Portage County 8 inches short of average snowfall numbers

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

A local weather expert has recorded just three-tenths of an inch of snow this winter in Kent, about 8 inches short of seasonal average at this point in the year.

Thomas Schmidlin, geography professor and severe weather expert, has recorded snowfalls in the city for 25 years. This season, he has recorded significant snowfall on just one weekend.

"Thanksgiving weekend, toward the end of it, got cold and we had about three-tenths of an inch spread over a couple of little episodes," he said.

The current pattern of the jet stream, Schmidlin said, is responsible for the lack of snow in Portage County so far this winter. Normally by this point in the year, the jet stream would be dipping south across the Great Lakes, bringing cold air and lake- effect snow.

"(The jet stream's) been steady up on the Canadian border," Schmidlin said. "In fact, most of the eastern U.S. has had a rather snowless beginning of winter."

According to Schmidlin's research, Kent saw an average of 8 inches of snow from the start of the season until Dec. 11. He recorded a below average amount last year as well by this point­ -- about 3 inches.

The winter of 2011-12 ended with higher than average temperatures and lower than average snow, but Schmidlin pointed out he recorded the most snow in the past 25 years during 2010-11. That season included a few big storms, like the twin storms of Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, which each dumped more than 10 inches of snow on the county, snarling traffic and canceling classes for area students.

Although winter does not formally start until Dec. 21 this year, for the purposes of Schmidlin's recordings the season starts with the first snow of the second half of a year and ends with the last snow of the first half of the following year.

Because of the jet stream pattern, Schmidlin said temperatures have also been about 10 degrees higher on average this December. He said parts of the continent, like Alaska and some western states, are seeing very cold weather and snow.

But until the jet stream dips farther south, Northeast Ohio should be safe from heavy snow.

"The next week to 10 days looks still fairly mild," Schmidlin said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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