Interesting Weather Information

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Ohio River Flood of 1937

January, 1937 was the wettest month in Cincinnati history with 13.68" of rain. Heavy rains were common during the second and third weeks of January, 1937 all over the Ohio River Basin and most of the Ohio River drainage area had precipitation totals 300% to 400% of normal.
This resulted in the most devastating flood in Ohio River history. In Cincinnati the river was above flood stage for 431 consecutive hours and at the record setting crest OF 80' above datum (i.e. the reference level) for 8 hours.

I plotted hourly river stages for you through the high water episode and re-drew a map from the FEB 1937 issue of "Monthly Weather Review" showing the heavy rain area.
In addition I graphed the highest and lowest river stages for each year from 1858 - 2014 and illustrated some highlights.

Note when the Markland Dam went into operation. Contrary to popular myth the dam system on the Ohio River is to control low water levels and keep the river navigable and not for flood control.

Reds Pitcher Gene Schott - left - and Lee Grissom boating in Crosley Field
John Roebling Suspension Bridge, Jan 26, 1937.
John Roebling Suspension Bridge, Jan 26, 1937.
Cumminsville - The ramp is from Central Parkway.

Rainfall, amount and percent of normal, January 1937. Monthly Weather Review, Feb. 1937
Simplified version of map above. Steve Horstmeyer

Graph of data above - Hourly Stages of the Ohio River at Cincinnati. Steve Horstmeyer

High and Low Ohio River Stages at Cincinnati 1858 - 2014. Steve Horstmeyer

The Great Blizzard of 1978

From WED JAN 25 through FRI JAN 27, 1978 the Great Blizzard of '78 visited - or should I say pummeled - Cincinnati.
On the 25th the high was 37 with 0.84" of rain soaking the soil and everything else. It changed to very heavy wet snow that evening and overnight and as the temperature plummeted to -1° by dawn on the 26th. The slushy snow froze solid and more snow fell on top of it. The official snow total was 6.9".
I lived in Silverton, OH at the time and we had 3"- 4" of solid ice with an inch or two of snow on top. No one could really tell how much fell because wind gusts were as high as 50 mph, blowing the snow into 4 feet high drifts and sweeping other areas clear of snow.

The death toll was high: Indiana - 11, Kentucky - 5 and Ohio 51. Twenty-two of those either froze to death or died of hypothermia when trying to walk from stranded cars.
Meteorologists say a storm like this "bombed" - meaning rapid explosive development and the very low pressure set new record low values across Ohio. In fact the pressure at Cleveland was the lowest outside of a hurricane in the continental U.S. for years.
The barometric pressure graph I plotted from hourly data at CVG. The photos (in order CVG, Eden park, I-275 at Exit 84 in NKY and a store front in Covington) are courtesy of the Kenton County Public Library and the weather maps are from NOAA.

Clearing Snow at CVG

Eden Park

I-275 N. Kentucky near Exit 84.

All Maps at 7AM the day indicated.

Covington store front.

Hourly pressure at CVG by Steve Horstmeyer.