Ohio harbors a wealth of beautiful landscapes: rustic farms, wooded hills, tallgrass prairie, hemlock groves, scenic lakeshores and rugged gorges, to mention a few. But the winter weather of the Buckeye State rarely brings such accolades. Visiting family this week, my memories of Ohio's gray season were strongly reinforced.
Located at the confluence of moisture flow from the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes, Ohio receives more than its fair share of annual precipitation and, during the colder months, what doesn't fall creates a dense overcast of flat, gray clouds. Adding to the moisture flow, the State's terrain gradually climbs toward the east, producing a mild "upslope" as the air rises, cools and condenses. This orographic precipitation is especially evident in Northeastern Ohio where northwest winds, developing behind cold fronts, sweep across Lake Erie, saturate with moisture and dump their cargo of heavy snow on the higher terrain southeast of the Lake.
Of course, this winter precipitation nourishes the rich forests, wetlands, meadows and productive farmlands of the State. But, in the midst of a cold, gray winter, those benefits are often hard to appreciate.