Here’s a look at the seasonal snowfall in the United States this winter.
From the snow-capped Sierras to the snow-capped streets of Boston, it has been an interesting winter across much of the United States. While a warm pattern covered much of the country for much of the winter, a sudden model reversal in February saw cold air pour in from Canada for several weeks, allowing many areas to pass. February and March to catch up with their seasonal snowfall averages. The above snowfall analysis shows snowfall totals from September 30, 2018 to March 31, 2019, highlighting the amount of measurable snowfall in the country this season.
Snow from the West
The same series of storms that inundated California with enough rain to wipe out the state’s drought in just a few weeks also produced successful snowfall in the high altitudes. The Sierras have seen more snow this winter than in the past two years. Most peaks have easily recorded over 25 feet of snow this season which is not only beneficial for the winter sports industry but also for spring and summer snowmelt which is a source of snowfall. critical water for downstream communities.
Seattle, Washington, saw more than three times its total normal seasonal snowfall in just a few weeks in February. Sea-Tac Airport recorded 21 inches of snow this season, which eclipses the 6.8 inches of snow recorded by the airport during an average winter. The heavy snowfall total is the result of a series of storms that coincided with extremely cold air filtering through southern Canada, part of the same cold outbreaks that kept the north central United States so cold this season.
Lots of rain and snow around the Four Corners area helped alleviate the region’s longstanding drought. The southern part of Intermountain West started this winter in exceptional drought, the most severe category on the US Drought Monitor scale for measuring dry conditions. The region has seen enough rain and snow this season to reduce that to moderate drought to the maximum, which isn’t really good on its own, but the improvement is a positive step ahead of the warmer months.
Flooding of the Plains and Midwest
Most of the Upper Midwest and the northern half of the Plains saw a thick blanket of snow during the second half of winter thanks to lingering cold spells that blanketed the region in February. The biggest story of snow on the Plains and the Midwest is how quickly it disappeared when the so-called “bomb cyclone” hit in mid-March. The warm air and heavy rains associated with the storm devoured the snowpack and caused extensive flooding in the area. The flood threat initially triggered by this rapid snowmelt will continue until spring.
Not much snow from the south
A warm winter has forced most of the precipitation to fall in liquid form in the south of the country this year. Packed snow fell as far south as the Texas Gulf Coast and parts of southeastern Louisiana, but it wasn’t something many people will remember in a few years.
One of the strangest snowfall totals on the map is in north central North Carolina. Greensboro, North Carolina recorded 12.8 inches of snow this winter. This is not too unusual in itself. After all, Greensboro receives an average of about 7.5 inches of snow each season. What’s odd, though, is that the Piedmont Triad saw all this snow from a single storm in mid-December, and then there was no measurable snow left the rest of the winter. This is the first time that Greensboro has ended a winter with more than a foot of snow due to a single storm in the entire season.
Two winters in the northeast
The relative lack of classic nor’easters this year means the Northeast has had two different winters depending on where you were. Interior parts of the region have been hit by numerous snowstorms, resulting in above-average snowfall from western New York to Maine. Burlington, Vermont, has seen nearly two feet more snow than they get in an average winter. Buffalo, New York, also recorded well above average results, registering nearly ten feet of snow for the season.
It was a different story closer to the coast. Warmer temperatures and storms approaching the coast meant that most major cities between Washington and Boston saw near-below-average snow, while their inland counterparts saw much more. The only city in the megalopolis that reached its seasonal average was Washington, where the national airport saw about an inch and a half more snow than normal until March 31. Boston saw the least snow compared to normal, recording only 62% of what they usually see each winter. Boston was only six inches taller than Seattle despite an average seasonal snowfall total that is seven times higher.
It’s premature to declare winter snowfall now as we head into April. This is especially the case in the mountains in the west and in the north of the country, where snow can continue to fall deeply until spring. However, climatology and the models shown by weather models indicate that the majority of the United States has seen all the snow it will see this season.