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Governor's Winter Safety Awareness Week Resolution
Winter Safety Information
Ohio Winter Summary
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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
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Turn Around Don’t Drown®
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Portable Generator Info
Severe Winter Storm Resource List
Central and Southwest Ohio:
Winter got an early start across much of the region in November with below normal temperatures for much of the month and a somewhat significant early-season accumulating snow event that evolved during the early morning hours on November 12, 2019. Many spots in the region received at least 1-2” of accumulation, with some locations north of I-70 in west-central Ohio picking up 4-5” of snow. In fact, despite the timing in early/mid-November, this was one of the notable accumulating snowfall events to impact the region during the winter of 2019-2020. This early-season snow helped reinforce what was already a very chilly pattern, with temperatures moderating only slightly toward the end of the month. With this being said, there was additional light snow that fell from the afternoon of the 23rd into the 24th as widespread rain changed to a brief period of light snow on the backside of a departing low pressure system. This allowed for a swath of 1-2” of snow to accumulate from west-central Ohio southeast through southwest Ohio.
What stood out most about the transition of the weather pattern from November into December was the fact that December was milder, overall, than November. In fact, it was the first instance at Cincinnati (KCVG) since 1984 that the daily average temperature was actually cooler in November than was the case in December. This is not to say that December was without its “wintry moments,” because there were several light snow events that impacted the region through the month, including on the 15th and again on the 16th. The event on the 15th into the 16th brought 2-4” of snow for areas near/north of the Ohio River, with another 1-2” that fell the following day, even as warmer air filtered into the region, resulting in mainly rain in southwest Ohio by the 17th. For many spots in the region, these several days were the only that offered accumulating snow in the entire month. In fact, a much warmer air mass built into the region by the Christmas holiday, with high temperatures in the 60s and lows in the 40s. A cold front brought a return to more seasonably cold air by the end of the month, with several days of rain to close out the year.
The first month of the New Year started off on a very mild note across much of the Ohio Valley, with little in the way of any notable “wintry” precipitation through at least the first half of the month. By the middle of the month, the pattern turned a bit quieter, but still without much in the way of snow or wintry temperatures. In fact, despite the seasonably chilly air to end the month, many spots still ended up 6-8 degrees above normal for January as a whole. With this extended warmth entrenched across the region for most of the month, snowfall was far below what is typically the snowiest month of the year for many in the region.
A more winter-like pattern did set up for February, with multiple light snow events throughout the month. This was especially the case in a week from the 6th through the 13th, in which three separate (02/07, 02/08, and 02/12) light snow events impacted southwestern and central Ohio, each bringing 1-3” of snow to different parts of the local area. The system on the 12th did bring a bit heavier snow to spots north of I-70, with a sharp cutoff to the accumulations a bit further south as rain mixed in in southwest Ohio. With all of this being said, there still was not much in the way of a “significant” snow event in the region to close out the winter, which allowed NWS Wilmington to go through the entire winter season without issuing a winter storm warning.
The unusually warm winter season concluded on an unsurprisingly warm note as mild temperatures filtered into the Ohio Valley in March, leading to only one or two light snow events as the region slowly transitioned into a more spring-like pattern. In fact, the winter also ended without any truly cold arctic blast, as is often the case at least several times during the season. The coldest temperature measured at Cincinnati (KCVG) and Columbus (KCMH) during the entire winter season occurred in November, when the temperature dropped to 10°F and 11°F, respectively. It was the first winter since 2012 that Cincinnati (KCVG) did not experience a single-digit temperature at all during the winter and it was the second warmest minimum temperature ever recorded at Columbus (KCMH) during a winter season (1998). And although the winter did feature above normal temperatures as a whole, it was not quite as mild as the winters of 2015-2016 or 2016-2017. Moreover, while snowfall was much below normal, precipitation (including rain) was near to slightly above normal from the period of November through March. In fact, there were several high-impact flood events (03/19 and 03/28) that evolved in March, especially during the second half of the month.
TLast winter was notably mild with above normal temperatures and below normal snowfall. Winter began a couple trace to one inch snow events in December, along with a mid-December bout of lows in the teens and single-digits. On New Year’s Eve, wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph created treacherous travel even though snow amounts were 1” or less. January featured highs well into the 50s early on before turning cooler at the end of the month. Snow continued to occur through small doses, with the greatest single-day totals in the 1” – 3” range. Another bout of high temperatures in the upper-50s to start February offered hope for an early spring. Alas, high temperatures tumbled into the teens by mid-month with lows in the single-digits. The biggest snow event for the month, and for the winter, brought 3” to 7” of snow February 25-27.
The winter of 2019-2020 in northern Ohio was fairly benign with below-normal snowfall totals across the region and warm spells during the early months of 2020. The main snow event of the season was November 11-13, 2019, when an arctic air mass entered the region. Ahead of this system, widespread snow moved through Northeast Ohio with 6” to 10” of snow falling upon the region. As colder air moved in, efficient lake effect snow developed with an additional 6” to 12” of snow through the same areas and portions of Geauga and Ashtabula Counties received a foot and a half to two feet of snow by the evening of Nov. 12. If significant snowfall wasn’t enough of an opening to winter, temperatures fell into the teens across much of the area with some single digits into Northwest Ohio, setting record lows across the region.
The rest of the winter season snowfall was marginal, at best. Several minor lake effect snow events lashed at the Snow Belt region of Ohio through December with minor accumulations through the end of the month. As the calendar changed to 2020, January had a warm start to the year and temperatures in the 60s to near 70 by the second weekend of the month. Colder temperatures returned for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend and a larger lake effect snow event hit Northeast Ohio, lingering around the Cleveland metro area. Some areas in Ohio picked up another foot and a half to two feet of snow. Outside of this event, conditions remained dry and temperatures were slightly above normal to allow for January 2020 to be a Top 10 warmest January on record. Another lake effect snow event hit Ohio on February 7-8 and some thundersnow was reported in the Cleveland area. The final significant lake effect snow event of the season was in the last days of February and several days of lake effect snow allowed for one to two feet of accumulation to end meteorological winter.
The average temperature for the winter season (December-February) was in the mid 30s for most climate sites, which was a top 10 warmest winter on record for many locations, largely skewed by a warm early January. Warm temperatures were the theme for March and April with several days with highs in the 60s and 70s and March 2020 ended up being a Top 10 warmest March for several locations. While an early spring warm spell would normally end the snow threat, a cold spell around Mother’s Day weekend allowed for some light snow in the Snow Belt region and resulted in some of the latest accumulating snowfall on record.
The winter of 2019-2020 in eastern Ohio was relatively benign when compared to past seasons. Overall, the winter was warmer and slightly wetter than normal, but snowfall was decidedly below average. In fact, Coshocton recorded its lowest seasonal snowfall total (4.6 inches) since the winter of 1997-1998. Memorable winter weather events were hard to come by.
One minor event occurred in December, during the 16th and 17th. as an initial shortwave ahead of a trough over the central CONUS crossed the region. Snow fell initially, with accumulations of 1 to 3 inches reported by the morning hours. However, a mix with freezing rain occurred as a warm layer developed aloft. Generally light freezing rain accumulations of a tenth of an inch or less were reported, with the most notable icing occurring in Columbiana County.
Another minor winter weather episode was noted on January 18th. An influx of warm and moist air above the surface during the morning of January 18th created mixed precipitation and snow for some areas as low pressure dug over the Great Plains. Snow totals generally were in the range of 1 to 3 inches in eastern Ohio, with some minor icing. The ODOT garage in Coshocton County measured 4 inches of snow from this event.
February ended up having a more active winter weather pattern. On February 7th, low pressure developed along a nearly stationary boundary draped across the Central Appalachians, and then lifted across the Mid-Atlantic states. The storm system brought rain initially on the 6th, but cold air filled in quickly behind the departing surface low during the nighttime hours, leading to a brief period of mixed precipitation, and then finally a change to all snow. Snow was most widespread during the morning hours, before tapering to more scattered snow showers during the afternoon. Snowfall rates were sufficient to produce several inches of accumulation across much of the forecast area. This system ended up being the most significant winter storm of the 2019-2020 season. Two to five inches of snow accumulation were reported across eastern Ohio, with Mount Pleasant recording the highest accumulations.
Another notable system followed on the 12th and 13th. Low pressure rode up the Ohio Valley during the nighttime and early morning hours of February 12th. An unusually moist air mass combined with favorable storm dynamics to produce widespread precipitation across the region. The heaviest rainfall was observed south of I-70, where totals of around an inch fell on nearly saturated ground. This led to several instances of flooded roads and landslides across portions of eastern Ohio, with Noble County seeing several roads closed. Further north, where warm air was unable to fully penetrate, accumulating snow was observed. Reports of three inches of snow were received from Columbiana County. This ended up being the last winter weather event of note for the relatively quiet 2019-2020 winter season.
The winter of 2019-2020 was yet another very warm, wet, and snowless season across southeast Ohio relative to normals. Average temperature ended up around 4 degrees above normal which ranked as the 8th warmest winter on record. Total precipitation for the season ranged from 12 to 14 inches resulting in 140 to 150 percent of normal across the area. Depending on location in southeast Ohio, this ranked anywhere from the 11th to 13th wettest winter on record. An overwhelming majority of the precipitation did not translate to snowfall as the area received only 20 to 30 percent of normal amounts during the season. Snowfall totals varied considerably depending on proximity to the Ohio River. Amounts varied from 2 inches near the river to 7 to 9 inches further north into Vinton, Perry and Morgan Counties.
The month of December contributed to the overall warmth of the season while also accounting for a significant proportion of excess seasonal precipitation primarily in the form of rain. Temperatures were generally warm the first 7 to 10 days of the month with some lower 60s observed at the beginning of the month. A cold snap developed in the second week with temperatures several degrees below normal. This was followed by a more significant cold air intrusion to begin the third week when temperatures were -12 to -16 degrees below normal. Highs struggled to reach the mid 30s with lows in the middle teens. The cold did not last as much warm air overspread the area the last week of the month with widespread lower to mid 60s observed for highs, making for a very mild end to the year. Rainfall was sporadic throughout the month, though a strong weather system brought 2 to 3 inches of rain in mid-December along the Ohio River which resulted in flooding of creeks and streams. Main stem rivers remained out of flood however. Another system brought a little over an inch of rain across the area during around the end of the month. There was snow observed, though most if not all occurred from one weather system, the same one that gave significant rain in mid-December along the Ohio River. Generally 2 to 3 inches of snow fell across locations well away from the Ohio River.
January was a continuation of warmth with very little snow observed during the month. Precipitation amounts were slightly above normal for the month. The year began where 2019 ended with warmth across the area. This warmth increased in magnitude in the second week with temperatures surging into the 60s and 70s with locations along the Ohio River reaching the upper 70s. This resulted in numerous record daily highs as well as some all-time monthly daily records. Monthly average temperatures ended up around 7.5 degrees above normal. Some cooler air finally made inroads into the region the latter half of the month with temperatures much closer to normal. Rainfall was once again sporadic, though a few wet systems resulted in rainfall amounts close to an inch. The greatest monthly amounts were in the upper portions of the region where amounts ended up over 1.5 inches above normal. The record warmth during the month unsurprisingly led to no measurable snowfall across the region leading to several records set for least snowiest January.
February saw more typical temperatures, though still 1.5 to 2 degrees above normal amid another wet month. Snowfall actually ended up close to normal, bucking the trend of the previous two months. The first half of the month was slightly below average with a notable cold air intrusion mid-month resulting in a few days 10-15 degrees below normal. Temperatures primarily stayed in the 20s during the day, falling back to the upper single digits and lower teens. Thereafter, a variable temperature trend was noted with large swings likely a result of a fast upper level pattern. It was yet another wet month with 155 percent of normal precipitation observed. Monthly observations of 4 to close to 5 inches were common across the area. The first half of the month end up much wetter than the latter half. Several weather systems crossed with some snow but primarily heavy rainfall, particularly mid-month where 2” rainfall amounts were observed. This resulted in large creek flooding along with strong rises on main stem rivers. The middle Ohio River reached minor flood stage at several locations bordering West Virginia. As mentioned snowfall for the month actually was close to average. Much of the snow fell from one weather system at the end of the first week with generally 2” observed. Another system provided 2" to 3" across the northern portions of southeast Ohio.