February weather roller coaster continues

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The weather has exhibited wild swings lately, even by Ohio standards.

The latest in a series of Pacific storms brought a soaking rain the past two days (1 to 2 inches). Flood warnings continue for the Scioto River in Pickaway and Pike counties until Friday, and for the Hocking River at Enterprise until Wednesday, where minor flooding is expected.

Columbus has already received 4 inches of rain in the first 12 days of February — the normal rainfall for the entire month is 2.25 inches in our driest month of the year on average. 

A strong low-pressure area passing north of the state will bring windy conditions, and a wind advisory is in effect until Wednesday morning. In the wake of the storm, cold air will rush back in tonight, accompanied by snow showers that could leave a light accumulation and slippery spots for the early commute tomorrow.

The pattern this month has been a true roller coaster ride, to say the least.

The retreating polar vortex on Groundhog Day — on the heels of the heaviest snow in Columbus (5 to 6 inches) in nearly four years — gave way to springlike warmth and flooding rains last week.

The temperature soared 50 degrees in 30 hours, and eventually surpassed 60, setting a daily record on Feb. 7 (62 degrees) . The southeastern tip of Ohio flirted with 70. The unseasonable warmth spawned a rare winter tornado in northwestern Clark County that day, which traveled 7 miles and caused minor property damage.

A mild Pacific flow and a surge of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico brought heavy rain and flooding. Central and southern Ohio received 2 to 4 inches of rain (6 to 8 inches since early January), falling on saturated soil. 

Then the thermometer readings plunged 40 degrees, ushering winter back into Ohio over the weekend, capped off by a fresh 2 to 3 inches of snow Sunday evening.

Compared to the Northeast, Upper Midwest and late the Pacific Northwest, central Ohio has been on the fringe of the heaviest snowfalls, with the storm track swinging north of the region, limiting the availability of cold air.

Yet even Maui, in the Hawaiian Islands, saw snow at a record low elevation of 6,200 feet in Polipoli State Park early Monday!

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