By 1812Blockhouse; National Weather Service

It’s only been a few days since the remarkable weather took place as Christmas neared last month. With some more seasonal temperatures in place, it seems a good vantage point to look back and gain some perspective on The Christmas Storm of 2022.

The storm had a name, of course. Winter Storm Elliott was one for the record books.

As shared by the National Weather Service office in Cleveland, the high-impact, multi-hazard storm system impacted much of the United States which resulted in extreme cold, high winds, and hazardous conditions from blowing and drifting snow. Actual temperatures fell from as high as 40 degrees Thursday night ahead of the cold front to near 0 or even sub-zero by Friday morning, resulting in any rain remaining on the ground immediately freezing.

Wind chills across the NWS Cleveland region bottomed out as low as -30°F to -35°F on Dec 23 (Friday and Friday night) while winds gusted as high as hurricane-force (74 mph) at one point along the Lake Erie shoreline. The extreme cold continued through the Christmas weekend, with persistent sub-zero wind chills and gusty winds.

Although snow amounts were nothing out of the ordinary, ranging from generally 2 to 4 inches across the area, the gusty winds and the fluffy, dry nature of the snow allowed for efficient blowing and drifting, resulting in greatly-reduced visibility at times, especially on Dec 23 (Friday morning and afternoon). The blowing snow also resulted in blizzard conditions across parts of northern Ohio and northwestern PA, including in Cleveland and Erie.

This was the first Blizzard Warning the Cleveland office had issued in nearly 10 years. 

Actual recorded conditions:

Total Snow Accumulation in Richland County, 12/23 to 12/24

  • NNE of Shelby            6.0   900 AM 12/24  Trained Spotter        
  • ENE of Mansfield         4.0   800 AM 12/24  Community Volunteer               
  • ENE of Lexington         3.5   700 AM 12/24  Community Volunteer               
  • W of Mansfield           3.0   945 AM 12/24  Trained Spotter        
  • NW of Lexington          2.5   800 AM 12/24  Community Volunteer              
  • NW of Mifflin            2.1   730 PM 12/23  Trained Spotter        
  • WSW of Mansfield         2.0  1100 AM 12/23  Community Volunteer               

While all of the area saw periods of reduced visibility due to snow and blowing snow, the most prolonged and widespread blizzard conditions occurred in parts of northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, with conditions most severe in the lakeshore counties. In particular, Port Clinton, Lorain County, Cleveland Hopkins, Burke Lakefront, Lost Nation, and Erie airports saw a prolonged period of visibility at or below 1/4 of a mile due to falling and blowing snow. A few other sites, including Findlay, Akron-Canton and Youngstown-Warren airports also saw these conditions for at least 3 hours, though these conditions did not last as long as they did at some sites closer to Lake Erie. 

Highest Wind Gusts in Richland County:

  • Mansfield                    47 MPH    1034 AM 12/23   40.82N/82.52W        
  • Shelby                       40 MPH    0406 PM 12/23   40.89N/82.66W

Image by Hans from Pixabay

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