This forecast office issues warnings and forecasts for 37 counties, including 24 in northern Indiana, 5 in southern Michigan, and 8 in northwest Ohio. In addition, our office covers parts of extreme southeastern Lake Michigan. This area makes up our County Warning Forecast Area (CWFA).
On March 17, 1998, the Northern Indiana office assumed warning responsibility for these counties. In August of 1999, we moved into our new facility. In September of 1999, we assumed complete forecast responsibility for our entire area.
The office is centrally located in the CWFA in northeastern Kosciusko County, half-way between our two largest metropolitan areas. To the northwest is the South Bend area, which includes the larger towns of Mishawaka, Elkhart, Goshen, and Saint Joseph-Benton Harbor. To the southeast is the Fort Wayne area, including New Haven and many rural communities. Total population in the CWFA is about 2.1 million.
The CWFA covers 15,875 square miles. Its 37 counties are fairly uniform in size and shape. The largest county is Allen County, Indiana, with 657 square miles. The smallest county is Blackford County, with 165 square miles. Four pairs of counties have the same name in different states within the CWFA: Saint Joseph IN and MI, Cass IN and MI, Allen IN and OH, and Fulton IN and OH.
We experience all four seasons here, along with a significant microclimate along Lake Michigan. Winters are cloudy, cold, and snowy. Most of the CWFA averages 25 to 40 inches of snowfall per year, but the counties closest to Lake Michigan receive up to 80 inches per year thanks to lake effect snows. Spring and summer are warm and periodically stormy. June is the dominant month for severe weather. Autumn is cool, and is often affected by the warm waters of Lake Michigan resulting in lake effect clouds and later first frosts within a county or two of the lake.