There has been no accumulating snowfall so far this season or this month in Cincinnati. Accumulating snowfall is defined as 0.1″ or more at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport where official records are kept. From 1915 to 1947, records for Cincinnati were kept at the Abbe Observatory in Clifton; from 1870 to 1915, records for Cincinnati were taken downtown. Snowfall records before 1893 for Cincinnati are considered unofficial, but I will use them use here.
With the lack of snowfall so far in December, many are wondering if we will see snow or if winter is – essentially – cancelled. Yes, we will see snow before June comes, and no – winter is not cancelled.
At this time, there is no clear window of opportunity to see accumulating snow in Cincinnati for the rest of December. That may change; for now, however, accumulating snow is unlikely in the next two weeks.
Since 1870, there have only been 14 Decembers without accumulating snowfall: 1875, 1877, 1882, 1885, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1908, 1931, 1940, 1941, 1971, 1982, and 2011. Because of the warm, non-snowy start to summer, some are incorrectly assuming that cold and winter will avoid the Tri-State this winter. While this winter overall will likely be warmer, drier, and with less snow than average, there will be bouts of snow and cold through next spring.
In the 145 years where no accumulating snowfall was recorded during December in Cincinnati, there were only 2 (out of 14) without accumulating snowfall in the January that followed:
An average of 4.4″ of snowfall accumulated in the Queen City during January when it failed to accumulate in December.
Of the 14 years in Cincinnati where snow didn’t accumulate during December, there was only one where snow didn’t accumulate in the following February:
The only meteorological winter (December, January, and February) where no accumulating snowfall was recorded in Cincinnati was 1931-1932. Snow, however, did come in March and also in November of 1931.
Since 1870, there has never been a year in Cincinnati where snow didn’t accumulate in the months following a December without accumulating snowfall:
On average, historical records suggests an average of 9.3″ of snowfall accumulates from January to June after a 0.0″ snowfall total for December. Based on these records, accumulating snow is extremely likely in January, February, March, April, May, or a combination of those months even if we make it to the end of 2015 without accumulating snow.
While there is little room for debate on whether we will see snowfall in the coming months, the discussion about when and how much snow will fall is endless. Cincinnati averages 18.1″ of snow each December, January, and February combined and 22.5″ from one summer to the next. For perspective, here are the least snowy June to June periods on record in Cincinnati:
It is important to note that most of the Decembers since 1870 without measurable snowfall came prior to 1915, where weather records were kept in downtown Cincinnati where the urban heat island was strong. This bubble of warmer air near the city center made it more difficult for snow to accumulate.
History suggests snow will return eventually. High temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s this weekend; highs in the 60s and 70s usually come and go quickly in December.