COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A blast of arctic air arriving on Friday all but ensures a white Christmas in central Ohio, although snow totals will be relatively light.
Rain will turn to snow by daybreak on Friday, with increasing winds gusting as high as 40 to 50 mph at times behind an arctic cold front. Low pressure over northern Indiana will intensify dramatically moving across Lower Michigan Friday afternoon, pulling in frigid air.
Although the initial changeover to snow will provide only a light accumulation, snow showers will rotate southward around the departing storm through early Saturday, as bitterly cold air picks up additional moisture.
Frigid temperatures in the wake of the storm will keep whatever light snow that accumulates falls around for Christmas. Morning lows during the holiday weekend will dip down into the single digits, with wind chills of -10 to -20 across Ohio. Afternoon temperatures will not rise much above 10 degrees.
Blizzard conditions will develop Thursday night and Friday northwest of the storm path across portions of the Midwest, where a significant snowfall is expected.
The historic probability of seeing at least an inch of snow on the ground Christmas morning in central Ohio is only about 25%, or 1 in 4 winters, based on NOAA data in the past half-century.
The Christmas holiday last year was exceptionally mild, with a high of 62 degrees in Columbus, and a soaking 0.82 of an inch of rain, the most on record for the date.
A more traditional snowy Christmas in 2020 followed a sharp drop in temperature on Christmas Eve from 53 to 17 degrees and 3.6 inches of snow ending early Christmas morning. Temperatures on Christmas Day ranged from 14 to 18 degrees, with a 3-inch snow cover.
Christmas 2020 tied 2004 for the most substantial snow depth in the past 25 years.
The warmest Christmas in Columbus weather records (since 1878) occurred in 1893 (64 degrees). The coldest in 1983 had a high temperature of 1 degree and a morning low of -12.
The snowiest Christmas Day goes way back to 1890 (7 inches), and the greatest cumulative snow depth of 9 inches was recorded in 1960. The 1960s featured a series of white Christmases unlike any other decade.