• Alexander Heller

The winter snow lovers hated

| By Peter Planamente |


The winter of 2019 - 2020 is now in the record books as the second least snowiest winter in the history of the New Jersey and Philadelphia area


Growing up in the Philadelphia area, you would expect at least one snow day per year. There was always that one storm that would build up your excitement and would cause you not to do any homework in the hopes we would be home. But this year was a lot different for the kids.


Philadelphia ended the season with only 0.3” of snow. Yes, 0.3 … I didn't type that wrong. Buffalo, Billings, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Sterling all received higher amounts of snow than Philadelphia. Atlanta was one that did receive less with no measurable snow this season.


It may not have been snowy, but it was an active one with multiple cloudy days, chilly downpours and the occasional snowflake or ice pellet mixing in.


So, why was it such an uneventful winter? Well, you can thank the NAO, North Atlantic Oscillation, which changes to different phases and affects our weather patterns.


When the phase is negative, you can expect arctic Canadian air, sometimes from the polar vortex, to travel down into much of the United States. If storms develop with the perfect conditions, that can give you a big snow event. Though, this year, the NAO was in a positive phase, which brought milder temperatures and more rain.


How mild was it in Philadelphia? There were only two days, between December and March, that had a high temperature below the freezing mark. The coldest day was on December 19 with a high of 29. Otherwise, many days were in the 50s and 60s. Hence why most of the stormy weather was rain instead of snow.


When there was snow, it was a minor event. The airport picked up a trace in November and February, 0.1” in December and 0.2” in January. Philadelphia has not seen an inch of snow in over a year, on March 3, 2019.


Since weather records began being taken, this is the second snow-less winter in Philadelphia history. The 1972-1973 season is in first place with only a trace of snow.


It is not uncommon for some years to be milder and less snowy than others. The most recent was in the 2011-2012 season when there was only 3.7” total. In 2001-2002, only 4” of snow and 1997-1998 had 0.7” total, following the year of The Blizzard of ’96.


But, Philadelphia has had some blockbuster years. The 2009-2010 season is the snowiest ever on record with a total of 78.7” of snow. Three years after, 2013-2014 is the second snowiest with 59.5” total. Of course, everyone remembers the 1995-1996 season with 54” total.


In the last five years, snow has been trending downward. Except for the 2015-2016 season, the seasonal totals have been below average. While I cannot put the total blame on global warming, the evidence is there that winters have been trending milder and less snowy.


Obviously, we will continue seeing snow over the coming years and I am positive Philadelphia we will pick up another big snow storm again.


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