Spring snows a little different from winter, and more could fall early Friday in the north, after a hard freeze wilts some flowers


COLUMBUS (WCMH)–Snowflakes were flying Wednesday evening across much of Ohio, although not sticking. Northern parts of the state will see the ground covered Friday morning with a blanket of wet snow. air brought another round of freeze warnings Thursday, as temperatures plunged into the mid-20s.

We could see a brief period of snow early Friday in central Ohio around daybreak north of I-70, before a quick changeover to rain, with no accumulation. However, northern portions of central Ohio will see an inch by midday, where the wet snow will linger longer. Farther north, 2 to 4 inches are likely from Lima to Toledo, and on higher terrain along and north of U.S. 30., where a winter weather advisory is in effect until to 2 p.m.

The early morning low in Columbus Thursday dipped to 26 degrees, four degrees above the 1962 and 1935 daily record for Apr. 16. Readings were as low as 22 in Lancaster, 23 in Dublin, and 24 in London, causing some damage to vulnerable flowers.

Daffodils drooping after a hard freeze in Hilliard (21 degrees). (Photo: Ben Gelber)

Snowflakes are not uncommon in April in Columbus; the area typically sees about an inch of snow on average. However, the bulk of the measurable spring snowfalls have occurred during the first 10 days of the month. After April 15, the city has recorded accumulating snow about a dozen times since the late 1800s, or roughly once a decade.

Spring snows differ from winter snowstorms in texture. Winter snows tend to comprise very small, powdery flakes that pile up fast, compared to large, sticky spring snowflakes that melt fast, with the aid of a higher sun angle (more direct sunlight causing sublimation–snowflake transitions from a solid to invisible water vapor) and relatively warm soil. Heavy, wet spring snowstorms can bring down trees and power lines.

The last significant late-season snowfall in central came on Apr. 23-24, 2005, with a total of 3.2 inches in Columbus, and 10.1 inches at Mansfield through the 25th. Rarely, snow has dusted the ground in May in central Ohio, most recently on May 7, 1989 (0.7 inch).

Snow cover is expanding across the northern U.S. and Mountain West to an extent that resembles mid-March rather than halfway through the month of April.

A lobe of the polar vortex has facilitated blasts of cold air with a southerly position of the jet stream. The latest disturbance will slide along a frontal boundary from the southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic, bringing a swath of 3 to 5 inches of snow from southern Iowa and northern Missouri to northern Ohio by early Friday, and across northern Pennsylvania, and parts of New York to New England through early Saturday.

The morning NOAA visible satellite image has a faint gauzy reflection of the lingering snow cover from Wednesday morning’s 1- to 3-inch snowfall across a narrow swath of the Midwest paralleling the I-80 corridor, which caused a nearly 60-car pile-up on Chicago’s Kennedy Expressway due to icy conditions at dawn.

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