but the flakes were already fairly large. Within 15 minutes, the flurries had turned to very heavy, wet snow. Flakes were as large as quarters at times and stayed large, accumulating quickly despite the above freezing temperatures. Visibility quickly dropped to a half mile or less at times, and traffic quickly snarled with accidents as plows could not keep up with the pace of the inch-per-hour snowfall rates. Between 4PM and 5PM, there was a respite as snowfall lightened and there was a mix of sleet and ice pellets, but all snow resumed once heavier precipitation moved in, concluding the only and very short period of mixing I-70 had. Snow continued through the night of the 5th and into the 6th, finally ending before noon.

Snowfall totals were impressive, especially along and north of I-70, where little mixing took place, but also in pockets to the southeast of Columbus, like Lancaster. For Columbus, the 9.9″ that fell was good enough to be a top 15 largest snowfall for the city. It would not, however, be the largest snowfall of the month.

Greenville: 14.8″
Lancaster: 13.0″
Akron: 12.1″
Bellefontaine: 12.0″
Urbana: 12.0″
Westerville: 11.4″
Dayton: 11.1″
Springfield: 11.0″
Columbus: 9.9″
Youngstown: 8.4″
Delaware: 8.0″
Cleveland: 5.9″
Cincinnati: 4.5″
Circleville: 3.0″
Toledo: 3.0″

Snowfall for February 5-6, 2010

For February 2010’s 2nd storm, go here: February 9-10, 2010
For more February weather records, go here: February Weather
For more general weather records, go here: Columbus All-Time Weather




December 5-6, 2007- Clipper and Cold




Forecasts on December 4th, 2007 called for a weak, fast-moving clipper to affect much of the Midwest, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and east to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Most forecasts in Ohio had the area south of I-80 down to just north of the Ohio River getting 1-3″ of snowfall, with a potential max of 2-4″ in south-central Ohio from Dayton to Chillicothe.

Snowfall began in western Ohio at about 10pm and reached central Ohio by midnight on the 4th. It began as flurries and light snow showers but gradually increased in intensity overnight and into the morning of the 5th, becoming heavy at times. By the time that the snowfall ended around 2:30pm in the afternoon, 4-6″ covered most of central Ohio, with the heaviest accumulations right near the I-70 corridor. Another max of snow occurred along a Mansfield to Canton line where a general 4-6″ also occurred.

The night of the 5th-6th brought a cold night for most of Ohio as clear skies after the storm and snow-covered ground sent temperatures far below normal. Most areas saw temperatures in the single digits, and many even fell into the single digits below zero. For Columbus, the low of 9 was the second lowest temperature ever recorded for the 6th of December.

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




January 2-3, 1999- Snow and Ice




New Year’s Day, 1999 dawned partly cloudy and cold in Ohio, a tranquil early January day in what had been until then a very warm fall and beginning to winter. Both November and December 1998 had been very warm months. December even had highs reaching into the 70’s early in the month, a truly rare occurrence. However, by the end of December, conditions had taken a turn.

On December 21, 1998, a cold front moved through Ohio, bringing copious amounts of rain. Most cities in Ohio received more than 1″ of rainfall, with several getting 2-3″. This front was the beginning of a very active period that would last for the next three weeks into mid-January. This pattern is not uncommon in La Nina winters, where the Midwest and Ohio Valley, in particular, are often much wetter than normal.

In any event, temperatures fell behind the front and remained generally below normal through the rest of the month of December, though no significant snow events came with the colder weather. That was about to change.

National radars on January 1, 1999 showed blossoming snow in the Great Plains, with cold air pushing south and abundant moisture pushing north from the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasts called for a significant winter storm beginning late on the 1st and lasting through the 2nd. The storm arrived a bit later than expected, but arrived in most areas during the overnight hours of the 1st/2nd as heavy snowfall. The snow initially fell at the rate of at least 1″ per hour, and thundersnow was reported from Cincinnati up through Dayton and Columbus.

During the day on the 2nd, warm air began to affect upper layers of the atmosphere, and the snow gradually began to change over to sleet and freezing rain, with an accumulation of ice of up to 1/2″ in some areas on top of the snow. By then, though, the damage was done. 4-6″ of snow fell in the Cincinnati area, with 6-10″ along the I-70 corridor. Up to 12″ fell to the north of there. Gusty winds created blowing and drifting snow at times, particularly in the northern areas that received less of a coating of ice.

Temperatures turned colder as the storm passed, and what precipitation remained changed back to snow showers by the 3rd of January. Temperatures would remain in the low to mid-teens for highs during the next two days before another storm would set eyes on the state.

Snow Totals for January 2-3, 1999

Dayton: 7.5″
Columbus: 6.6″
Cincinnati: 4.2″

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




January 6-7, 1996- Surprise Blizzard




The first two weeks of January 1996 proved to be a very wintry period, culiminating in a severe snowstorm with blizzard conditions on the 6th-7th. Although this storm was made famous for its effects on the Eastern Seaboard, the storm also had a significant impact on areas to the west of the Appalachians.

This storm developed in the Gulf of Mexico on the 6th and moved up along the East Coast through the 7th. Forecasts for Ohio were not especially indicative of an impending major storm. A weak low pressure moving through the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys was supposed to die out as the main storm on the Coast took over. Ohio was generally forecast to receive 1-3″, mainly along and south of I-70, with the higher end of the range down along the Ohio River. Even as late as the night of the 6th when snow began to fall, forecasters were not calling for a significant event.

I have very vivid memories of seeing the afternoon and evening news on the 6th and being disappointed at the forecasts for the storm to pass us well to the east. However, by the morning of the 7th, it was clear that the forecast had gone very wrong. Heavy snow and strong winds affected mainly the southern 2/3rds of the state. For some locations, there would be more than 30 hours of continuous snowfall.

Blizzard conditions raged across west-central and northwestern sections of the state, where winds gusted over 55mph. Blowing and drifting snowfall piled drifts several feet deep, and travel across the state was made impassible, particularly on country roads. For many, this was one of the greatest January snowstorms ever, and in some cases, the worst storm since the Great Blizzard of 1978. 8-10″ was common in the state, but there was as much as 15″ in parts of the Ohio River communities, as well as areas in west-central Ohio.

Some snowfall totals:

Columbus: 9.0″ Dayton: 8.0″ Cincinnati: 14.4″

So why had the forecast gone so wrong? The weak low pressure that was supposed to die off as the larger system wound up along the East Coast did not die out as expected. Instead, it moved into the lower Ohio Valley and essentially stalled as it spun itself down slowly. This low helped suck moisture over the mountains and into Ohio. Temperatures were cold enough for this moisture to fall as all snow, and a tight gradient brought with it strong winds. The result was a paralyzing winter storm and one of the all-time forecast busts ever.

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