February Snow Information

I think that even the wimpiest of us would agree that we have had a mild winter so far. That may or may not change in the coming weeks, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss today.

We’re at roughly what I consider to be mid-winter. I may not be correct officially or technically, but it’s a good working model. A little bit of November, all of December, January, February and March, plus a bit of April… early February is smack dab in the middle of that.

With that in mind, let’s sort through some weather facts and speculation that may get you some proper mojo for those times when you ponder the weather at great lengths.

There will be a bit of a Boston focus, as I have a lot of Boston weather data handy. Your town may be different, but it’s good enough to work with. I’m leaning heavily on a Weather Channel page. I refuse to use Winter Storm Names.

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– Some of our worst storms, like the Blizzard of ’78, came in the shortest month of he year.

-Top Boston Snowstorms
1. Feb. 17-18, 2003: 27.6 inches
2. Feb. 6-7, 1978: 27.1 inches
3. Feb. 24-26, 1969: 25.8 inches
4. Mar. 31 – Apr. 1, 1997: 25.4 inches
5. Feb. 8-9, 2013: 24.9 inches
6. Jan. 26-28, 2015: 24.6 inches
7. Feb. 7-10, 2015: 23.8 inches
8. Jan. 22-23, 2005: 22.5 inches
9. Jan. 20-21, 1978: 21.4 inches
10. Mar. 3-5, 1960: 19.8 inches

– Three of Boston’s five snowiest months (including #1 overall, with a bullet) were, as you’ll see, various forms of February.

– People looking at Top Boston Snowstorms charts in the future will be like, “Damn, it must have sucked in 2015 to get 24.6 inches of snow on January 28th and then get 23.8″ on February 7th,” and they could quite possibly be completely unaware that there was also a Groundhog Day blizzard in 2015 that did like 18″. We just fail to mention it, because History of any sort is full of these little nuances.

– Top Snowfall Totals For A Month in Boston, and remember that you lose about 10% of the calendar with February:
1. February 2015: 64.8 inches
2. January 2005: 43.3 inches
3. January 1945: 42.3 inches
4. February 2003: 41.6 inches
5. February 1969: 41.3 inches

– It’s odd that December or March didn’t force their way in the mix up there in that list. I suppose that Spring is asserting herself by March, and that the ground is too warm in December.

– April, which has had some heavy blizzard-type snowfalls, just doesn’t get enough follow-up events to break into that very close (one inch of snow stands between the second worst month of snow ever and the fifth worst) pile of months that make up rankings-2-5.

– March had a 19.8 inch head-start in 1960 and failed to get near the top 5. April had about 24″ by April 1st of 1997, but couldn’t generate enough powda to be a true player.

– Barnstable, which is in the middle of Cape Cod and gets Gulf Stream water, has had a worse winter so far than more-northern Boston has chalked up. Boston has had 10″ of snow this winter, while parts of Cape Cod took in 15″ of snow from just that last storm.

– Boston does about 43.6″ of snow per winter. I think that Barnstable clocks 25″ or so per winter.

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– Boston’s 10 Worst Winters:
1. 2014-2015: 110.6 inches

2. 1995-1996: 107.6 inches
3. 1993-1994: 96.3 inches
4. 1947-1948: 89.2 inches
5. 2004-2005: 86.6 inches
6. 1977-1978: 85.1 inches
7. 1992-1993: 83.9 inches
8. 2010-2011: 81.0 inches
9. 1915-1916: 79.2 inches
10. 1919-1920: 73.4 inches

– Notice that nearly 2 feet of snow stand between #2 and #5 on this list, while 1 inch stands between #2 and #5 in snowiest months. Those were some genuinely awful winters.

– Boston got 94.4 inches of snow in the thirty days between January 24th and February 22nd, 2015. It would be the third snowiest winter overall, just those 30 days.

– Any kid about 25 years old or so who has lived here all of his life can hold his own with any old-timer, no matter how salty he may be, in a discussion about difficult Boston winters. Even a 105 year old man will have only seen three other winters that would place in the top ten.

– A 128 year old man would have seen the Blizzard of 1888, albeit as a child. However, at that point, the 128 year old man would be more interesting than Blizzard of 1888 discussion.

– Old folks would have recourse against whippersnappers in things like Ice Storms and Really, Really Cold Weather. It generally goes without saying that this current generation has better plowing and forecasting. It also generally goes without saying that old people have a better feel for the weather, and always will.

– In 2015, Boston had a Boston-record 37″ snow pack. We had 6 feet of snow fall between January 24th and February 10th, and 90″ between 1/24 and 2/15. We had 4 days where we had at least 12 inches of snow (a record shared with 1978 and 1960-61). Boston had 6 days in a row with at least a half-inch of snow. They also had 28 straight days where the temperature didn’t get above 20.

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– Some perspective:

Heaviest One-Day Snowfall (inches and centimeters)
Georgetown, Colorado 63 160 Dec 4 1913
Thompson Pass, Alaska 62 157 Dec 29 1955
Giant Forest, California 60 152 Jan 19 1933
Mount Washington, NH 49 125 Feb 25 1969
Millegan, Montana 48 122 Dec 27 2003
Gunn’s Ranch, Washington 48 122 Jan 21 1935
Deadwood, South Dakota 47 119 Mar 14 1973
Watertown, New York 45 114 Nov 15 1900
Heber Ranger Station, Arizona 38 97 Dec 14 1967
Morgantown, Pennsylvania 38 97 Mar 20 1958
Wolf Ridge, Minnesota 36 91 Jan 7 1994

Snowiest Average Winters, (inches and centimeters)
Mt Rainier, Washington 671 1704
Alta, Utah 546 1387
Crater Lake Park, Oregon 483 1226
Brighton, Utah 411 1044
Echo Summit, California 407 1035

Most Days With Snowfall
Mt Rainier, Paradise Station, Washington 121.4
Mt Washington, New Hampshire 118.5
Climax Mine, Colorado 104.4
Crater Lake Park Headquarters, Oregon 101.3
Shemya Island, Alaska 98.3
Yellowstone Park South Entrance, Wyoming 94.5

Snowiest Large US Cities, Average Year, (inches and centimeters)
Rochester, New York 99.5 252.7
Buffalo, New York 94.7 240.5
Cleveland, Ohio 68.1 173.0
Salt Lake City, Utah 56.2 142.7
Minneapolis, Minnesota 54.0 137.2
Denver, Colorado 53.8 136.7
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 46.9 119.1
Boston, Massachusetts 43.8 111.3
Detroit, Michigan 42.7 108.5
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 41.9 106.4
Hartford, Connecticut 40.5 102.9
Chicago, Illinois 36.7 93.2
Providence, Rhode Island 33.8 85.9
Columbus, Ohio 27.5 69.9
Indianapolis, Indiana 25.9 65.8
New York, New York 25.1 63.8

– Boston, and Massachusetts in general, rules ‘Merica in one weather-related category… Wind Speed. Boston has an average wind speed of 12.4 mph. Massachusetts owns 4 of the top 5 spots when ranked among cities with more than 50,000 people. Weymouh, Brockton, Framingham, Newton, Peabody, Waltham, Quincy, Lowell, Brookline, and Lynn are all in the top 20.

Windiest US Cities (>50,000 people)
1. Weymouth Town, MA (housing) (pop. 55,419) 14.7 mph
2. Brockton, MA (housing) (pop. 94,089) 14.3 mph
3. Framingham, MA (housing) (pop. 68,318) 13.6 mph
4. Amarillo, TX (housing) (pop. 196,429) 13.3 mph
5. Weymouth, MA (housing) (pop. 54,393) 13.2 mph
6. Cheyenne, WY (housing) (pop. 62,448) 12.9 mph
7. Fort Collins, CO (housing) (pop. 152,061) 12.8 mph
8. Newton, MA (housing) (pop. 87,971) 12.7 mph
9. Casper, WY (housing) (pop. 59,628) 12.7 mph
10. Waltham, MA (housing) (pop. 62,227) 12.6 mph
11. Loveland, CO (housing) (pop. 71,334) 12.6 mph
12. Quincy, MA (housing) (pop. 93,494) 12.5 mph
13. Greeley, CO (housing) (pop. 96,539) 12.5 mph
14. Rochester, MN (housing) (pop. 110,742) 12.5 mph
15. Great Falls, MT (housing) (pop. 59,351) 12.5 mph
16. Peabody, MA (housing) (pop. 52,044) 12.5 mph
17. Brookline, MA (housing) (pop. 58,732) 12.5 mph
18. Lowell, MA (housing) (pop. 108,861) 12.5 mph
19. Lubbock, TX (housing) (pop. 239,538) 12.4 mph
20. Lynn, MA (housing) (pop. 91,589) 12.4 mph
21. Boston, MA (housing) (pop. 645,966) 12.4 mph

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