National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Notable Weather Events of 2011

Annual Rainfall Total Exceed Records...
     The year 2011 will be long remembered across northern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania for record precipitation and frequent flooding. Several locations set new annual precipitation records. The entire region ran between 125% to 200% above the normal amount of precipitation for the year.

precipitation departures from normal

Annual precipitation records were broken at Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown. Mansfield, Akron-Canton, and Erie made it to their second wettest year on record. The above image depicts the departure from normal precipitation across the region. Most places came in 12 inches or more above normal.

The National Weather Service has a volunteer Cooperative Weather Observer network. A number of our sites broke annual precipitation records as well. The tables below show the records for the official climate stations and a select number of COOP stations.







Erie, PA

2011 precipitation/

departure from normal (1981-2000)


(+ 14.55)


(+ 12.49)


(+ 26.18)







Top 5 Precipitation Records

1. 48.79" 2011
2. 47.84" 1950
3. 45.91" 1881
4. 45.71" 2006
5. 42.72" 1929

1. 67.22" 1990
2. 56.68" 2011
3. 56.32" 1986
4. 53.06" 1996
5. 52.49" 1929
1. 65.32" 2011
2. 53.83 1990
3. 53.51" 1878
4. 50.38" 1950
5. 48.53" 1992
1. 65.70" 1990
2. 58.38" 2011
3. 53.36" 1890
4. 51.11" 2003
5. 47.06" 1956
1. 54.01" 2011
2. 50.81" 1911
3. 48.58" 1956
4. 48.47" 2006
5. 47.35" 1950
1. 61.70" 1977
2. 57.44" 2011
3. 55.31" 1979
4. 55.04" 1878
5. 54.83" 1950

COOP Precipitation


previous record

Norwalk WWTP (1895)


50.46" (1950)

Mosquita_CK_LK (2004)

58.86" 53.08" (2004)
Findlay WPCC (1894) 54.47" 49.38" (1972)

Wooster (1894)

53.56" 53.29" (1990)
Upper Sandusky (1894) 57.41" 55.21" (1913)
Prospect (1915) 55.02" 53.06" (1990)
Oberlin (1894) 55.86" 47.21" (2008)
graph of 2011 precipitation at Cleveland compared to normal and 1990
cooperative weather station


A Cold Start to the Year...
     The year started out very cold with temperatures during the month of January averaging several degrees below normal. Most locations saw a handful of days with low temperatures below zero. While no significant storms affected the region during January, there were several rounds of lake effect snow.

February Snowpack Sets the Stage...
     February ended up being the most active month of the winter. A major winter storm affected the region on the 1st and 2nd of the month with three waves of mixed precipitation. Ice accumulations of nearly an inch were reported along with several inches of snow. The ice accumulations were the heaviest in the Mansfield and Canton areas. Over 50,000 residents in Canton alone lost power during the storm. Over 500 schools were forced to close in northern Ohio on the 1st and 2nd.

     A second powerful storm affected the area on February 20th and 21st. Freezing rain fell from Cleveland eastward and resulted in over 80,000 people losing power. A swath of heavy snow affected U.S. Highway 30 and Interstate 76 corridors during the afternoon of the 21st. Up to 8 inches of snow fell in less than 6 hours resulting in many accidents. Conditions were so bad that Interstate 76 in Summit County had to be closed for several hours.

     On February 25th, 5-10 inches of heavy wet snow blanketed the area. Around an inch of liquid water was held in the snow pack, with locally up to two inches of water equivalent. During the early morning hours on February 28th, most of the snow had melted as temperatures soared into the 50s. Heavy rain and thunderstorms accompanied the warm-up. Rainfall averaged one and a half to two and a half inches in about 6 hours. The combination of saturated soil, rapid snow melt, and heavy rain swelled streams and creeks, and for some, to near record levels in just a few hours. This turned out to be our worst flooding of the year in terms of area covered and severity. Over $50 million in flood related loses were reported in northern Ohio alone.

flooding of Eagle Creek
flooding from downtown Findlay 2/28/11
flooding in Shelby 2/28/11
Braceville Police Dept. Bill Garro's photo of Eagle Creek Feb. 28 Flooding in Downtown Findlay, OH Feb. 28 media photo Flooding in Shelby, OH Feb. 28
media photo

     Wet conditions continued for the rest of the spring months of March, April, and May. Cleveland, Mansfield, Youngstown, and Erie, PA all broke their previous seasonal records for the wettest spring. By the end of May, much of the region was 6 to 11 inches above normal for precipitation.

Severe Storms Brought Winds, Hail, and Tornadoes...
     The first two tornadoes of the year occurred on April 20th. An EF0 tornado touched down in Lucas county. Twenty four homes were damaged in Oregon Township by this tornado which was on the ground for three quarters of a mile. The second tornado was also an EF0 and affected Ottawa county. This tornado occurred southwest of Port Clinton and caused minor damage along a mile and a half long damage path.

     May was the busiest month of the year for severe weather. A total of 147 severe thunderstorms and four tornadoes occurred on just seven days of the month. May 25th was the busiest day of the year with at least 69 severe thunderstorms and two tornadoes confirmed. Large hail caused damage throughout northern Ohio on the 25th. Hail the size of baseballs was reported in both Hancock and Sandusky counties. An EF1 tornado touched down southwest of Monroeville in Huron county. This tornado remained on the ground for nearly eight miles and damaged a dozen homes. The second tornado of the day was an EF0 that caused a four mile long intermittent damage path near Farilawn in Summit county.

     Two more tornadoes were reported on May 26th, including the only of the year in northwestern Pennsylvania. An EF1 tornado touched down west of Srpingboro in Crawford county during the late afternoon. This tornado continued on the ground for over six miles and damaged around ten homes and buildings. The second tornado on the 26th occurred in nearby Ashtabula county.

2011: 7 tornadoes

chart of severe thunderstorms by year

storm damage from Kent 4/27/11

Storm damage in Kent, OH April 27th, 2011 media image

Severe Thunderstorms by Year
  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Number of Events 125 390 422 303 259 338 294 454 198 386 478

     The weather quieted down in June and July with no large severe weather outbreaks. In Ashtabula county on June 7th, a thunderstorm downburst produced wind gusts in excess of 70 mph and knocked down dozens of trees and caused damage at a park in Geneva. Hail the size of eggs was also reported in Lorain county on the 7th. In July, a strong thunderstorm produced downburst wind gusts in excess of 70 mph causing damage to several buildings in Wood county.

downburst damage in Geneva, OH  June 7, 2011

What is a Downburst?

A downburst is the outflow from a thunderstorm. It is created when a column of sinking rain cooled air reaches ground level and spreads out. Damaging straight line winds often result from downbursts.

     Larger outbreaks occurred on August 1st, 18th, and 25th. Large hail was reported throughout northern Ohio on the 1st. Hail the size of baseballs was reported near Upper Sandusky in Wyandot county. Golf ball or larger sized hail was also reported in Lake, Portage, Sandusky, and Medina counties. Hundreds of vehicles were damaged by the hail. More hail fell on the 18th. Lucas county was the hardest hit that day with many reports of golf ball to hen egg sized hail. The last tornado of the year occurred on August 25th in Geauga county. An EF1 tornado touched down near Chesterland and left a nearly three mile long damage path. Also on the 25th, a downburst with 75 mph wind gusts caused a path of damage near Elyria in Lorain county.

Summer Thunderstorms and Variable Rainfall Totals...
     Rainfall varied considerably during the summer months. June was the driest month of the summer with most locations ending up with below normal rainfall totals for the month. Toledo finished the month with just over a half inch (0.51 inches) of rainfall. This tied for the 3rd driest June ever.

     A corridor of heavy rainfall from storms that repeatedly trained over the same area produced overnight flooding on July 19th along a corridor from Cleveland to Akron-Canton. Over 3 inches of rain fell in just a few short hours. Cleveland finished July with nearly twice as much rainfall as normal. Contrast that to Erie which ended up with its 3rd driest July on record with only 0.74 inches of rainfall.

July Turns Hot...
     Temperatures really heated up during the month of July. Average temperatures for the month were about five degrees above normal. both Toledo and Cleveland finished with their second warmest July's ever. Mansfield, Akron-Canton and Erie all finished in the top five warmest July's on record. The high temperature at Cleveland reached 97 degrees on July 21st. This was the warmest temperature recorded at Cleveland since July 4th, 1990 when it was 98 degrees. At Toledo, it was 102 on July 21st. That was the warmest temperature at Toledo since it was 103 degrees on July 7th, 1998 and the 8th warmest day ever. Toledo finished the month with 20 days at or above 90 degrees.


Number of 90+ Degree Days in July 2011

Total Number of 90+ Degrees in 2011





7 12
Mansfield 7 14


20 32
Youngstown 6 11
Erie PA 6 11

Annual Rainfall Records Broken During Fall and Early Winter...
      The fall months continued to be relatively mild and wet. Cleveland established its new annual precipitation record on October 19th. Youngstown set their new record on December 9th. Finally, following their 2nd warmest November on record and precipitation totals well above normal for both November and December, Toledo exceeded their previous record on December 21st.

At the Close of 2011...
     Precipitation still average between one and two inches above normal in December, but much of this was in the form of rain. No significant lake effect snow events occurred and locations away from the Lake Erie snowbelt saw no more than a few inches of snow. Temperatures for the month average between five and six degrees above normal.

Monthly Records...
     A number of monthly temperature and precipitation records occurred across our climate sites this year.
    All of these monthly statistics for our climate stations can be found year around by going to the following link and selecting your station. Data each month are updated within a week if data for the previous month made the "top ten."
    NWS Cleveland Unique Local Climate Data

Annual/Yearly Records...
          Records that encompass yearly totals such as the wettest/driest/snowiest years on record are again located on our Unique Local Climate Data page.

Memorable Weather Events...
View our growing local weather events page highlighted below.
   Local Weather Events and Local Interest Features Page

The publication, StormData, can be found with the National Climatic Data Center.

2010-2011 Season Snowfall...

2010-2011 Seasonal Snowfall

It was a cold and snowy winter. A strong La Nina sent many storm systems across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. A blocking pattern in Eastern Canada sent cold air southward.

The winter started slow, there was very little snow in November. Starting in early December the cold and snow was consistent. Several large lake effect snows hit in early December. Meadville, Pennsylvania was digging out from nearly 3 feet of snow by December 6th and other sections of northwest Pennsylvania had over 4 feet in just a few days. An intense band of lake effect snow developed over downtown Cleveland on the 8th, just in time for evening rush hour.

Additional significant lake effect snows occurred just a few days later and gusty northwest winds made the snow even worse. By mid December, the secondary snowbelt from near Medina and Akron to Youngstown as well as the primary snowbelt east of Cleveland and across northwest Pennsylvania were blanketed by deep snow. Christmas was white but the weather broke for New Years. We had highs near 60F on December 31st. Despite the warm days at the end of the month, December was one of the colder on record. Temperatures averaged 5 to 6 degrees below normal!

The snow was generally not as heavy in January and February but it snowed frequently. The Youngstown-Warren Airport reported snow on 29 of the 31 days in January. Youngstown set an all time seasonal snowfall record with 118.7 inches and the new record came in February - with weeks of snow to go! January remained cold with temperatures 3 to 4 degrees below normal. The cold relented a bit in February and it warmed all the way back to near normal.

Unlike the past two springs, we were not treated to an early warm up. It snowed at times right into April. When the snow stopped, it kept raining and raining (and raining). Several rainfall records were set in the spring of 2011.

Worldwide Climate Anomalies and Events...
   Significant Global Climate Events and Anomalies 2011
   NCDC 2011 Preliminary Annual Global Climate Report

Additional Notes...
All data are considered preliminary. The National Climatic Data Center finalizes and stores the official record of all of our weather data. Period of record are as follows:
Records date back to 1874 for Erie
                                  1897 for Youngstown
                                  1871 for Canton-Akron, Cleveland, and Toledo
                                  1916 for Mansfield