Winter nears record snow, but not record cold so far - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Winter nears record snow, but not record cold so far

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Toledo, OH -

Here are the stats when comparing this winter season to the historic harsh winters of 1976-77 and 1977-78. When it comes to snow we compare in many ways. This winter season will likely beat out 1977-78 for the snowiest month on record. When it comes to seasonal snowfall we are already near 40". If we get the average amount of snow for the rest of the season, that would give us another 21" of snow and put us over 60" for the season. Of course anything is possible, but this ballpark number would put us in between the two historic winters if the trend keeps going. As for the number of 6"+ storms, we have had 3 already this season which is more than 1976-77 and matches 1977-78 and there is the potential we could have more big snowstorms before the winter ends.

Blizzards are the only category where we fall short. While we had blizzard to near blizzard conditions at times on January 5-6th of this year we did not have an all out blizzard for 3+ hours. In 1976-77 we had 1 blizzard and it was nicknamed the arctic blizzard. Not only were temperatures very cold but there really wasn't much snow with this storm at all. Only 3" of snow fell, but there was a snow depth of 8" on the ground. As the temperatures fell a terrible wind came in to the area and that is what caused the problems. The blizzard of 1977 is a classic example of why blizzard means wind and low visibility not heavy snow. Winds gusted between 40 and 60 mph and it created extremely high drifts and shut the area down for days. The blizzard of 1978 can be called the "super blizzard". About a foot of additional snow fell on several inches of snow already on the ground. The winds were sustained between 40 and 50 mph with wind gusts up to 70 mph! The set up was much different than the blizzard in 1977 with a rapidly developing low pressure moving up from the south and slamming into an arctic front from the north. As cliche as it sounds it really was the perfect storm for our area and the storm was the worst since 1918 when a similar type of blizzard hit the area. It is interesting to note that the Blizzard of 1977 occurred on January 28th and the blizzard of 1978 hit on January 26th. Historically, powerful winter storms seem common during the last week of January and the first few days of February.

As for the cold, we don't compare well with the late 1970s, at least not yet. So far we have had 6 days at or below 0 degrees which is also the normal for a given year. In 1976-77 we had 25 days at or below 0 degrees, and during 1977-78 we had 26 days below that mark. Now more sub zero cold is on the way. A couple more days are expected this week, a few more days are expected next week and that still leaves all of February and March to contribute to the numbers before our season is up. A conservative estimate would give us another 5+ 0 degree days yet, but that is still a fair amount off the late 1970s. If you single out January (especially since anything is possible in February yet), then the numbers are a little more interesting to me. The average temperature so far this month is about 19 degrees. January of 1978 was 2.6 degrees colder than this year so far. Looking at the 7-day forecast and the potential for another very strong arctic outbreak during the last week of January, we will probably end up very close to January of 1978 in terms of cold. That would put us close to the 10th coldest January on record if the trend holds. However, look at January of 1977. We may never have another month like it and most would be ok with that. In January of 1977 the average temperature was 9.6 degrees that was it. The warmest it got all month was only 29 degrees! The average high was 17.8 degrees and the average low was 1.4 degrees. The month averaged 16 degrees colder than normal every single day. It was one of the most extreme months in Toledo history and that is one record we won't touch this year, not even close.See More

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