MOUNT VERNON — Weather observers are everywhere. Every county in Ohio has at least one, and some counties have more. With the recent snowfalls that fell in February, one Centerburg resident has been busy.
Danville Top Ten Snowfalls for February
Centerburg Top Ten Snowfalls for February
Fredericktown Top Ten Snowfalls for February
For 18 years, Mike White’s job has been to measure precipitation and temperature each day.
From his home southeast of Centerburg, he works for NOAA: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or simply the National Weather Service. He has what he describes as simple tools to do the job.
At 8 a.m. each day he goes to a gauge that is simply a can 6 inches in diameter to check for rain or snow. Water is easy to measure. But how is snowfall measured? Snow in the can is melted; one-tenth of an inch of water is equal to 1 inch of snow.
Recording the temperature in the digital age is all automatic. Temperature sensors outside his home are connected to instruments in the house. A tape is produced that records the readings.
White said he used to have two thermometers, one mercury and one alcohol based, in a box outside his home. After taking the reading, the mercury thermometer was shaken to lower the mercury, just like the old thermometers used to measure fevers.
White records his observations 350 days a year. Each month, he mails a chart with all of the readings to the Cleveland office of NOAA. He is not a paid employee. White said he started in 1981 and was paid the first couple of years, but now does the observation simply as a service.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation at Jacksontown, the overall snowfall for Knox County this winter is 41.05 inches. For February, the figure is 28.01 inches. Kate Stickle, ODOT director of communication, said ODOT did not have figures to indicate whether this is a record for the county.
NOAA keeps track of weather data from reading sites across the country, including five sites in Knox County. Data appearing on its Web site helps put last month’s snowfall into perspective.
In ranking the top 10 snowfalls in February, the Danville site recorded 21.5 inches of snow in 2003. That was followed by 19 inches in 1985, 15.5 inches in 1993, 15 inches in 1979, 13.7 inches in 1967, 12.5 inches in 1984, 12 inches in 1964, 10.6 inches in 1996, 10.5 inches in 1991 and 9.6 inches in 1972. The average amount of snowfall recorded at this site was 8 inches.
One of two Centerburg sites recorded 16 inches of snow fell in February 1967. Coming in as the second-heaviest snow was 1958 with 14 inches; 13.5 inches of snow fell that month in 1979; 13 inches in 1962; 12 inches in 1964; 11.5 inches in 1947; 11.2 inches in 1961; 10.2 inches in 1960; 9 in 1965 again in 1974. The average snowfall for this site was 6.8 inches.
A recording site at the Fredericktown Sewage Plant shows 1962 as the February with the largest snowfall total, with 14.5 inches. That was followed closely by 1979 with 14.3 inches, 13.6 inches in 1967, 13.5 inches in 1960, 13 inches in 1961, 11.9 inches in 1944, 11 inches in 1971, 10 inches in 1964, 9 inches in 1955 and 8.5 inches in 1963.