Cold Events

Cold temperatures are a reality every year, and not just in winter. Unlike with the seasonal records pages, cold events will be described in greater detail here.

**Last Updated: 5/19/2020





April 9th-15th, 1997
April 1997 was about 4-5 degrees colder than normal across the state, with the peak coming mid-month. Temperatures bottomed out in the teens and low 20s on some of the mornings during this period, with highs failing to make it out of the 30s across Central Ohio on the 9th. The cold damaged some plants and trees that were beginning to bloom. Columbus temperatures were below normal on all but 4 days during the month, and lows hit freezing or below on 10 days.

January, 1997
Although the winter of 1996-97 went down as warmer than average, January did have 2 brief, but memorable cold spells mid-month. The first occurred on the 11th-13th when temperatures across much of the state failed to make it out of the single-digits for highs, with lows below zero. Columbus temperatures stayed between -1 and 13 degrees over the course of the period. A second cold wave on the 17th-18th produced similar conditions. Wind chills during both periods were between -25 and -40 degrees. Pipes froze and ruptured, and some people were treated for or succumbed to hypothermia across the state, though none occurred in Central Ohio.


December, 1985
The fall of 1985 had been very wet, but not particularly cold. That changed in December when temperatures fell below normal on the 2nd and stayed there most of the rest of the month. Similar to December 2000 or 2010, December 1985 had no extreme cold- its lowest temperature was 0 on the 26th- but rather just consistently well below normal. The average temperature of 26 degrees is the 13th lowest on record and 7.5 degrees below the 1981-2010 average. The cold weather pattern brought with it several light snowfalls kept an inch or two of snow cover on the ground for most of the month. The persistent cold did not last into January, 1986, which was almost 4 degrees above normal.





January 1940

For winter weather, the decade of the 1940s was not very noteworthy. On average, its winters produced the least snowfall and most were well above average in temperatures. The decade did not begin that way, however. January 1940 was historically cold, and with an average temperature of just 17.8 degrees- almost 12 degrees below normal- remains the 3rd coldest January ever recorded. Temperatures were in the teens on New Year’s Day and remained below freezing for most of the month. Lows fell below 0 on 4 days, with the cold peak occuring on the 19th with a high of 2 and a low of -11. Snowfall was normal, and the cold kept measurable snow on the ground on all but 3 days.