Know Ohio: Historic Ohio Weather

In Ohio, they say if you don’t like the weather, just wait around and it’s bound to change! That because the Buckeye State experiences the full spectrum of weather extremes – everything from blizzards to heat waves. Up next, Know Ohio correspondent Mary Fecteau tells us about some of the most memorable weather events in Ohio.

If your Christmas dinner this year turned out to be a barbeque and a picnic, you won’t be surprised to hear that Ohio just experienced an unseasonably warm December. Although Christmas Day wasn’t quite warm enough to break any records, Christmas Eve 2015 shattered many high temperature records in the state. The previous high temperatures for December 24th in parts of Cleveland and Cincinnati were set all the way back in 1933.

Here in the Buckeye state, we’re lucky to have all four seasons – and we’ve seen some incredible weather extremes. Ohio and the rest of the United States began officially recording temperatures and weather patterns in 1870 when the National Weather Service was established. So we have weather records that go back over 145 years.

But you don’t have to go back very far to remember one of the coldest winters. I for one am still thawing out after last February, which was the coldest on record in much of Northeast Ohio. We saw a lot of snowfall last winter too, but it simply does not compare to what Ohioans experienced in January of 1978.

It’s been called the White Hurricane or the Cleveland Superbomb -- and for good reason. The Blizzard of ‘78 was possibly the worst storm to ever hit the Buckeye State. Over the course of 3 days, twenty-one inches of snow buried Northeast Ohio – and wind gusts of nearly 100 miles per hour created large snow drifts that shut down just about every major road.

But it was during earlier blizzard, in 1899, that Ohio hit its lowest recorded temperature: a frigid -39 degrees was recorded in Milligan, Ohio. That’s about 25 degrees colder than your average freezer.

But enough about the cold – let’s turn up the heat! I bet a heat wave sounds pretty good right about now, but in the summer of 1934 it was just too hot to handle. During that year, June, July, and August saw the highest average temperatures ever. It culminated in the single highest temperature ever recorded in our state: a balmy 113 degrees, which was recorded in Gallipolis, where our friend Stephanie Jarvis hails from.

WOO! It’s starting to get pretty hot in here…I better toss it back to you, Rick, before I have a meltdown.

Instructional Links

Website: Severe Weather in Ohio

Website Article and Primary Sources: Ohio Memory, Winter Storms, Past and Present

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