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The coldest Christmas in Cleveland history wasn't that long ago

Posted at 8:00 AM, Dec 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-22 11:10:12-05

CLEVELAND — What was the coldest Christmas in Cleveland? It’s within living memory for many of us.

We hit 10-below-zero during the Great Christmas Blizzard of 1983. It was even colder in Akron, where the temperature reached a record-setting -14. Christmas Day 1983 also set the record for coldest high temperature for a Cleveland Christmas, at a balmy 1 degree. The Mansfield area set its coldest Christmas record more recently, dipping down to 15 below in 2004.

The National Weather Service commemorated the 1983 blizzard on its 30th anniversary with the following remembrance:

Christmas of 1983 was the coldest Christmas ever with blizzard conditions across northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania. The combination of the arctic cold temperatures and the wide open Great Lakes set the stage for the development of a Lake Effect blizzard.

Snow fell across northern Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania on December 24th and 25th. Winds of 40 to 50 mph whipped between 6 and 20 inches of new snow into 10 to 15 foot drifts. WJET-TV 24 Meteorologist remembered the high winds and incredible snow drifts that developed from the fine snow because the air was so cold making the snow lighter.

Visibilities were zero for several hours and virtually all roads were closed from just east of Cleveland, Ohio to Buffalo, New York. Utilities were out for several hours and hundreds of residents and travelers had to go to shelter areas. The City of Ashtabula was declared a disaster area and the National Guard was activated. Several people suffered frostbite as air temperatures fell below zero.

You can read more here.

If you’re curious about the record for Christmas snow in Cleveland, it wasn’t 1983. The most snow we’ve ever received on December 25 was 10.2 inches in 2002. The most snow we’ve ever had on the ground is 13 inches in both 1995 and 2004.

The warmest Cleveland Christmas, funny enough, was 1982, just one year before the Blizzard of ‘83, when the temperature climbed up to 66 degrees. Akron (64) and Mansfield (62) also set their record highs in 1982.

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