I get a lot of requests and searches for weather information on this site. Weather pages are actually some of the most popular. So I created a new page specifically focusing on the current winter season. It will have up-to-date stats dealing with snowfall, temperature, etc. This new page is here: Winter 2018-2019
Certain years show up on all the lists, including 1906, 1910, 1978, 2003, 2008 and 2010. These winters all had periods of extreme snowfall and are considered “historic”.
Check out more All-Time records here: All-Time Weather
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.