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Record Shattering Cold & Historic Snow

Posted on Mar 16, 2015

To be entirely honest I meant to write this blog entry a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I have been busy during that time with meetings, gearing up for spring and summer projects, surveying, and much more. Nevertheless, I could not get myself too excited to write about the unbelievably and astonishingly historic cold we have had this winter, especially in February, or the feet of snow dumped on the region, rewriting more records for some locations. After feeling the first signs of spring in the past week I feel renewed, ready for the thaw and once again energized about our weather and climate. For a meterological nerd like myself recent weeks have been entertaining to say the least.

Let’s hit the top story: February’s snowfall departure and temperature departure.



Those maps are frighteningly frigid for nearly everyone, and folks in the upper Mid-Atlantic and Midwest felt the largest drop as compared to average. Is “drop” an appropriate word? The thermometers fell off a cliff and imploded in comedic fashion. In fact, as you can see in the table below, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, and Islip, New York, along with Hartford and Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Worcester, Massachusetts had their all-time coldest month. That’s right, February 2015 was the coldest month ever recorded for all of those locations! It was the second coldest month of all-time for six more climate stations, and it ranked as the coldest February ever for 15 sites.


Worcester had the distinct honor of also putting up its snowiest month of all-time during this cold stretch, with Providence also breaking that barrier and Boston shattering it. Beantown’s normal snowfall in February is 10.9 inches, and they received 64.8 for a departure of 53.9!


The overall meterological winter (December through February) unsurprisingly ended up as the snowiest of all-time for Boston and Worcester with the Atlantic Coast of New England once again being a focal point of major snowstorms, as the departure map shows. This may be a developing climate change symptom as it keeps happening with a certain section of the region being hit with crippling snowfall each year while the Mid-Atlantic, outside of the lake effect areas, stays less snowy than usual.


The temperature departure map requires you to leave the entirety of the Northeast if you want to find any temperatures above normal. This is also a potential major effect of climate change, with the jet stream remaining “stuck” in a particular alignment across North America. As was the case last winter we had a ridge parked over the west, keeping everywhere from California and surrounding states up to Alaska baking in relative heat with dry conditions, while the trough sat over us in the east, keeping the polar dome closed and wet weather in play.


I really hope this does not happen once again next winter, and I do not mean that from a purely selfish sick-of-cold-and-snow standpoint. Western parts of the United States really need to have at least “normal” conditions, and hopefully very cool and wet ones, before there is an even larger environmental catastrophe and water is even more scarce than it is now.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator