Seasonal snowfall below normal this year for northern Ohio

CLEVELAND - I'm not trying to jinx anything. But I think it's safe to say we are not going to experience any more major snowfalls this month.

So, with our winter season coming to an end (finally), it's time to wrap up the snowfall totals.

Looks like winter 2012-2013 will go down in the record books as a season with below normal snowfall for much of northern Ohio. Cleveland's total of 51.6 inches is a whopping 16 inches below normal.

Akron and Canton did better. Snowfall at the Akron/Canton Regional Airport is just slightly below normal. Summit and Stark counties average about 48 inches of snow per season. This winter, 47 inches has been measured at CAK.

Mansfield's 39 inches of snow this season will keep them about 9 inches below normal. Even Chardon, the snow capital of Ohio, fell short of seasonal snows. Their 102 inches this winter is a few inches shy of the average of 107.5 inches.

Make no mistake: It's been a very snowy year for many of our big U.S. cities. The East Coast from New York through Boston has been pounded by storm after storm. Snow continues to fall across the Dakotas where, last week, they received more than a foot of new snow in many locations.

The snow storms have been memorable. They have just all missed Cleveland this year.

In fact, Cleveland has the distinction of having the greatest snowfall deficit of any major city across the Great Lakes and the Midwest. My friends at WeatherBell.com put together a graphic (photo section above), which shows snow totals this season. Notice the majority of the cities listed have seen above normal snows. For instance, International Falls, Minnesota (INL) has seen about 95 inches of snow this season. That's 26 inches above the norm. Madison, Wisconsin (MSN) is not far behind with 21 inches of extra snow this winter. Even Columbus, Ohio (CMH) has been shoveling. They are 14 inches above their snowfall normal.

So, why the snowfall deficit? Well, timing is everything. Our area gets roughly 50 percent of its snow each season from lake-effect events. Lake effect snow happens when very cold air blows across the warmer waters of our big lake.

Well this year, when the lake was at its warmest, in November, December and January, air temperatures were above normal. There were few blasts of cold air. This effectively shut off many snow events for northern Ohio. By the time the cold air arrived and stayed in February and March, Lake Erie's water temperatures had already cooled. This seriously limited further lake effect snows, except for the higher elevations in the Snow Belt, east of Cleveland.

But remember: Averages are just that. They are a conglomeration of snow-full years and snow-less years. Mother Nature always has a way of evening things out. So I guess I better sharpen my snow shovel for next season.

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