CLEVELAND - The numbers don't lie. The observations don't lie. Winters in Ohio and the United States have gotten colder over the last 10 years. But you sensed that anyway, didn't you? (Especially after this last long, cold winter!)
Meteorologist & colleague Joe D'Aleo, from the website ICECAP.us , took a look at the winter statistics from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). What he found was startling. Since late 2001, the winter months of December, January and February have gotten colder at the second fastest 10-year rate since the late 1800s. On average, all nine official climate regions of the US have seen a wintertime temperature drop of 4.13 degrees F.
Ohio is part of the six-state Central Climate Region. That includes Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. In this region, our temperatures have declined an impressive 5.82 degrees F since the winter of 2001/2002.
The largest decline was seen in the Northern Plains and the Western Great Lakes, where cold-season temperatures have plummeted up to 8.74 degrees F on average over the last 10 winters.
The snow pack across the Northern Hemisphere has also increased during this chilly period. This passed winter produced the third greatest snow extent (in square km) for the Northern Hemisphere since 1967. It finished behind only the winter of 2009/10 and 1977/78 and just ahead of the winter of 2007/08.
"Clearly, natural factors really can pack a punch," said Dr. Joe D'Aleo.
He sited a cooler Pacific Ocean (the cold phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation), a weak solar cycle and volcanic activity as the causes of the cooling.