On Sunday, snow fell across the area. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
On Sunday, snow fell across the area. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – The winter of 2018-19 came in sharp segments, said weather service observers from the National Weather Service from northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. Although March is considered by many to still be a “winter month,” officials at the MWS officially close the “meteorological winter” at the end of February.

“The winter began mild with below normal snowfall,” said weather officials. “Precipitation was generally below normal in December, until the last day when over an inch of rain swayed the monthly total to slightly above normal.

“However, a record cold blast from the Arctic and Siberia brought record cold temperatures to the end of the month,” stated weather observers.

Snowfall for the winter had major variability in the region, ranging from 20 to over 30 inches through the end of February. Weather specialist Rick McCoy measured 32 inches from mid-November through the end of February, the highest amount in that time period in three years. Much of the heavier local snow for the winter fell south of U.S. 24 while lake effect impacted areas along the Toll Road and north in much greater amounts.

“The end of January was abominable,” stated weather officials. “The Polar Vortex helped send bitterly cold air south from the Arctic right into the heart of the Great Lakes Region.”

Wind chills during that time ranged 30 to 50 below zero while actual air temperatures dropped to between 10 and 20 below. For two days, the temperatures were 31 and 26 below zero successively.

“These departures from normal are especially impressive when you factor in the fact that this is normally the coldest time of the year anyway,” stated weather officials.

Perhaps the most impressive event of the winter was the furious windstorm of Feb. 24.

Weather officials pointed out that wind gusts of 58 miles per hour or above are considered “severe gusts.”

They noted that between 1948 and this past February, there were 38 such gusts recorded at the Fort Wayne Airport. On Feb. 24, 2019, 16 such gusts were recorded, nearly half the amount of the entire 70 year period in one day. The highest gust recorded on the 24th in Fort Wayne was 64 miles per hour. Weather specialist Rick McCoy said he recorded a gust of 61 miles per hour at his wind gauge in Convoy.

McCoy noted that following another extreme outbreak of Arctic air for the first half of this week, temperatures are expected to modify to near normal next week. Ironically, during that time, temperatures west of the Mississippi River are expected to be well below normal while temperatures in the East are expected to be well above normal.