Most of the Lower 48 United States has been snow challenged during the winter of 2011-2012. But of a select set of major cities, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. have the nation’s biggest snowfall deficits.
Charm City and our Nation’s Capital have received just 11 and 17 percent (or about 2”) of their average year-to-date snowfall (of about 12 to 17”), respectively.
Snowfall data indicate almost all of the U.S. cities (that average at least 10” of snow year-to-date) analyzed* have received less snow than normal.
One of the few cities with substantially above average snow? Denver.
The biggest snowfall shortfalls were identified in the northern mid-Atlantic (including Philadelphia in addition to Baltimore and D.C.), but the Northeast’s snow production has also been severely depressed. For example, Boston has received less than 25% of its typical snow output.
Substantial snowfall deficits also focus in the Midwest with cities like St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Indianapolis having received less than half their usual snow.
Cities in the Ohio Valley have fared slightly better. Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh have all received at least two-thirds of their normal (to date) snow total. But none of the cities examined in this region had above average snowfall.
An unusually mild weather pattern has prevailed over much of the Lower 48 states since winter started. Cold air - for the most part - has been trapped in the Arctic, making few prolonged excursions southward. January ranked as the 4th warmest on record in the U.S.
Both the lack of cold air and a lack of storminess have resulted in decreased snow production.
The situation has been far different in Alaska, which experienced heavy snow in December and record cold in January. Anchorage - with 106” of snow so far, may close in on its snowiest winter on record. And one of the worst cold snaps in decades gripped Europe in early-to-mid February, with snowfall in Romania piling as high as 13-16 feet.
* This was not a comprehensive analysis. A geographically diverse set of U.S. cities was selected to give a general sense of snowfall production but it’s possible a more extensive analysis might reveal some locations with bigger snowfall deficits and/or more cities with snowfall surpluses