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Snowy January of 1804

     Heavy snow began to fall in west central Indiana on January 21, 1804 and continued without interruption until night of the 23rd.  By that time, snow on the ground had become two feet deep.  Morning of the 23rd found the snow depth at Poland, Trumbull County, Ohio to exceed two feet after a day and night of heavy snowfall.

 

October Snow of 1805

     Snow began falling in west central Indiana during the afternoon of October 25, 1805 and continued snowing the next day.  At Fort Wayne, Indiana, the snowfall reached a foot in depth.  Meanwhile in northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, the weather became cold and stormy on the 24th with snow much of the day.  Morning of the 27th found snow depths of around 3 inches in this area.

 

Snowy, Cold Spring of 1807

     Vincennes, Indiana recorded a snowfall of 11 inches at the end of March in 1807, while in Tuscarawas County, Ohio there was snow on the 30th and 31st of that month with a total depth of 5 inches on the 31st.  A northeast snowstorm yielded 3 more inches on April 2 and 3.  At Annville, Oneida County, New York snow depth on April 1 of 1807 ranged between 4.5 and 5 feet.  As if this were not enough, May proved to be quite a cold month with temperatures in Tuscarawas County, Ohio down to 19 degrees on May 3 and 29 on the 19th.  There was just one morning with a temperature above freezing during the period of May 7-12.  In some northern sections, remains of snowdrifts were still to be seen in May.  Ice was floating in the Niagara River June 4, and the last ice was not out of  the harbor at Buffalo, New York until June 6.

 

Snowy February in 1818

     Snowflakes began to fly on the heels of a northeast wind at Marietta, Washington County, Ohio sometime during the night of February 2-3, and snow continued to fall for 12 hours.  During that time 26 inches of snow fell at that location.  Although snowfall in such quantities did not reach into northern Ohio from this storm, Hudson in Summit County, Ohio did have a snow cover of 20 inches that month.

 

October Snow of 1862

     Winter came early to the Buckeye State in 1862.  Morning of October 26 of that year found between two and four inches of snow covering the ground at Zanesville, Muskingum County.  Since the ground was still quite warm, however, the snow was reduced to slush on the roads by noon of that day, and all of it was gone by the 27th.

 

Heavy Snows of 1863

     January 14-15, 1863 saw one of the heaviest snows ever to fall at Cincinnati, Hamilton County Ohio.  The "Great Snow" began falling on January 14, 1863.  It was preceded by 16 hours of rain at Cincinnati.  This was then followed by sleet and finally snow.  Morning of the 15th saw a foot of snow on the ground.  By noon, the snowfall total had reached 18 inches.  Almost two feet of snow had fallen by 4:00 p.m., and when the snow ended at 9:00 p.m., the total snowfall was approximately 30 inches.  Average snow depth on the ground was over 20 inches.  Street railways in Cincinnati were brought to a halt by the heavy wet snow, and snow was shoveled off the suspension bridge to prevent its collapse.

     Snowfall from this storm totaled 12.50 inches at Urbana, Champaign County, and the water content came to 1.36 inches.  Reports as of 8:00 p.m. on the 18th had Dayton (Montgomery County) at 16 inches with heavy snow still falling.  Springfield (Clark County) reported a foot of snow with light snow still falling.  Columbus (Franklin County) had received between 16 and 18 inches, and the snow had ceased there.  Crestline in Crawford County had a foot of snow at 8:00 p.m. of the 15th, and heavy snow was falling there.  Snow was falling at Wilmington where 26 inches lay on the ground. However, Portsmouth in Scioto County only received 9 inches of snow for the entire month of January, 1863, indicating that the low pressure system which caused the snow must have come up the Ohio Valley in such a way as to keep Portsmouth mostly in the warmer air.  Indeed, Barnesville in Belmont County (southeastern Ohio) was in the milder air most of the time, as that location reported freezing rain on the 14th and 15th. 

     Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) also had a light January total with just 18 inches having apparently been outside the area of heavy snow from the 14th-15th.  Yet Medina in Medina County had a total January snowfall of 26.5 inches.  The heavy snow at Medina caused the roof of the ice house and military barracks to collapse along with the roof of another building, but there were no serious injuries.  Business there was suspended due to the January 14-15 heavy snow.

     In Indiana, snowfall totals as of 8:00 p.m. on the 15th were: Terre Haute, 6 inches with heavy snow still falling; Greensburg, 13 inches and heavy snow still falling; and Madison, 18 inches with light snow.  Snowfall in much of Indiana generally ranged between 6 and 24 inches from this storm.

     Another good snow, though not nearly so great as that in January, hit Cincinnati and other sections of Ohio on February 5, 1863.  Totals at various Cincinnati locations ranged from 8.3 inches to 14 inches with one person there reporting 9.5 inches of snow from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. that day while temperatures hovered between 30 and 34 degrees all day.  Urbana in Champaign County got 8.25 inches from February 5-6.  College Hill in Cincinnati reported 5 inches more snow on February 22.  Cleveland received 18.6 inches of snow for the entire month of February, 1863 and 14 inches more in March of that year.  Seasonal snowfall for 1862-1863 came to 80.6 inches at Medina and a whopping 103.5 inches at Millersburg in Holmes County.

 

Cold and Snow of October, 1869

     Very cold weather for the month of October struck Ohio during the latter part of that month.  More than one day saw temperatures as low as 15 and 20 degrees.  Apples froze on the trees, and even the laying of bricks was brought to a halt.  A heavy snowstorm for the time of year hit northwestern sections of Ohio on the 23rd of the month.  In the Defiance (Hancock County) area, both ornamental and fruit trees were so weighted down by the heavy, wet snow that many branches and trees were broken.  A number of the younger orchards were totally destroyed by the snowstorm.

 

Extraordinary Snowfall in January, 1878

     The last day of January, 1878 provided a record-setting weather event.  The Cleveland (Cuyahoga County, Ohio) Plain Dealer reported that in the three hours between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m., 20 inches of snow fell, while J. A. Hyde of Cleveland reported 22 inches of snow at Cleveland in 17 hours with 18 inches coming in 8 hours.  Hyde measured 4 inches in 20 minutes when the snowfall was at its height.  Snowfall 1 to 2 feet deep was reported in an area from Indianapolis, Indiana to Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.  Almost all trains through Cleveland were stopped by the snow, and some trains became stalled.  Snow plows were put on streetcars, but most of the streetcars came to a standstill late in the morning.

 

           

                                     Weather Map 7:00 a.m. March 30, 1881.

 

Snowfall of March 28-31, 1881

     Monday evening, March 28, 1881 snow began to fall in northern Ohio, while rain fell in the southern part of the state but changed to snow in the very early morning hours of the 29th as a low pressure center moved straight west to east across southern Kentucky and into Virginia.  At Millersburg, Holmes County, Ohio, the snow continued to fall for 66 consecutive hours until noon on Thursday, the 31st.  By that time, the wet snow was 16 inches deep.  However, snow began to fall again during the evening of the 31st, and some snow fell each day thereafter until April 7.  Average depth of the snow at its deepest was two feet.

     Meanwhile, snow fell steadily for 48 consecutive hours at Marion, Marion County, and it reached a depth of 18 inches there by 4:30 p.m. of the 30th with snow still falling steadily.  Wooster, Wayne County, reported a total snowfall from this storm of 17 inches, but West Salem, in northwestern Wayne County reported an uninterrupted snowfall for 70 hours with a total depth of two feet on a level.

     By 2:30 p.m. of March 30, 1881, Cleveland in Cuyahoga County reported a foot of snow with strong winds blowing the still falling snow into drifts.  That city also reported a total storm snowfall of two feet.  Sidney, Shelby County, had two feet of snow on the 30th with much drifting.  Bellefontaine, Logan County, received a total of 34 inches of snow from the storm, and Galion, Crawford County, had three feet of snow on the ground by the 31st.  In one county after another businesses closed as roads became impassable.  All street railroads ceased running in Columbus by evening of the 29th when 10 inches of snow was on the ground there with more falling.

     This snowstorm raged throughout Indiana, Ohio and most of Kentucky.  Birds sought shelter in barns and sheds, and women fed them bread crumbs to keep them alive.

 

May Snow of 1883

     Snow fell throughout most of Ohio on May 21, 1883, though Dayton (Montgomery County) had a cold, heavy rain which destroyed much fruit, and Cincinnati (Hamilton County) had a steady, cold north wind.  At Upper Sandusky (Wyandot County) this snowfall was heavier than any during the winter.  Entire orchards were almost totally destroyed due to the weight of the snow which broke down many branches.  There was good sleighing at Toledo (Lucas County) with snow still falling, and Lima (Allen County) reported a foot of snow with trees breaking under its weight.  At Ottawa (Putnam County), 15 inches of snow was on the ground with snow still falling.  Streets there were nearly impassable due to fallen trees and limbs.

     Between 2 and 15 inches of snow was common in northwestern sections of the state, and eastern Lower Michigan also shared in this storm.  The cold weather which followed in the wake of the snowstorm dropped midnight temperatures in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas into the 60's.

 

Christmas Snow of 1890

     Heavy snow blanketed the Ohio Valley on Christmas Day, 1890.  Snow began falling at Cincinnati (Hamilton County) at 5:00 a.m. that morning and continued for 20 hours.  Snow reached a depth of 7 inches there, and the wind whipped this snow into drifts which stalled horse-drawn snowplows many times.  This snowstorm was general throughout the Ohio Valley and gave the greatest depth there since the winter of 1855-56.

 

                             Snowstorm of April, 1901

 

  Weather Map for 8:00 a.m., April 20, 1901.

The low pressure area responsible for the heavy snow of April 19-21, 1901

was centered over the North Carolina-Virginia border.

 

On April 16, 1901, a low pressure area formed in south-central and southeastern Arizona.  It moved into central Texas on the 17th, and 8:00 a.m. (Eastern Time) of the 18th found this low located on the Mississippi-Alabama border with a projected track to the east.  However, the low moved slightly to the northeast and was sitting over central Georgia by 8:00 a.m. of the 19th.  A solid but irregular band of precipitation stretched from southern Ontario and Quebec, Canada as far south as Cuba.  Most of the precipitation was in the form of rain except in central and eastern Ohio, extreme northwestern Pennsylvania and extreme northwestern New York where snow was falling.  The low was forecast to move to the east-northeast.

     Instead of moving east-northeast, the low turned straight northeast and was centered over North Carolina and Virginia by 8:00 a.m. of the 20th.  Precipitation was falling from central Georgia to southern Ontario and from west-central Ohio eastward far out into the Atlantic Ocean.  The low was still in Virginia the next morning and was forecast to move northwestward into West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania as a large, blocking high pressure system south of Newfoundland prevented the low from moving straight up the Atlantic Coast.  Precipitation was occurring from northern Georgia to Quebec and from central Indiana, where it was in the form of snow, to the Atlantic.

     In Wayne County, Ohio snow began to fall before dawn of April 19, continued for 36 consecutive hours, took a short break, and then began falling heavily once more.  At Millersburg, Holmes County, the ground was already coated with snow by dawn of the 19th, and the snow continued, occasionally mixed with rain, for 48 consecutive hours.  In Sugarcreek, Tuscarawas County, snow began falling during the night of the 18th and continued without interruption until evening of the 20th.  At Gratiot in Licking County, snow fell without intermission for 56 hours, and either rain or snow fell for 78 consecutive hours at Huntington, West Virginia.

     Cleveland (Cuyahoga County), Dayton (Montgomery County) and Toledo (Lucas County) reported no precipitation at all on April 19, but Wooster (Wayne County) received 5.4 inches of snow that day and Warren (Trumbull County) got 5.5 inches of snow on the 19th.   At Akron-Canton, Summit County, 15.6 inches of snow were measured on the 20th, yielding a water equivalent of 1.56 inches.  This snowfall set a record at the time for the greatest 24-hour snowfall there.  Warren measured an additional 30 inches of snow on the 20th, while Green Hill (Columbiana County) received 28 inches of snow in 36 hours.  Snow was three feet deep in the rail yards at Alliance (Stark County) by afternoon of the 20th, and three trains, one of which was the mail train, became buried in the snow between Stark Siding and Alliance.  There were a number of places in several counties where neither mailmen nor horses could get through the snow.

     Farther south, eastern Kentucky had a 14 inch covering of snow on April 20, while 15 inches was reported in the mountains of West Virginia.  Only five inches had fallen in the Ohio valley.  Temperatures hovered near or above the freezing mark throughout the entire event over much of Ohio.  As an example, the temperature at Wooster in Wayne County was 32 degrees at 8:00 p.m. on the 19th, and it was still there at 7:00 a.m. on the 20th.  As a result, the snow was quite wet and heavy.  Tree branches broke under the weight of the snow, resulting in much damage to fruit at Buffalo, New York.  The weight of the snow also broke down miles of telephone wires.  In fact, out of over 100 telephone wires between Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York, there was not so much as one working early on the 20th.

     As if the snow were not enough by itself, winds became quite strong on the 20th, as well.  Telephone and telegraph wires at Cleveland went down in all directions as winds gusted up to 55 mph from the north.  All railroad traffic east of Cleveland was delayed by anywhere from two to seven hours as a result of the snowstorm.  A snow blockade between Salem (Columbiana County) and Massillon (Stark County), Ohio on the Fort Wayne Railroad had trains halted for 24 hours beginning during the morning of April 20.

     By the time the storm ended, snowfall was 14 inches deep on a level southwest of Wooster, but drifts there were 8 feet deep.  In much of Holmes County, snow was around three feet deep on a level, while it was between two and four feet deep in the Sugarcreek, Tuscarawas County area.  Drifts in that area, however, ranged between 8 and 15 feet deep.  In a number of localities, the mail could not be delivered on the 22nd.  The road between Benton and Millersburg (both in Holmes County) was opened on the 22nd by a large number of men from Benton, while a crew of 44 men from Mt. Hope using teams of horses opened the Mt. Hope (also in Holmes County) to Benton road on the 23rd.

     In areas of the heaviest snow, the weight may have exceeded 30 pounds for every square foot, and where the snow drifted, its weight may have reached 70 pounds per square foot.  Such a heavy snow load caused numerous roofs to collapse.  American Sheet Steel at Niles (Trumbull County) had the roofs of four of its mills cave in due to the heavy snow load.  Workmen were kept busy shoveling snow off roofs to prevent their collapse.  A report from Warsaw, Coshocton County, noted that numerous cattle and sheep were killed when the roofs of sheds caved in on them under the weight of the snow.

     When the snowstorm ended at Cleveland, dense fog rolled in - so dense that "it was almost impossible to see from one side of a street to the other."  Winds were strong on the 20th as far south as Atlanta, Georgia where they hit speeds of 56 mph.  Wires were downed there, and damage was done to gardens.

     Flooding was prevalent in many areas where rain, rather than snow, had fallen.  In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, damage from flooding ran between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000, and 50,000 workers were idled.  Railroad communications with Wheeling, West Virginia were cut off completely.  The bottom land of Mill Creek Valley at Cincinnati (Hamilton County) was flooded by backwater from the Ohio River, and the western section of Cincinnati was also flooded as the Ohio continued to rise 6 inches an hour on the 22nd with the crest expected to hit 56 feet.  At Huntington, West Virginia, the 50 foot danger line was passed on the 22nd with the Ohio River still rising 3.9 inches an hour.  Great damage due to flooding occurred in central and southern parts of West Virginia.

     In Guyandotte, West Virginia, all the log booms were carried away by the flood waters, and the mountain streams in Kentucky also did much damage to timber.  The lower part of the business district at Parkersburg, West Virginia was under water, and water was more than a foot deep on the 22nd in buildings along the river at Pomeroy, Meigs County, Ohio.  In Scioto County, the people of New Boston were living in tents.  Meanwhile, the Ohio River at Maysville, Kentucky rose 11 feet in 24 hours on the 22nd, and a "blinding snowstorm" had been in progress.  Trains from the east were running four to six hours behind schedule.

     Although nearly all of the record-breaking snow in Ohio had melted by the end of the month, one farmer at Trail (Holmes County), Ohio was able to keep his water jug cool while plowing in May by sticking it in a snowdrift left over from this storm.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1-2006 Ronald Hahn. All Rights Reserved