Winter 2017-2018




Wind and heavy snow on the evening of January 12, 2018.

The winter of 2017-2018 featured some wild swings, from a very cold late December-early January to one of the warmest Februaries 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.

Columbus’ Christmas Day Climatology




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

1878-2016 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: 24
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: 35
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: 26
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″

Most Snow on the Ground (Since 1947)
1. 1960: 9″
2. 1961, 1963, 1989, 1995: 4″
3. 1969, 1980, 2004: 3″

Number of Days with Snowfall
0.0″: 73
Trace: 22
0.1″-0.4″: 19
0.5″-0.9″: 9
1″-2.9″: 7
3″ or More: 3

href=”http://allcolumbusdata.com/december/”>December Weather
For more general Columbus weather records, go here:




Does Fall Weather Correlate to Winter Severity?




As we go into the winter season, it’s time to talk about how this one might end up. There’s a belief that fall weather is a good sign of how cold or warm winter will be. How true is that for Columbus? Also, what might any correlation mean for the winter of 2017-2018?

First, let’s just look at October temperatures.
The October normal mean temperature for Columbus is 55 degrees.

Between 1878 and 2016, there have been 47 Octobers that featured a mean temperature of 53.9 degrees or lower, what we’re considering a Cold October for the purposes of this comparison.
Of those 47 Octobers, 27 of the 47 had following winters that were colder than normal, or 57.4%, 13 had average temperature winters, or 27.7%, and the remaining 7 were warmer than normal, or 14.9%.
Interestingly, this category contains both the warmest winter on record- 1889-1890 and the coldest on record- 1976-1977- as shown by the chart below.

Next, we look at Normal Octobers, which are +/- 1 degree of the 1981-2010 Average of 55 degrees.
Between 1878 and 2016, there were 45 normal Octobers. Of those, 21 had colder than normal following winters, or 46.7%. 11 were followed by normal winters, or 24.4%, and 13 had warmer than normal winters, or 28.9%.

Finally, let’s look at warm Octobers, which are those with means of 56.1 degrees or higher. There were 46 Octobers with warmer than normal means since 1878. Of those, 18 featured following winters that were colder than normal, or 39.1%. Another 18, or 39.1%, were followed by average winters. The final 10 winters were warmer than normal. Here’s the graph.

So just based on the October mean temperature, Octobers that are colder than normal have a 47% higher chance of having a colder than normal winter than warmer than normal Octobers do. But is October a better indicator than November, a month that is closer to actual winter?

Colder than normal Novembers- 43.3 degrees or lower- included 78 Novembers since 1878. Of those, 38 or 48.7% had colder than normal winters. 21 (26.9%) had normal winters and 19 (24.4) had warmer than normal winters.

With the 38 normal Novembers, 43.4 to 45.4 degrees, there were 18 that had colder than normal winters, or 47.4%, with 11 normal winters (28.9%) and 9 warmer than normal winters (23.7%).

Finally, there were 24 warmer than normal Novembers since 1878- 45.5 degrees or higher. Only 6, or 25%, were followed by cold winters. An additional 9 (37.5%) were normal, while the last 9 (37.5%) were warmer than normal.

To reiterate, here are the ranked percentages of cold winters by the preceding October or November.
1. Cold Octobers: 57.4%
2. Cold Novembers: 48.7%
3. Normal Novembers: 47.4%
4. Normal Octobers: 46.7%
5. Warm Octobers: 39.1%
6. Warm Novembers: 25.0%

It should be no surprise that cold Octobers and Novembers have a stronger correlation to the following winters also being colder, with colder winters becoming increasingly unlikely as those months warm. Cold Octobers have a higher correlation than Cold Novembers, as well as Warm Octobers, but Normal Novembers have a slight advantage over Normal Octobers. Based on this, October actually has a stronger correlation to the following winter’s temperature mean than does November.

Going further, though, what about bi-monthly combinations?

Rank of Bi-Monthly Combinations and the percentage of colder than normal following winters, along with total years in sample:
Normal October/Normal November: 87.5% 8 Years
Cold October/Warm November: 57.1% 7 Years
Cold October/Cold November: 53.8% 26 Years
Normal October/Cold November: 48.1% 27 Years
Warm October/Cold November: 44.0% 25 Years
Cold October/Normal November: 38.5% 13 Years
Warm October/Warm November: 28.6% 7 Years
Warm October/Normal November: 26.7% 15 Years
Normal October/Warm November: 0.0% 8 Years

So a normal fall is clearly the best, but the sample size is not particularly high. Normal to Warm is unanimously warm, but again, it has a small sample size.

October 2017 has been overwhelmingly warm. While this wouldn’t normally bode well for a cold winter, each year is influenced by a multitude of factors.



Historic Record of Early Season Cold




With temperatures predicted to fall to near freezing for the first time this week for the fall season, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the incidence of early-season cold, and the average on when it tends to arrive.

Here are the earliest dates on record for the following:

Temperatures Below 40 and Temperature Range of Observed Dates
1. 8/29/1965: 39
2. 9/8/1951: 39
3. 9/9/1883: 39
4. 9/13/1964: 38
5. 9/14/1902, 9/14/1923, 9/14/1953, 19/14/1975: 38-39
6. 9/17/1959: 37
7. 9/20/1896, 9/20/1956, 9/20/1962: 37-39
8. 9/21/1889, 9/21/1897, 9/21/1991: 37-38
9. 9/22/1918, 9/22/1974, 9/22/1976, 9/22/1995: 37-38
10. 9/23/1885, 9/23/1913, 9/23/1963, 9/23/1967, 9/23/1981, 9/23/1989: 35-39

Average Date of First Under-40 Temp By Decade (1878-2014)
2010s: October 11th
2000s: October 8th
1990s: October 2nd
1980s: September 30th
1970s: October 1st
1960s: September 25th
1950s: September 25th
1940s: September 30th
1930s: October 11th
1920s: October 2nd
1910s: October 9th
1900s: October 5th
1890s: October 1st
1880s: October 2nd
1870s: October 1st

Highs Below 32
1. 10/30/1917: 32
2. 11/3/1951, 11/3/1966: 28-29
3. 11/4/1991: 27
4. 11/6/1967: 31
5. 11/7/1971: 31
6. 11/8/1976: 32
7. 11/10/1913: 27
8. 11/12/1920, 11/12/1921, 11/12/1932: 30-32
9. 11/13/1911, 11/13/1919, 11/13/1986, 11/13/1996: 25-32
10. 11/15/1880, 11/15/1893, 11/15/1916, 11/15/1933, 11/15/1940, 11/15/1969: 24-32

Average Date of First 32 or Below High By Decade
2010s: December 4th
2000s: December 2nd
1990s: December 7th
1980s: November 28th
1970s: November 29th
1960s: November 23rd
1950s: November 26th
1940s: December 2nd
1930s: November 27th
1920s: November 28th
1910s: November 22nd
1900s: November 30th
1890s: November 25th
1880s: November 30th
1870s: December 4th

Lows Below 32
1. 9/21/1962: 31
2. 9/29/1961: 32
3. 9/30/1888, 9/30/163: 31-32
4. 10/1/1899: 30
5. 10/2/1886, 10/2/1908, 10/2/1974: 31-32
6. 10/3/1975, 10/3/1981, 10/3/2003: 32
7. 10/4/1952, 10/4/1987: 29-32
8. 10/5/1965, 10/5/1968: 31-32
9. 10/6/1892, 10/6/1964, 10/6/1980, 10/6/1988: 30-31
10. 10/7/1889, 10/7/1935: 30-31

Average Date of First 32 or Below Low By Decade
2010s: October 24th
2000s: October 26th
1990s: October 22nd
1980s: October 17th
1970s: October 17th
1960s: October 8th
1950s: October 22nd
1940s: November 3rd
1930s: October 24th
1920s: October 28th
1910s: October 31st
1900s: October 24th
1890s: October 20th
1880s: October 20th
1870s: October 26th




How Cold and Snowy Was January 2014 Really?



There has been a lot of talk about this winter and how bad it has been, especially in January, where the term “polar vortex” became a household name. Of course, polar vortexes are a fairly common winter term in the meteorological community and they happen every single year somewhere. The only real difference this year has been that it came further south in some areas than normal. Combined with frequent snowfalls, it has given the perception that the winter overall has been unusually severe. But how does the winter so far, and January 2014, stack up historically?

First, let’s look at temperatures since December 1st, the start of meteorological winter.

For December 1st to January 31st, the average temperature has been 28.75 degrees. Normal for this period is 31.55 degrees, so it has been below normal by 2.8 degrees. But is that departure from normal really historically bad? Not really. In fact, it doesn’t even rank in the top 20 coldest. However, the average temperature alone doesn’t really tell the whole story. January, in particular, was very cold overall, with an average of just 22.8 degrees. That DID rank the month in the top 20, at #15 out of more than 135 years of records. It also featured 7 days with low temperatures at or below 0 degrees. Only a handful of other years featured more than that, even though the coldest low of the month (-11) did not come close to the coldest readings on record. So it has been more about repeated bouts of cold rather than record cold.

Next, we’ll look at seasonal snowfall through January 31st. This is where the 2013-2014 winter really begins to take its place in history. After having the snowiest 1st 10 days of December on record, the winter has continued to add to its totals. Through January 31st, Columbus had received 35.1″ of snow, which was already 6.2″ above what would fall for an ENTIRE SEASON, let alone through that date. In fact, the season was more than 20″ above normal by then. The 35.1″ is also the 6th highest total by the 31st of any winter on record, and the 17.7″ that fell during January made it the 16th snowiest, and this was after the 8th snowiest December on record, with 12.7″. Even if not a flake of snow more fell the rest of the winter, it would still end up as the 30th snowiest.

February is looking to keep with the same winter pattern, at least for the next week or two. A winter storm warning is currently in effect for 8-10″ of snow for the Columbus area and continued below normal temperatures. Could the 2013-2014 winter season end up in the record books? Yes, and already has. With the current storm bearing down and potentially more on the horizon, the season will keep moving up.

December 2012 Weather Recap



December was probably one of the strangest months ever for weather. The first three weeks were extremely warm, being almost 10 degrees above normal. The last 10 days cooled off, but not enough to make up for the warmth. The mean was 39.4 degrees, or 5.9 degrees above normal, and December ended up being the 10th warmest on record.

Although the month was very wet from the beginning (3rd wettest), there was also only a trace of snowfall through the 20th, and it looked like the month might end with below normal snowfall. Then 4 separate snow events dropped 14.9″ the last 10 days, making the month the 4th snowiest December of all time. Not only that, but two of the snowfalls (5.9″ and 4.9″) were two of the top 20 snowfalls for a December.

December 2012 will definitely go down as one of those months that defied expectations.

December 14-15, 1901: Columbus Mega Front



Temperatures through November and early December 1901 had been persistently below normal. 24 days in November had been below normal, and but for a few days very early in December, this pattern continued. However, beginning on December 11th, temperatures began to rise ahead of an approaching weather system. By the 13th, temperatures reached record highs in Columbus when they spiked at 65 degrees. The following day started equally warm with a record high of 65. However, a change was coming. A powerful cold front would move through late on the 14th, and temperatures began to plummet. By midnight, the temperature had dropped all the way down to just 14 degrees, a single day drop of 51 degrees! 1.50″ of precipitation accompanied the frontal passage, with over 4″ wind-driven snow.

On the 15th, the temperature continued to fall, albeit more slowly, and by midnight the reading was -4. This mega-cold front had produced a 69 degree total drop in Columbus, which made it one of the strongest cold fronts ever to move through the Ohio region.

The front would bring a major pattern change. Every day from the 15th-21st featured highs in the teens, which set many daily low maximum records, some of which still stand more than 100 years later.

The winter of 1901-02 was generally cold and snowy in the Ohio Valley, but no future front that winter would come close to December 14-15th of 1901.

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.