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Governor's Winter Safety Week Resolution
2014-2015 Ohio Winter Summary
Winter Weather Terms
Preparedness for Schools
Ice & Snow, Take It Slow
Winter Safety Tips For The Home
Winter Safety Tips For For The Vehicle
Winter Safety Tips For Fire Safety
Winter Health & Safety Tips
Snow Emergency Classifications
Wind Chill Index
Flood Information and Safety Tips
Flood Insurance Information
Carbon Monoxide Information & Safety
Portable Generator Info
Severe Winter Storm Resource List
For the second winter in a row, cold and snowy weather was reported across all of northern Ohio last winter. All of the major climate sites finished with snowfall totals at or above normal. But, it was the record setting cold that occurred in February that will long be remembered. Most areas saw their coldest February ever and one of the coldest months of all time. Only January of 1977 was colder than February of 2015 in many areas. Overall temperatures for the winter of 2014-2015 were slightly warmer than those of the winter of 2013-2014. Schools throughout northern Ohio were closed many days because of the cold.
The winter got off to a fast start with below normal temperatures and a lot of snow during November. For the month, temperatures averaged 4-6 degrees below normal. The first significant lake effect event dumped up to a foot of snow on the northeast corner of Ohio on November 13th and 14th. A week later, heavy lake effect bands hit Lorain and western Cuyahoga counties and dumped a quick 6 to 8 inches of snow. Many accidents were reported during both events. Numerous other light snows were reported during the month. A damaging wind storm also affected the northern end of the state on November 24th. Wind gusts in excess of 60 mph downed hundreds of trees and caused scattered power outages.
Winter took a break during the month of December. Little snow fell during the month and temperatures averaged 3-4 degrees above normal. All of the major reporting stations recorded less than an inch of snow for the month.
Winter really got going in January. There were frequent storms producing a few inches of snow. Both Mansfield and Youngstown finished the month with top 10 January snowfall totals with 25.0 and 29.3 inches of snow respectively. Even northwest Ohio saw more than a foot of snow during the month. Temperatures took a downward turn and finished the month averaging 2-4 degrees below normal.
February will long be remembered for its brutal temperatures. Morning lows were at or below 0 degrees, 10 or more days during the month. On the 15th, high temperatures barely made it above 0 degrees. For the month, average temperatures were as much as 15 degrees below normal, making February of 2015 the coldest on record at all but Toledo and Akron-Canton. The morning low of -17 at Cleveland on the 20th was the coldest February temperature ever at that location and tied for the fourth coldest low ever. Wind chills on Feb. 15, 16 and 20 were as cold as -35 degrees, prompting all schools to close. The most significant snow storm of the year impacted the area on Feb. 1-2. Low pressure moved up the Ohio Valley and dumped more than a foot of snow north of a line from Bowling Green to Warren. South of this line, there was a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain which caused massive traffic problems. Other storms produced periods of snow throughout the month. All of the major reporting sites finished the month with top 10 snowfall totals for February. In fact, Toledo had its snowiest February ever with 25.3 inches of snow.
Temperatures remained cold during March with average temperatures again several degrees below normal. Snowfall totals of up to a foot were common during the month. When warmer weather finally returned later in the month, significant ice jam flooding occurred on northern Ohio rivers. Many homes and businesses were damaged by the flood waters.
The meteorological winter season of 2014-2015 began mild with little snowfall in December and ended very cold and snowy in February. In between, January temperatures and snowfall averaged near normal.
After an unusually cold and snowy November, December was drastically different with above normal temperatures and little in the way of snowfall. January featured near normal conditions with periods of very cold and snowy weather but no strong systems like 2014. The most extreme weather in January occurred between the 5th and 10th of the month as a prolonged period of sub-zero wind chills and light snow settled in.
February began with a powerful winter storm that dropped more than 10 inches of snow on northwest Ohio, although accumulations were limited across the far south (Lima, OH area) where rain mixed in with the snow. This set the stage for a very cold and snowy month with several records broken. This ranked as the third coldest and second snowiest February on record at the Fort Wayne Airport. A noteworthy event occurred on February 14 when snow squalls and 40 mph wind created blizzard-like conditions behind an arctic front. As for temperatures, the brutally cold arctic air arrived on the 12th and remained entrenched across the region through the end of the month. All but three days in this stretch had an average temperature of at least -10 degrees.
This very cold February gave way to a cool and dry March.
Snow and strong winds created near blizzard conditions at times on February 14, along and behind a strong arctic front. Snow amounts generally ranged between 1 and 3 inches. Wind gusts up to 45 mph and snow squalls along and behind an arctic front created near whiteout conditions at times on February 14. Visibilities were reduced to less than 200 feet in heavier snow showers, with total snow accumulations generally ranging between 1 and 2 inches. Several multi-vehicle accidents were reported across the region due to reduced visibilities and slick roads.
The first accumulating snow for winter fell in early January. Valentine’s weekend was the first really cold snap of the season along with another burst of snow. Early on February 15, wind chill readings of -10 to -15 degrees were common. A reinforcing system brought another round of snow for Washington’s Birthday, bringing anywhere from 4 to 10 inches across southeast Ohio. Less than a week later, another round of cold air brought more snow and below zero wind chill readings. In several counties, the morning of Feb. 20 was the coldest since the cold waves of February 1996 and January 1994. Meteorological winter ended as a wet one. Early in March, 1.5 to 2 inches of rain fell helping to accelerate the melting of snow that was on the ground. The rain changed to sleet and wet snow during the late afternoon and early evening of March 4. By the afternoon of the 5th a total snow accumulation of 10-13 inches was common from Jackson and Lawrence counties on up the Ohio River to Washington County. This caused prolonged power outages in several locations. In addition, minor flooding occurred from Gallia County on down the river through Ironton on the 6th and 7th in several locations.
Southwest and Central Ohio
Aside from a mid-November snowstorm, winter got off to a rather mild start across southwest and central Ohio with December featuring hardly any measurable snow along with warmer than normal average temperatures across the area. A strong Christmas Eve storm system resulted in some severe weather across mainly central Ohio, including a weak tornado that briefly touched down and caused minor damage near Lancaster.
Winter made a sudden comeback as the calendar flipped to 2015, however, with January bringing significantly colder temperatures along with several inches of snow to the greater Dayton and Columbus metro areas. February brought a few blasts of bitter cold and a handful of winter storms to the region with the month finishing much colder and snowier than normal. A Valentine’s Day snow squall day brought very little snow, but the combination only about 1 inch of snow with wind and reduced visibility resulted in multiple pile-ups on three Ohio interstates and several highway fatalities. President’s Day week followed with very cold temperatures – with overnight lows hitting the -10 to even -20 degrees across the region. Winter’s last gasp came the first week of March to southern Ohio, with a range from 6 to 18 inches of heavy, wet snow across the far south.
There were seven days this winter in which low temperatures dipped below zero in Columbus and Dayton and five in Cincinnati. While this was not as many subzero days as the very cold winter of 2013-2014, it was still more than normal for a central/southwest Ohio winter. Total snowfall for the season (including all snow from October through April) was 33.4 inches in Columbus, 29.9 inches in Cincinnati, and 27.7 inches in Dayton.