To be clear, not every instance of below zero nights or days is exactly alike. Several parameters need to be in place for this to occur in northern Ohio: COLD AIR ALOFT (850 mB level - 5000 ft), clear skies and snow cover. How cold do the 850 mB temperatures have to get to reach, say -15 or lower? Looking back at the 6 coldest readings in Cleveland history (I also threw in 2009 because that was the last time we fell to -10 or below), the west to east 850 mB temperature profile looked different each time
The 1/19/1994 record low event looked like this at 850 mB. Cold core was north of the Great Lakes.
|850 mB temps fell to between -30 to -32|
|850 mB temps fell to around -28 converted from Kelvin|
|850 mB temps fell well below -30|
Based on my checking, the coldest 850 mB temperatures EVER were during the 1/16,17/1982 event with a -38!
Yet the surface temperatures never fell below -13 and -17 over the two days.
|850 mB temperature fell to a mind blowing -38 Celsius!|
Finally, 1/16/2009...850 mB fell to at least -23. Cold core was shallow.
How about the cold on Tuesday? The 850 mB forecast temperature drops to -30.
Each instance has a different west to east 850 mB profile with different resulting surface temperatures even though the 850 mB temps might have been similar to past events.
In other words, the 850 mB temps are only part of the story when it comes to predicting arctic cold overnight lows.
The last time we fell below zero was in 2011
The last time we fell below -10 was in 2009 when we hit -13 (5 nights below zero)
High temperature at or below zero: 14 Times
The last time was 1994: -3
The coldest high temperature EVER in CLE: -5 in 1985
Below zero high temperature happened twice in 1982
Below zero high temperature happened 5 Times in 1899
Winter 1976-77 had 28 instances or below zero temperatures (days and nights)