Could the Ohio River freeze over? A look back at 1977 - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Could it happen again? A look at a frozen Ohio River

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The Ohio River - January 1948 The Ohio River - January 1948
The Ohio River - January 1948 The Ohio River - January 1948
The Ohio River on Thursday. The Ohio River on Thursday.
January temperature comparisons (1977 and 2014) January temperature comparisons (1977 and 2014)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Sub-zero temperatures have plagued the Tri-state this winter.

For many residents living in Cincinnati, these cold temperatures bring back memories of a frozen Ohio River, particularly the winter of 1977.

The river has only frozen twice since the Meldahl Dam and the Markland Dam opened in the 1960s.

In 1977, the Ohio River actually froze twice in Cincinnati. The river was solid for six days from Jan. 18-23 and nine days from Jan. 30 - Feb. 7. The two frozen periods were separated by a week with slightly warmer temperatures. During this ‘warm' period, the ice broke up but did not clear out.

While we might see ice along the banks of the river, the Tri-State probably will not see it freeze to the extent that it did in 1977.

According to FOX19 Meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer , the temperatures simply have not remained cold enough for an extended period of time. 1977 saw the coldest stretch from Jan. 16-19. During this time, temperatures remained below zero for 58 consecutive hours. Highs during this period reached a mere 10 degrees and lows plummeted to minus 25.

January of 1977 saw average temperatures of 12 degrees. 1977 saw 141 hours below zero with only six hours above freezing.

In comparison, this January saw an average temperature of 22.9 degrees. Only 67 total hours saw temperatures below zero. A total of 231 hours saw temperatures above freezing.

The longest stretches the Ohio River has been frozen over in Cincinnati:

  • 16 Days: Jan. 25 – Feb. 9, 1940
  • 15 Days: Jan. 14 –28, 1893
  • 14 Days: Feb. 10 -23, 1895
  • 12 Days: Feb. 1 - 12, 1948
  • 10 Days: Jan. 4 - 13, 1879
  • 9 Days: Dec. 30, 1880 – Jan. 7, 1881
  • 9 Days: Feb. 2 - 10, 1905
  • 9 Days: Jan. 5 - 13, 1940
  • 9 Days: Jan. 30 – Feb. 7, 1977
  • 6 Days: Dec. 29,1909 – Jan. 3,1910
  • 6 Days: Jan. 30 – Feb. 4, 1963
  • 6 Days: Jan. 18 - Jan. 23, 1977

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FOX19 viewers submit photos of the Ohio River's recent ice.

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