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.

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.



March 7-8, 2008: Columbus’ Greatest Snowstorm




On the eve of the anniversary of Columbus’ biggest snowstorm, I thought I would repost this. Makes you appreciate just how mild and uneventful Winter 2015-2016 has been, doesn’t it?

More than one week prior to the Blizzard of 2008, models had been hinting at a significant storm somewhere in the eastern US. Initially, models took the storm up the East Coast, but as the storm neared, models moved it further and further west and settled upon a track just west/just along the spine of the Appalachians. The track waffled for days, but never strayed far from the Appalachian track. Because the storm was originating near the Gulf of Mexico, models were showing the storm pulling vast amounts of moisture north into cold air over the Ohio Valley. Simply put, the track and conditions were being forecast to be perfect for a significant Ohio snowstorm.

Local forecasters, however, weren’t buying it… at least not at first. Four days before the storm, neither the NWS nor the television forecasters were calling for a significant event. The winter of 2007-08 had brought several storm busts, and none of them seemed ready to buy into another one. So right up to 24-36 hours before the event began, forecasters were calling for 6″ maximum north and west of the I-71 corridor with a mix along the corridor and mostly rain to the south and east. So, right up until the end, many Ohioans were led to believe that this would be a large, but still a run-of-the-mill, snow event.

My personal account of the storm:

On Thursday, March 6th, I worked a 12-hour day at my store. Customers were talking about forecasts of 4-8″, which in central Ohio is significant in and of itself. We typically get one or two 6″ storms, but rarely up to 8″ and almost never more than that. In fact, in all of Columbus history, there have been less than a dozen snow events that broke double digits. Still, in the talking there were whispers that the storm would be more significant. By Thursday night when I arrived home, I discovered the radar was lit up over the South with a growing area of precipitation heading north. Temperatures had already cooled into the low 30s as a cold front had moved through during the day. Forecasts had changed late in the afternoon, and there were many calls of 6-10″ along I-71 by Sunday.

Friday, March 7th was my day off, and I woke up before 8am in the excitement and inticipation of the impending snow. The radar was showing returns north of the Ohio River then and it was already snowing in Cincinnati. Finally, at 9:05am, flurries began to fall and quickly intensified to a steady, windblown snow. A 9:30, I left the house to go to the store. By the time I reached it, the snow had turned heavy and was accumulating quickly. Visibility had dropped to a 1/4 mile at times and many roads were already snowcovered by the time I reached home.

The snow continued throughout the day and forecasts kept changing, finally settling on 10-15″ along the I-71 corridor with little to no mixing. Meanwhile, the snow continued into the evening and overnight hours of the 7th. Although it did lighten somewhat towards midnight, it never completely stopped. By midnight, in any case, 5-7″ had fallen throughout Columbus and central Ohio, which set a daily record.

Saturday, March 8th dawned very wintry. By dawn, no less than 10″ was on the ground and the snow was continuing to fall heavily. Overnight, blizzard warnings had gone up for all of the NWS Wilmington forecast zone as winds were expected to increase during the day. Winds were generally sustained near 20mph in the morning and increased during the late morning/early afternoon. Heavy snow and winds combined to create total whiteout conditions at times, and every county along I-71 from Cincinatti to Cleveland went under a level 2 or level 3 snow emergency.

At 11am, I went for a walk in the snow. It was still falling heavily and roads were nearly impassable with deep snow. Cars in some cases were buried in snow.

By 2pm, a break in the snowfall came as the low moved to the east of Ohio. When it moved into New York, wraparound snow moved back into the area for 3-4 more hours before ending by 6:30pm Saturday afternoon. The sun even poked through the clouds as it set, producing a very picturesque and beautiful winter scene. A fitting end to the day.

All in all, it was a record setting snowstorm all across the state. Columbus’ 20.5″ of snowfall, including 15.5″ on Saturday alone, was the greatest snowstorm of all time for the city. It also established the greatest 24-hour snowfall and the greatest snow depth ever recorded at 18″. No part of the state was spared, as all major cities except Toledo had 10″ or more. Drifts of 5-7 feet deep were reported in many areas.

The storm also brought some areas of the state to record territory in total seasonal snowfall.

Incidentally, 30 years and 2 months prior, the Great Blizzard of 1978 struck. It is somewhat of note that Ohio’s greatest blizzards on record occurred during the “8” years. 1918, 1978, and now 2008.

The first image below is a model snow depth forecast ending on March 9th. The second is a photo of the heavy snow in Columbus during the evening of the 7th.

Snow in Hilltop, Columbus.

Here are some videos during the storm.
Dayton Area
https://youtu.be/sEJ5diRfP88
Cleveland Area
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxS60SYXn24
Columbus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpgKmawafwk

For more March weather records, check here: March Weather




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




Worst Winters of All Time



As summer slowly approaches its inevitable end, thoughts of winter have started to creep into our minds. The last two winters seemed particularly harsh, and questions were often asked as to their historic status as well as whether another bad winter was on the way. Ask any older person in Ohio, and the winters between 1976 and 1979 will often come up. But do they really deserve their reputations? To find out, I came up with a ranking system for meteorological winter only- December through February. Here was the criteria:

Temperature: # of 32 or Below Highs, # of 32 or Below Lows, # of 0 or Below Highs, # of 0 or Below Lows: Each earned the winter a point for each day that featured these conditions.
# of 60 or Above Highs and # of 50 or Above Lows meant a point was removed for each occurrence.

Precipitation: # of Days with Measurable Snowfall, # of 1″+ Snow Days, # of 2.5″+ Snow Days, # of 5″+ Snow Days, # of 10″+ Snow Days as well as # of Measurable Precipitation Days all counted as 1 point for each occurrence.

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 last winter. 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. 1881-1882, 1943-1944: 111
6. 2001-2002: 112
7. 1996-1997: 115
8. 1948-1949, 1953-1954: 118
9. 1941-1942, 1982-1983: 120
10. 1918-1919: 122
11. 1936-1937: 123
12. 1932-1933, 1991-1992: 124
13. 1930-1931: 125
14. 1905-1906, 1972-1973: 126
15. 1949-1950: 128
16. 1897-1898, 1986-1987: 129
17. 2011-2012: 130
18. 1938-1939: 131
19. 1937-1938: 134
20. 1908-1909, 1920-1921, 2005-2006: 135
21. 1924-1925: 137
22. 1896-1897: 138
23. 1927-1928, 1929-1930, 1940-1941, 1990-1991: 139
24. 1952-1953: 140
25. 1921-1922, 1945-1946, 1998-1999: 141
26. 1988-1989: 143
27. 1891-1892: 144
28. 1946-1947, 1971-1972: 145
29. 1912-1913, 1934-1935: 147
30. 1923-1924, 1992-1993: 148

Look how many of the warmest/least snowy occur 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 2015-2016? Well, that remains to be seen. However, the developing strong El Nino suggests a warmer than average winter. However, factors such as its position (west or east-based) as well as the PDO could throw some wrenches into that standard El Nino forecast. Either way, it will likely not be a top 30 worst.

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.

February 9-10, 2010 Snowstorm




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 more February weather records, go here: February Weather

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.

February 5-6, 2010 Snowstorm




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.

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″

Snow totals for the NWS Wilmington area.

For more February weather records, go here: February Weather

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.