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Governor's Winter Safety Week Resolution
2015-2016 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
The meteorological winter season (December through February) of 2015-2016 was characterized by typical El Niño conditions locally. This includes above normal temperatures, near normal precipitation, and below normal snowfall.
It was a very mild and wet December with record warmth and above normal precipitation. Nearly half of the days in December had a high temperature of at least 50. At Fort Wayne, this December ranked as the warmest on record, surpassing December 1982, which also happened to be a strong El Niño event. There were several periods of rain through the month with very little snowfall. The only winter weather of note was on December 28, when a combination of freezing rain, sleet and gusty winds created scattered power outages and difficult travel across far northwest Ohio.
Temperatures, overall, trended near normal in January, while precipitation and snowfall were slightly below normal. The weather pattern featured a rather progressive and dry pattern with periods of cold and mild weather as any shots of arctic air were brief. There was an Alberta Clipper that brought 1 to 4 inches of snow and blowing snow to the region on January 12. There were no other impactful systems of note during the rest of the month.
February featured above normal temperatures, below normal precipitation, and below normal snow. There were no winter weather events of note during the entire month.
|Fort Wayne IN||Temp Departure||Snow Total||Snow Departure|
|Toledo OH||Temp Departure||Snow Total||Snow Departure|
The Winter of 2015-2016 was influenced by a strong El Niño. This resulted in an unusually warm winter across Northern Ohio with well below normal snowfall. November was mild with temperatures averaging 4-6 degrees above normal but December was a month for the record books. All of the major climate sites had their warmest December ever with average temperatures 10-13 degrees above normal.
Temperatures reached the 70s early in the month. The warm temperatures made getting snow difficult and most locations outside of the Northeast Ohio snowbelt finished the calendar year with less than an inch of snow total.
Temperatures got back to near normal for January but snowfall remained minimal outside of the snow belt. A couple lake effect events occurred during the middle portion of the month. These storms brought 2-3 feet of snow to some parts of Northeast Ohio. Locations west and south of the Cleveland area saw no more than a few inches of snow the entire month.
Mild weather returned for February and March. Temperatures both months averaged a few degrees above normal. For most locations February was the snowiest month of the winter with more than a foot of snow at all of the major sites except Toledo. A few more inches of snow fell in March.
The winter ended with a bang, with a significant snow storm on April 8th and 9th. For most of northern Ohio, this was the biggest storm of year. A swath of 6-10 inches of snow stretched from the Toledo area eastward across the northern end of the state. Many trees were downed by the heavy snow.
Temperatures remained chilly the rest of the month with average temperatures a couple degrees below normal.
Snowfall totals for the season where the lowest in years. Cleveland’s total of 32.8 inches was less than half of the normal of 68.1 inches. Both Mansfield and Toledo failed to reach 30 inches for the season.
Arctic air and strong winds produced wind chills from 10 to more than 20 degrees below zero the morning of February 13 across eastern Ohio.
Low pressure moved north through the Upper Ohio Valley the night of the 15th into the morning of the 17th. A swath of heavy snow fell in a band across Columbiana County, with a general 6 to 12 inches of snow. A lesser band of snow from 2 to 4 inches fell south and west across eastern Ohio from New Philadelphia to Zanesville.
January 22-23: Low pressure lifted northward from the lower Mississippi through the Tennessee Valley with cyclogenesis occurring along the Carolinas. Snow spread across the region late Friday morning, with portions of eastern Ohio on the northern fringe of heavy snow. Six to 8 inches of snow fell across portions of Monroe and Noble counties.
In December, the weather was quite mild with average temperatures around 10 degrees above normal and very little snowfall. Temperatures then became more seasonable in January with most places experiencing average temperatures that were close to or slightly below normal readings. However, arctic air filtered into the region on January 17-18 with high temperatures in the teens and lows in the single digits for a few days.
Monthly snowfall amounts of 10 to 15 inches were common with a storm system on January 22-23 producing much of the snow. With snow on the ground, temperatures were close to zero in many locations the morning of January 24, with some locations actually below zero.
While average temperatures in February were generally slightly above normal, morning low readings were in the single digits or even below zero in the middle of the month. The morning of February 14 was the coldest with readings below zero in many locations. Monthly snowfall averaged 5-10 inches with several storm systems resulting in small amounts of snow. The most snow fell February 8-9, as a cold front and an upper level storm system pushed across the area.
March was quite mild with average temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees above normal. However, cold temperatures and a storm system resulted in up to 2 inches of snow on March 4. This was the only snow that fell in March at most locations. While winter officially ended in March, the combination of cold air and a storm system were enough to produce up to an inch of snow on April 9-10.
Southwest & Central Ohio
The winter of 2015-2016 started off on a very warm and wet note across the region. Persistent zonal flow allowed for a nearly-constant parade of storm systems across the Ohio Valley and inhibited widespread cold air from spilling into the region. Even though the weather pattern resulted in above normal precipitation, the main weather story in December was the unseasonably warm temperatures. For the month as a whole, the region averaged between 11 and 12 degrees above normal. In fact, both Dayton and Columbus recorded their warmest December on record, with Cincinnati finishing with their third warmest on record. Moreover, temperatures only fell into the 20s a handful of times during the month.
Because there was an abundance of warm temperatures, snow was greatly lacking in the area. Most locations received only a trace to a couple of tenths of snow for the entire month. In fact, Cincinnati (trace), Columbus (trace), and Dayton (0.2 inches) finished with second, second, and seventh least snowiest Decembers on record, respectively.
As the calendar flipped to 2016, a more seasonable weather pattern developed for the area. Although there were several warmups in January, there were also several bouts of bitter cold. As a whole, however, January temperatures finished very close to normal values.
There were also several snow events that impacted the region, particularly across parts of southwestern Ohio in the middle of the month. Cincinnati and Columbus officially received their first measurable snow of the season on January 10. Although Cincinnati recorded 8.5 inches for the month, most of the region received less snow that normal in January.
One of the major storm systems that impacted the region in January occurred on the 10th when a very strong cold front moved through the area. Temperatures plummeted from the upper 40s into the 10s in just a matter of hours. Strong winds of 30-40 mph combined with snow showers to create reduced visibilities at times. A more widespread snow event moved across south-central Ohio on the 22nd. This system had a sharp cutoff of snow on the northern periphery, with accumulations ranging from nearly a foot by the Ohio River (in south-central Ohio) to no snow at all along/north of the I-71 corridor.
The up-and-down temperature pattern that developed in January continued into February. This being said, temperatures (on average) were slightly warmer than normal in February.
There were several additional snow events that impacted the region, particularly on the 8th into the 9th, where 4-6 inches fell over a large expanse of southwestern and central Ohio. Another storm system brought light snow to the region on Valentine’s Day, dropping 2-4 inches in parts of southwestern and south-central Ohio.
The winter of 2015-2016 will largely be remembered for the very warm December and the overall lack of snow across parts of west-central and central Ohio. Columbus finished with just 14.5 inches of snow, with Dayton receiving only 10.6 inches of total snowfall. Conversely, with a more active storm track through southwestern Ohio, Cincinnati received a total of 16.9 inches (December through February).