Past winter one of the coldest and snowiest on record

Statistics from the National Weather Service suggest snow and cold combined for one of the harshest winters in decades.

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 12:40 a.m.

ELKHART -- Make no mistake -- this winter was among the coldest and snowiest on record, according to the National Weather Service.

Comparatively, Goshen turned out to be hit just a little harder by the weather than some surrounding areas.

Apparently, just a few miles can make a difference in meteorological patterns.

“There was heavier snow that kept setting up in southeastern part of Elkhart County, so we would expect Goshen to be higher,” said Evan Bentley, a meteorologist for the weather service in North Webster.

In some ways, Elkhart residents might have caught a break this winter, though many would probably deny it.

“The lake effect didn’t quite get far enough east to get Elkhart and (with) a lot of the storm systems, the heavy snow set up just southeast of Elkhart and so Elkhart is a little bit lower than everyone else.”

Goshen recorded 70 inches of snow for the season, marking the third snowiest total on record for the city, according to the weather service.

How much overtime?
Goshen, Elkhart and Elkhart County all exhausted allotted overtime budgets for 2014 as road crews battled the winter elements. Combined, those three government units spent $378,159. Representatives for all three said they will seek additional appropriations to cover the remaining year.

Elkhart recorded 61.7 inches. Those figures are provided by the city public works department, but those records only date back about 10 years, so the weather service doesn’t attempt to put Elkhart totals into a historical perspective.

Looking back, the 2013-14 winter season will be remembered locally for numerous aspects. There were two snow emergencies, three intense cold spells punctuated by the term “polar vortex,” and an endless array of snow events that kept school administrators watching radars and windows nearly every day.

“The combination of snow and cold made it quite rare,” Bentley said. “In many ways, it was the harshest winter since 1981-82.”

The biggest snowfall in Elkhart County occurred Jan. 5- 6, when more than a foot fell across the region. Snowfalls varied greatly, but Elkhart received about 13 inches, the weather service said.

In the midst of that storm, temps began to plummet and conditions quickly transitioned from a snow storm to a deep freeze. The coldest temperature was recorded at minus 14 in South Bend.

Statistics prove this winter to be one for the record books across the region.

Chicago had its third snowiest winter with 80.6 inches -- 44 inches more than normal.

To the east, Toledo had a record-setting 73 inches of snow.

Fort Wayne received 59.4 inches, less than an inch short of the record and 34 inches above normal.

South Bend, normally affected greatly by lake effect snow, has received 108 inches of snow. The normal is 66.1, according to Mike Hoffman, meteorologist for WNDU.

Statistics suggest it was about as cold as it was snowy.

Looking at temperatures recorded since Jan. 1, Fort Wayne and South Bend had the second coldest average temperatures on record, with both cities averaging 20.45 degrees, according to the weather service.

Goshen also led the area with 21 days in which low temperatures reached zero or below. Bentley said that statistic was the most for any area community. He also noted that while they have daily temperatures for Elkhart, those are not archived for historical purposes.

Overall, South Bend had its sixth coldest winter, while Chicago’s ranked third coldest and Toledo’s ranked fourth coldest.

Hoffman said South Bend’s snow total will rank in the top four or five and that the winter will be the sixth coldest.

“That puts you in the top two or three with the combination of cold and snow,” Hoffman said.

According to the weather service, Michiana saw less lake effect than normal and more system snow over the course of the season. The limited lake effect was attributed to extensive freezing of the surface of Lake Michigan.


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