Winter Storms

This page highlights winter storm events in Columbus history. As these events are widespread across the area, any accumulation totals within the Metro Area will be included. The events are listed by type and in chronological order. Links to event pages will be given if available. Otherwise, there will be short descriptions with known accumulations for the events.

**Last Updated: 9/15/2020.

2010-2019

November 11-12, 2019: An early season storm brought rain changing to snow, leaving 1-4″ across the area.
https://www.weather.gov/iln/20191112

March 3, 2019: 1-3″ across the northern part of the metro. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190303

February 20, 2019: A surfaced low moved from the Plains northeast into the Ohio Valley, bringing with it a mixed-bag of precipitation, with the ice-snow dividing line set up in the typical location of I-75/I-70. Heavy snow fell north of the line with light ice and heavy rain to the south. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190220

February 1, 2019: A snowstorm brought widespread 3-6″ amounts across the metro area. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190201

January 19, 2019: A strong low pressure in the Tennessee Valley brought 3-6″ through the metro area.
See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190119

January 12-13, 2019: A strong, but quickly weakening clipper system brought heavy snow along and south of I-70. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190112

November 15, 2018: An early season ice storm brought up to a quarter-inch of ice accumulations into the metro area, causing minor damage to trees and power lines. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20181115

March 21, 2018: A low brought light accumulations through the area. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20180321

March 8, 2018: Snow squalls affected the area. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20180308

February 7, 2018: A low pressure brought 3-5″ of snow to the north and more than a quarter inch of ice to the south of the region. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20180207

January 15, 2018: A 2-part snow event brought general light to moderate accumulations to the region. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20180115

January 12-13, 2018: A low moving northeast through the Virginias brought heavy snow along and east of I-71. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20180112

2000-2009

March 7-8, 2008: Columbus’ biggest single snowstorm of all time began around 9AM on the 7th and continued through the late afternoon on the 8th as a low pressure system ran up the spine of the Appalachians. At the airport, a record 5″ fell on the 7th and a record 15.5″ fell on the 8th, the highest for any single day on record. The total of 20.5″ is the most snow for any storm on record, beating February 14-17, 2003’s 15.3″.

January 22, 2000: A clipper system moving southeast brought 1-4″ through the Columbus area.

January 19-20, 2000: A strong clipper system dropped east-southeast through southern Indiana into Kentucky, bringing heavy snow along and south of I-70. 4-6″ was common through the Columbus area. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20000120

1990-1999

January 24, 1997: Rain pushed into Central and Southern Ohio during the morning hours. Temperatures were at or just below freezing as the rain fell, so the rain turned to ice as it hit the ground and accumulated up to a quarter inch in some areas. Numerous accidents were reported throughout the area as roadways became icy just as the morning rush hour commenced.

January 6-7, 1996: Ohio was on the fringes of the Blizzard of 1996, which developed along the Gulf Coast and moved up the Atlantic Seaboard. A upper low in the Ohio Valley helped to pump moisture back into the state, causing heavy snow from the night of the 6th through the 7th. Totals across Central and Southern parts of the state were generally 6-12″, including 9″ at the Columbus airport, though totals approaching 20″ occurred near the Ohio River. Strong wind gusts of 30-50 MPH during the storm caused blizzard conditions at times. This was generally considered the worst winter storm since the Blizzard of 1978.

January 2-3, 1996: Low pressure in the Tennessee valley passed southeast of Ohio, bringing snow along and north of I-70. 4″-7″ was common through Central Ohio, with about 5″ at Port Columbus.

1980-1989

Friday, January 4, 1985
Light freezing rain fell over the southern half of Ohio during the morning hours. Port Columbus officially only recorded a trace of precipitation, but around the city, ice accumulated on bridges and overpasses enough to cause reports of accidents every 3-4 mintues during the morning rush hour. At least 1 person was killed in a 3-car accident on I-71.

1970-1979

1960-1969

1950-1959

January 31-February 1, 1951
Just a few days after the ice storm of January 28th, the second largest storm of the 1950-1951 winter (after the November blizzard) struck during the afternoon of Thursday, January 31st and went into the evening of Friday, Feburary 1st. The storm came as somewhat of a surprise to residents, as forecasts on January 30th had just called for continued cold with snow flurries. By the following morning, however, 4″-8″ was forecast for a large part of Ohio. The storm began as sleet during the evening before changing to snow overnight. By morning, 4″-6″ had fallen, with occasional snow for much of February 1st. In total, Columbus officialy recorded 6.6″, though some parts of the area had 8″ or more. All schools were closed during the event, and many stayed closed into the following Monday, as the storm was followed by extremely cold temperatures. Lows on the 2nd fell to -13 at Columbus, and reached -20 in suburban and rural areas.

Headlines for the January-February snowstorm of 1951.

January 28, 1951
An ice storm struck the area during the morning and early afternoon hours of Monday, causing up to 300 injuries from car accidents and slips and falls on the ice-covered sidewalks and streets. Although not as severe as the ice storm that had occurred one year prior, the few tenths of ice accumlation on most surfaces was more than enough to cancel many events across the area. Columbus schools did no cancel, but many suburban districts with many more rural roads did. Columbus work crews used up to 400 tons of salt, calcium and sand on city streets during the event.

January 4-6, 1950
Rainy conditions that had prevailed since New Year’s Day culiminated in an ice storm that was called the “worst in many years”. Rain turned to ice on the evening of Wednesday, January 4th and continued at times through the morning of Friday, January 6th. The worst conditions occurred on the 5th. Roads remained largely only wet, but trees, power lines and exposed surfaces had up to a quarter inch of ice. Trolleys struggled as the ice accumulated on their lines, causing constant power losses. When trolleys managed to run, contact with the lines caused them to spark in brilliant blue flashes, lighting up the sky “like a grand display of Northern Lights”. Tree limbs came down across the area, and power outages were common.

1940-1949

1930-1939

1920-1929

1910-1919

January 6-7, 1910
One of the largest winter storms to ever impact Columbus moved in from the Southwest and Texas area. It began hitting the area at around 10pm on Wednesday, January 5th as sleet that changed to rain and then back to sleet. As colder air filtered in, the mix changed to very heavy, powdery snow early on Thursday morning, and by 7am had accumulated up to 10″ across the city. Snow lightened throughout the day, but continued into the early hours of Friday before ending. The final city total of 12.7″ remains a top 10 event. The 11.9″ that fell on Thursday alone remains the 3rd highest daily total ever.
Streetcar travel was “crippled” on many lines, and roads and sidewalks were impassable. Snowplows with men and wagons were able to clear a single lane in the middle of some streets to allow wagons and pedestrians to get through.
Almost all trains at Union Station were hours late as many areas and states around Ohio were also hit by the heavy snow.

1900-1909

1890-1899

1880-1889

1878-1879