National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



On Monday, February 15th and Tuesday, February 16th, an upper-level trough over the southern Great Plains lifted northeast across the mid-Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes region. Meanwhile at 300mb, a 120 knot jet streak ahead of the trough and another 170 knot jet streak northeast of the Great Lakes region, resulted in synoptic scale lift across the region. At the surface, a surface low of approximately 1008 mb developed over the southern Gulf States, deepening to 1000 mb as it moved northeast across the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys to northwest Pennsylvania by 12Z Tuesday, February 16th. Significant moisture advection occurred between 925 mb and 700 mb along with vertical lift associated with isentropic upglide and synoptic forcing previously mentioned. A deformation zone across the region resulted in moderate frontogenesis, primarily between 925-850 mb, which allowed for mesoscale banding to produce very heavy snowfall across portions of the western NWS CLE CWA and points farther west and north, with up to a foot of snow measured in the Toledo, OH area and 6-12” west of a line from far western Cuyahoga County to western Morrow county. Less than 6” of snow was observed elsewhere in the CLE CWA due to mainly sleet and some freezing rain mixing in for much of the event. Significant temperature advection at or near 850mb, allowed warm temperatures aloft to produce a favorable thermal profile for sleet, despite surface temperatures in the low to mid 20s. Maximum wet bulb temperatures of freezing or higher reached as far northwest as Cuyahoga County with some of our southeast counties (e.g. Mahoning County) as high as 2 degrees C.

As the main synoptic portion of the event ended on the early morning of Tuesday, February 16, breaks in the ice across Lake Erie allowed for lake effect snow to impact the primary snowbelt region. This lake effect snow, albeit mostly light, became moderate to heavy at some points throughout the day and evening on February 16, resulting in additional snow accumulations of around 6 to 8 inches in the aforementioned areas. You can visualize the snow accumulations well in the interpolated snowfall image in the upper right.

Interpolated snowfall from 7 PM EST Feb 13 to 7 PM EST Feb 16. Note the swath of 8 to 12 inches along and west of the I-71 corridor, with a maximum of 12 to 18 inches in Northwest Ohio. Also, note the swath of 8 to 12 inches along the lakeshore between Cleveland and Ashtabula. This is mainly due to lake effect snow following the main event.

Loop of mean sea level pressure (MSLP), surface observations, and WPC surface analysis from 10 AM EST Feb 15 to 9 AM EST Feb 16. Note the slight north wobble through the Ohio Valley.

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