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Expert predicts rainy, mild Ohio winter

Thomas Bradley / Campus editor

While all of winter break might have disappointed many hopeful “White Christmas” optimists, the day before Winter Quarter brought the first accumulation of snow in central Ohio.

The National Weather Service reported half an inch of snow in December in Columbus, but it was nothing that accumulated at any point in time.

Jeff Rogers, professor of atmospheric sciences at Ohio State, said the little amount of snowfall avoided a record low.

“That avoided setting a record of an all time low, which was 2/10ths of an inch of snow in 1910, we came pretty close to an all time low of snow in December,” Rogers said.

A light dusting on the streets and a thin white layer of snow in the grass has Ohio preparing for the upcoming winter season.

The Ohio Department of Transportation announced Monday morning that 53 snowplows would be working to keep the streets clear. The working trucks also ensured the roads were salted and ready in case of cold weather.

“It wasn’t the greatest conditions (driving to campus),” Rogers said. “The roads aren’t particularly good. The freeways are good, but most of the roads around the city have a lot of icy stretches on them. You might get ice for 30 feet, then you’re good again.”

Maggie Reading, a third-year in computer science, shared the same troubles.

“(Interstate) 71 was really busy today. We were driving to the mall, it was pretty bad,” Reading said. “(It) had a lot of snow, a lot of people were driving pretty poorly.”

Rogers predicts that this winter will be rather mild.

“It’s pretty unusual that we have to wait until January before snow that sticks. I think it’s probably due to the fact that we are having a La Niña,” Rogers said.

La Niña is a situation in which the equatorial Pacific Ocean is unusually cold, and this affects the circulation of the atmosphere in the tropics. Rogers said this sometimes results in mild winters.

“It’s not always going to be this way with a La Niña. Usually we get a wet, as in a rainy wet, winter. It tends to be a little bit milder than usual,” Rogers said. “Snow is kind of non-existent and very limited in those winters.”

Rogers said he expects the entire winter to be very mild and very rainy, with an exception of a short period.

“I would expect given what usually happens, we’ll probably lose the impact of La Niña for a two-or three-week period, reverting back to real winter-like conditions, and it will get a lot colder and snowier,” Rogers said.

Those hoping for more snow over break were probably wondering why the snow wasn’t falling. Even on New Years Day, the skies parted and rain fell over central Ohio for a day, something that Rogers said could be common this winter.

“Those mild conditions are going to be pretty cloudy and wet,” Rogers said. “So it’s not going to be particularly pleasant.”

Dan Hope contributed to this story.

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