Many of you likely remember the wind storm from September 2008 that caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike that devastated our region and knocked out power for many days. However, most of the wind storms (outside of severe storms) that blast through Ohio tend to come from what meteorologists call Alberta Clippers.
The damaging, nearly sustained winds that blasted the Miami Valley on Saturday were from an unusually strong Alberta Clipper that rapidly strengthened as it moved across the Great Lakes.
So what is an Alberta Clipper? This type of storm is a fast moving low pressure system which generally originates in the western provinces of Canada, around Alberta, and moves east-southeastward into parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the United States. Alberta Clippers take their name from Alberta, Canada and from clipper ships of the 19th century, one of the fastest ships of that time.
These storm systems can precipitate a sudden temperature drop and sharp winds. Most clippers occur between December and February, but can also occur occasionally as early as November and as late as April.
The system over the weekend moved from southern Canada rapidly through Minnesota and into the Great Lakes, picking up strength as it linked up with the jet stream. The system also managed to pick up some moisture from the Great Lakes which helped generate the rain, small hail, and eventually snow showers that pelted the area Saturday afternoon and evening.
It also appears that more Alberta Clippers are likely on the way to the Ohio Valley, although hopefully not as intense as Saturday’s system. The weather pattern we are in starting this month has been one where these clippers are quite common. The system that came through yesterday and one that is forecast to arrive on Thursday are both Alberta Clippers.
These storm systems are responsible for the quick warming of temperatures before they arrive and the blasts of cold air that follow. This pattern looks to hold through the rest of the week with our temperatures likely staying below average for the next 8 to 10 days.
A change in our pattern should begin toward the middle of the month, when more of a zonal flow is expected to develop, keeping the Canadian storm systems to our north and finally allowing temperatures to steady out at more seasonable levels.
Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.