Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Historic Toledo Winter!

This may certainly be the epic winter that you brag about and tell the grandkids stories decades from now.  The winter of 1977-1978 and this historic blizzard has long stood as the benchmark for some of harshest winter weather ever experienced in Ohio. Many have asked, "Which winter was worse"?  What records did this winter break and was it the worst winter in Toledo's history?

Let's take a look...

Many measure the harsh reality of winter by the amount of snow.  Nothing will throw a community into mass hysteria running for the bread and milk like a good old fashioned snowstorm.  The winter was second to none when measured by snow fall.  The month of March has only added to the already record breaking snowfall.  

The seasonal total for this winter is a smashing 84.8" of snow blowing past the previous record winter of 1977-1978 which had 73.1".  This puts the winter of 2013-2014 nearly a foot of snow above the long standing previous winter snowfall record! 

The relentless nature of storm after storm demoralized the area into unconditional surrender.  Here is a list of some of the notable snowstorms:

  • December 14th:            7.4"
  • January 1-2nd               9.2"
  • January 5-6th                13.0"
  • February 4-5th              8.4"
  • February 16-17th          5.0"
  • March 12th                   7.0" 
While none of these snowstorms on an individual note could match the blizzard in January of 1978, the overall weather pattern this year was conducive to more frequent, and still crippling snowstorms. The average snowfall during an entire winter season would be closer to 36".  Take a look at how the nearly 85" of snow could compare! 

Snow is only part of the story, the extreme cold was also took a frosty bite into the area.  This winter was the 5th coldest winter on record in Toledo history.  Records date back to 1873.  Wind chills in early January plummeted to levels rarely seen in Northwest Ohio with readings to -45° Below Zero.  The extreme cold once again froze the area and nearly froze time bringing the area to a sheltered standstill. 

The coldest winter on record remains 1977-1978 which had an average temperature (Dec/Jan/Feb) of 17.72°.

This winter also saw the 2nd greatest Ice Cover in the Great Lakes in recorded history.  Total ice cover reached 92.2% in early March.

Other miscellaneous stats and records include the following:
25 days below zero
9 days of new record cold
1st -- Snowiest January on record (40.2")
6th -- Coldest January on record
7th -- Snowiest February on record
7th -- Coldest February on record
5th -- Coldest winter on record (Dec/Jan/ Feb)
1st -- Snowiest winter season on record
2nd -- Highest Great Lakes Ice Cover
-46 Below Zero Wind Chill

Which winter was worse?  The infamous 1977-1978 winter or this latest severe winter blast?  My research proves that this winter was unmatched by any winter in Toledo's history for snowfall.  While it wasn't the coldest, it was very close to the extreme end of cold. This winter did not have a singular event that could match the blizzard in January of 1978, however the greater frequency of storms proved to be extremely harsh and relentless on the area.  It is fair to argue for either case, a lot of it depends on how it may have impacted you if you lived through both winters.  It is safe to say the Blizzard of 1978 still stands a the worst winter storm in modern history, but I believe many will argue and remember this winter as the worst ever experienced by anyone living today in Toledo!