First snow of season falls short of predictions
Although the first snowstorm of the season didn’t drop quite as much snow as was predicted, there was enough to cause havoc on area roads and turn a dreary countryside into the white winter landscape.
A day after Christmas, the wintry storm moved into the area early on Wednesday and began to bear down on the area from the south and west. By noon, most of the area was blanketed with snow; enough to allow for white outs on area roads. At times, the snow was driven by winds in excess of 40 miles per hour.
Officially, 3.5 inches of snow fell on the Berne area, but much heavier amounts occurred just to the south and east of the area. Bluffton reported four inches while five inches was reported from the Portland area. Similar amounts were reported from the Fort Wayne area and parts of northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
Jeff Lehman, of Lehman Feed Mill, had said earlier that a good snow and freeze this winter would benefit area farmers, especially in light of compacting that had occurred in fall harvest. Melting snow, said Lehman, would help soften the soil and allow moisture to seep down for the spring planting season. In addition, snow would protect the wheat from any wind damage that occurs to the crop it if it was bare all winter.
Weather specialist Rick McCoy, Van Wert County, said that storm amounts were somewhat lower than predicted, although most of the local area had been predicted for 4-7 inches.
"The storm veered a little to the southeast and that made a lot of difference in the amounts of snow that occurred in the area," said McCoy. "It's amazing how much difference there is in just a small shift in the storm track. Most of the heavy snow that was slated for our area shifted just a little south."
McCoy noted that the Lima area received 9.5 inches of snow while 10 inches was common in the Celina area and around Mercer County. Dayton received eight inches and portions of the Indianapolis area received up to a foot.
"More significant than this storm itself is the fact that it is ushering in a large blast of Arctic air that could prevail into the middle of January," said McCoy. "This is undoubtedly going to be the coldest air of the season so far.
"One thing that has kept National Weather Service personnel guessing this winter has been the confusing signals coming from what appeared to be at one time a developing El Nino. That hasn't developed the way it was anticipated so it is more difficult to predict what the winter weather pattern will be, McCoy said.
McCoy said that the official long range forecast for the local area is for near normal temperatures and snowfall for the month of January. January, the coldest month of the year, averages highs of 31 degrees and lows of 16 degrees. It is also the snowiest month of the year with an average of 12 inches of the season snowfall total average of 32 inches coming in January.
The date most likely to have snow cover is Jan. 26, but that is simply on the average, said McCoy.
"One thing is certain, this winter is already off to a different start than last winter, or so it appears," said McCoy. "Every season has its own personality; it will be interesting to see what happens now that winter is officially here."
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