It’s been awhile since I’ve made a blog post, but today I’ve awoke my slumber to share some information and pictures pertaining to the significant snowfall in eastern Ohio between April 19th and 21st, 1901. This storm was unprecedented in its ferocity for so late in the season, and is still unmatched in terms of April snowfall. Indeed, the snowfall totals that occurred have rarely been noted in the state of Ohio at any time of the year. Given the warming climate, it would seem unlikely that an event of similar magnitude could ever reoccur at this time of the year — which is all the more reason to save this one for posterity.

Below is a contour map showing a rough distribution of the snowfall, in inches, from this event. Note that much of the eastern half of the state saw more than a foot, with local totals in excess of 36″.

Contour map showing snowfall accumulations during the storm of April 19-21, 1901.
Contour map showing snowfall accumulations during the storm of April 19-21, 1901.

I. STORM SUMMARY

Below is an except from the Ohio Monthly Weather Review for the month of April 1901, discussing this great snow storm:

The Snow Storm of April 19th – 21st

The great snow storm of April 19th to 21st, inclusive, will long be remembered by the inhabitants of the eastern part of Ohio as a record breaker for a storm occurring that late in the season. The most severe part was limited in extent almost entirely to the east portion of the State, and the dividing line between the two areas of very heavy and of moderate snowfall was quite marked. This line, extending southerly from Lorain County, passed east of Columbus; at this point it took a southwesterly course to the eastern part of Brown County. Along the southeastern border of Ohio there was, however, a narrow strip over which the precipitation, although as heavy as in adjacent districts, was mostly in the form of rain.

High winds produced drifts that were five to ten feet high, making roads impassable and putting railroad traffic almost at a standstill. The voluntary observer at Gratiot, Licking County, reported that snow fell without intermission for fifty-six hours, and constituted the worst storm ever known at that place. Numerous other observers reported the storm as lasting continuously for two days. A few reports showed damage to trees by breakage, due to the heavy weight of the snow, which was very wet in most places. At Warsaw the observer reports many cattle and sheep killed by the crushing in of the shed roofs.

At Warren 5 1/2 inches of snow fell on the 19th and 30 inches on the 20th. The observer at that place, W. D. McCorkle, favored this office with a splendid photograph of the drifts near his residence. The observer at Green Hill reported 28 inches fell within thirty-six hours.

As a rule the snow had practically disappeared by the 28th, but in a number of localities the last traces of the great storm did not fade away until after the 30th.

II. OBSERVATIONS FROM THE STORM

A. WARREN, OHIO

One of the hardest hit locations, as indicated in the excerpt above, was Warren, Ohio (Trumbull County). W. D. McCorkle, the cooperative observer in Warren, reported a 3-day storm total of 37.5″ of snow, including 30.0″ on the 20th alone. The snow depth was reportedly 26″ at observation time on the 20th. During this era, the observations were usually made around 7 PM in the evening, although the exact time is not specified on the form.

The full record for April 1901 can be accessed at the link below:

Voluntary Observers’ Meteorological Record (Warren, Ohio) – April 1901

Warren
Zoomed in image showing the Voluntary Observers’ Meteorological Record, submitted by W. D. McCorkle for the month of April 1901. According to Mr. McCorkle, 4.60″ of precipitation was observed from the 19th through the 21st, including 37.5″ of new snowfall.

April 19, 1901

  • High: 35
  • Low: 29
  • Precipitation: 0.62″
  • Snowfall: 5.5″
  • Snow depth, at time of observation: 2″

April 20, 1901

  • High: 33
  • Low: 30
  • Precipitation: 3.30″
  • Snowfall: 30.0″
  • Snow depth, at time of observation: 26″

April 21, 1901

  • High: 44
  • Low: 30
  • Precipitation: 0.68″
  • Snowfall: 2.0″
  • Snow depth, at time of observation: 10″

B. CANTON, OHIO

Another location particularly hard hit was Canton, Ohio. Below is a PDF of the original Voluntary Observers’ Meteorological Record, as recorded by C. F. Stokey, for Canton, Ohio (Stark County) in April 1901. I have summarized the observations pertaining to this event below. Clicking on the link below will pull up the full, original document.

Voluntary Observers’ Meteorological Record (Canton, Ohio) – April 1901

Zoomed in image of the Voluntary Observers' Meteorological Record for Canton, Ohio in April 1901, as submitted by C. F. Stokey.
Zoomed in image of the Voluntary Observers’ Meteorological Record for Canton, Ohio in April 1901, as submitted by C. F. Stokey. According to Mr. Stokey, 4.82″ of precipitation was observed from the 19th through the 21st, including 42.0″ of new snowfall.

April 19, 1901

  • High: 33
  • Low: 31
  • Precipitation: 0.60″
  • Snowfall: 2.0″
  • Snow depth, at time of observation: MM
  • Remarks: Snowing all day.

April 20, 1901

  • High: 32
  • Low: 31
  • Precipitation: 2.40″
  • Snowfall: 24.0″
  • Snow depth, at time of observation: 14″
  • Remarks: Snowing all day.

April 21, 1901

  • High: 39
  • Low: 30
  • Precipitation: 1.82″
  • Snowfall: 16.0″
  • Snow depth, at time of observation: 18″ +/-

In addition, Mr. Stokey noted:

“April 18th to 21st greatest snow storm ever known here in April. Temperature about 32 [degrees Fahrenheit] all the time & snow settled, “packed,” rapidly. Drifts 10 ft. reported; 4 ft. deep seen. Some snow remained in shaded drifts until 1st of May.”

C. LANCASTER, OHIO

The heavy snow wasn’t confined to the northeastern part of the State. R. L. Renshaw, the observer from Lancaster, Ohio (Fairfield County) estimated a storm total of 30.0″. Unfortunately, Mr. Renshaw did not report daily snowfall amounts. However, a total of 2.74″ of precipitation was observed from the 19th through the 21st, including an estimated 30.0″ of snow. Mr. Renshaw wrote: “Greatest April snow storm on record. Estimated depth 30 inches. Some buildings crushed under great weight.”

Lancaster
Voluntary Observers’ Meteorological Report for Lancaster, Ohio (Fairfield County) for the month of April 1901. Note the storm total of 30.0″ of snow.

April 19, 1901*

  • High: 39
  • Low: 30
  • Precipitation: 0.30″

April 20, 1901*

  • High: 36
  • Low: 30
  • Precipitation: 1.56″

April 21, 1901*

  • High: 39
  • Low: 30
  • Precipitation: 0.88″

*Daily snowfall and snow depth not reported, but an estimated storm total of 30.0″ was reported.

III. PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE STORM

Fortunately, despite the age of this event, several photographs are still in existence today.

Hale House on Spring Street in Burton, Ohio (Geauga County). Photo dated April 20, 1901. Image obtained from the Cleveland Memory Project at the Libraries of Cleveland State University.
Hale House on Spring Street in Burton, Ohio (Geauga County). Photo dated April 20, 1901. Image obtained from the Cleveland Memory Project at the Libraries of Cleveland State University.
Image from East Main Street looking west towards Public Square in Alliance, Ohio, showing the aftermath of the big snow storm. Photo from Alliance Historical Society. Used by the author here under belief that, as a work published prior to 1923, it is in the public domain.
Image from East Main Street looking west towards Public Square in Alliance, Ohio, showing the aftermath of the big snow storm. Photo from Alliance Historical Society. Used by the author here under belief that, as a work published prior to 1923, it is in the public domain.
Looking east down East Main Street in the aftermath of the great snow of April 1901.
Looking east down East Main Street in the aftermath of the great snow of April 1901.

IV. NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS OF THE STORM

The Youngstown Vindicator for Saturday evening, April 20th, 1901, provides a good historical reference for this event. In big, bold letters, the headline read:

“Blizzard is a record beater. The storm of Friday night smashes all records for this latitude. Plays havoc with wires. The snow fall the deepest of any April storm in the memory of the oldest people — Street car traffic suspended — The damage extends all over the city and vicinity.”

Youngstown Vindicator, dated Saturday, April 20, 1901.
Youngstown Vindicator, dated Saturday, April 20, 1901.

Further illustrating the great effects from this historic snowstorm, the paper writes:

“One serious inconvenience resultant of the storm which has prevailed in this city and vicinity for the past two days, is the interruption of telegraph service. Since last night, Youngstown has been cut off, practically, from communication by wire with the outside world. In consequence, the Vindicator appears, today, for the first time in its history, with only a modicum of news from beyond the borders of the city, excepting such as transpired last night before communication was interrupted, the wires of the Associated Press having shared the fate of those of the telegraph companies in general. It is confidently expected, however, that the Associated Press and telegraph authorities working in conjunction, will succeed in re-establishing complete communication by night and that the Sunday Vindicator, tomorrow morning, will be enabled to publish the news of all the world, as usual, but in any event, it will contain the usual amount of readable matter.”

More to come soon…

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