Are We Done With Cold And Accumulating Snow? History Suggests “Probably Not”

As mid-March nears and snow rapidly melts, biometeorology does what it does best in the spring: get us focused on warmer weather. Signs of spring, however, rarely stick their landing in Cincinnati. Winter and spring always fight in March, April, and even May. Spring always wins the war, but winter usually takes a couple of battles.

Historically, the Queen City gets at least one more round of snow between March 9th and the summer. Many of you remember the 0.6″ of snowfall accumulation on April 15th, 2014 that allowed us to gain a rank towards the snowiest cold season on record. On average, 2.6″ of snow accumulates in the next 90 days, but some springs are snowier than others:

may8-snowfallleft

The average listed above is a 30-year average (1981-2010). Since 1893, there have been 17 years without accumulating snow on our after this date and during the spring. The other 105 years had at least 0.1″ of accumulation.

In the last 144 years, 5 of them had 12″+ of snowfall accumulation between March 9th and July 1st; 21 years had 6″ or more, and 41 years had 3″ or more. Here are the greatest snowfall totals from this date through the summer:

may8-bigsnowfall

1937 (listed above) was a stand out year for weather in Cincinnati. The Ohio River at Cincinnati had it’s all time crest on January 26, 1937 at 80′ thanks to 7.25″ of precipitation in the 6 days before the crest. 2.64″ of rainfall was recorded on January 14th of that year. 6″ of snow fell on January 22nd and 23rd, 1937. While the flooding was far more extreme in 1937, the setup was nearly the same as the last week: waves of rain and snow that melted saturated the ground and eventually caused the river to spill out of its banks. Later in the year, 4″ of snow accumulated on March 10th and another 9″ accumulated on March 13th and 14th.

This is all a reminder that it could be much worse.

As you might expect, the odds of accumulating snow drop each month from March through May:

may8-averagesnow

While the average snowfall total for May in Cincinnati rounds to 0.0″, snow has accumulated during May in Cincinnati. A trace of snow was recorded on May 11th, 1966 at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. 0.2″ of snow accumulated in Cincinnati on May 6, 1989. A total of 0.5″ of snow has accumulated in the Queen City on ALL May days since official snowfall records began in 1893.

As the angle of the sun gets higher through the spring, the likelihood of brutal cold decreases. The temperature has only dropped below 0° 3 days during March since 1871, but one of those days had a low of -11°. Temperatures in the mid to upper teens are rare in April, and temperatures in the 20s are rare in May:

may8-coldesttemps

Winter will lose its grip gradually in the next 3 months. Long range models suggest the next 10 days will be mild, but below average-temperature are forecast to return for late March and early April.

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