Where has the snow gone?

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Washingtonians longing for snow have largely been disappointed during the 2016-2017 winter season. Following three consecutive snowier-than-average winters in the Nation’s Capital, this winter has seen only 1.4” of snow or less than 10% of the seasonal average of 15.4”. The last time area residents experienced three or more consecutive winters with at or above average snowfall was in the mid-1980s.

The weather pattern has not been favorable for snow in the Mid-Atlantic Region this winter due to above average temperatures in combination with below average precipitation dating back to last May. That’s not to say there haven’t been rainy days or cold days, but they have just been few and far between.

December 2016 was the sixth consecutive warmer than average December in Washington, D.C. The last time December was colder than average locally was in 2010. 

By comparison, six of the last nine Januarys have been colder than average in the Nation’s Capital. Last month was a notable exception because it was more than six degrees warmer than average in Washington, D.C. National Weather Service data also indicates this month is nearly six degrees warmer than average through February 14.

When the high temperature reached 74 degrees on February 8, it was the warmest February temperature in the Nation’s Capital since 2011. That was also the last time there were consecutive February days with high temperatures in the 70s. You have to go back to 2008 to find the last time 70-degree warmth occurred in both January and February in Washington, D.C.  NOAA’s temperature outlook for the next two weeks calls for milder than average weather for much of the eastern United States. That’s terrible news for winter weather enthusiasts.

Where has the bulk of the snow been this winter? Let’s look first at Bangor, Maine, where there has been 36.1” of snow so far this month. That makes this their sixth snowiest February on record and the month is only a little more than half over. 

Meanwhile, the series of storms from the Pacific Ocean that have been buffeting the West Coast have brought appreciable rain and mountain snows to California. Colorado State University scientist, Dr. Philip Klotzbach, recently pointed out that the Mammoth Mountain ski resort in California had 69 inches of snow during the first 10 days of February. That’s more snow than the combined 53 inches that fell there in all of February 2015 and February 2016.

Although Washingtonians have had some appreciable March snowfall in recent years, there’s an old adage in weather forecasting that says “the trend is your friend.” That essentially means that while snow can occur in late February and March in the DC Metro Region, the odds are against it this winter given the predominantly warmer and drier than average weather that’s been dominant.

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