Complaints About Central Ohio Weather Nothing New

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Winter in Ohio is upon us once again. When once asked to describe winter in Ohio to someone not familiar with it, a local historian of a century ago said he was reminded of some doggerel he learned as a child which he thought adequately described this part of the world at that time of the year.

First it rained, and then it blew, And then it friz, and then it snew, And then there was shower of rain, And then it friz and snew again.

We have heard a lot in recent years about global warming, the effects of various gases on the atmosphere and the awful portent of the effects of a an Earth with temperatures rising and of worlds without winter – on certain recent days a not totally unattractive idea.

It might be useful to remember times – thankfully not all that often – when we have seen worlds without summer. The last one of any substance in Ohio was the summer of 1816.

That was the year that Columbus, Ohio finally thought it might make something of itself. Founded in 1812, to be the state capital, the town had barely been surveyed when the War of 1812 began. Now the war was over. A Treaty of Peace had been signed. Not knowing of the treaty, Andrew Jackson and his army of ragtag frontiersmen, soldiers, Indians and Barataria Pirates had just defeated one England’s best armies New Orleans. 1816 was shaping up to be a great year.

And I suppose it was as long as one kept one’s winter coat handy. A few examples from an account written at the time.

“The first half of March was cold and boisterous, the second half mild. A tremendous freshet [read flood] on the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers caused great loss of property. April began warm but grew colder and ended with snow and ice June was the coldest ever known in this latitude. Frost, ice and snow were common August was more cheerless, if possible than other summer months had been Almost every green thing was destroyed in this country and in Europe. November was cold and blustery. Snow fell during that month sufficiently to make sleighing “

And then perhaps to assure himself as much as his by this time thoroughly depressed reader, the author of this account closed by saying optimistically – “The rest of the winter was mild.”

And many winters in Ohio are just that. There have been many years in the past as well as within recent memory when it has been well above freezing with little snow in sight to the chagrin of people who had been – if not dreaming – at least passingly hoping for a white Christmas.

The fact is, Ohio is one of those states and Columbus is one of those places where the weather like some of its sports fans is subject to remarkably rapid mood swings.

There is an old saying about Ohio, which always struck me as a statement of sunny confidence in the dead of winter when the land is dark and the days are cold.

“Don’t like the weather around here? Just wait a couple of days. It’s bound to change.”

And it usually does.

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