Winter’s wrath has been in the headlines almost every day since late January, with the Blizzard of 2015, the Groundhog Day storm, and the Feb. 8-9 snowstorm. The past two to three weeks have pushed many snow totals in the Northeast far beyond average — but just how much has fallen, and who has it the worst?
Note: You’ll find that none of the top five include the obvious mountain west locations that have undoubtedly received more snow this winter. Nor do they include the smaller cities that do not have climate monitoring stations — snow records are notorious for being difficult to track down. Here we look at cities with a large population that also have snow-reporting stations monitored by the National Weather Service.
5. Syracuse, N.Y. — 74.7 inches
Normal to-date: 87.0
Syracuse has plowed through this winter with solid monthly snowfall totals since November. December was a dry month for most of the Northeast, but Syracuse managed to eke out 17.5 inches of snow, which likely helped them into the No. 5 slot.
Like so many other places on this list, February has been the blockbuster month in upstate New York. In Syracuse, 27.9 inches of snow has fallen so far this month — a steady stream of storms that included 8.8 inches on Groundhog Day alone. In fact, Syracuse has seen snow every day since Jan. 29.
4. Boston — 78.5 inches
Normal to-date: 27.4
If you’re wondering what the big deal is about snow in Boston, this is it: 78.5 inches of snow has fallen in Beantown this winter, which is more than 50 inches beyond what they typically see by now. Even so, you may be skeptical of the superlative. They are used to snow, right?
The most peculiar thing about this season is that of those 78.5 inches, 65.6 of them have fallen in the 16 days since Jan. 27.
It’s difficult to convey the significance of how many records Boston has obliterated this season — 5-, 7-, 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-day snow records all within a couple of weeks, plus the snowiest February on record.
Boston’s Greatest Hits
Blizzard of 2015 — 24.4 inches
Groundhog Day storm — 16.2 inches
Feb. 8-9 — 22.2 inches
It’s now the ninth-snowiest winter on record in Boston, and we’re only halfway through February. With a total of 107.6 inches, 1995-1996 has long held the title of snowiest season on record, but this winter — and really just the past few weeks — is giving it a run for its money.
3. Erie, Pa. — 85.9 inches
Normal to-date: 73.6
Erie and Buffalo — always neck-and-neck in the lake-effect snow belt! It’s usually a good forecast to say that if one is getting lake-effect snow, so is the other.
Erie’s biggest snow day was back on Nov. 13 when 12.6 inches fell. That was the same day that Northeast Ohio — Lake County, in particular — had a couple of feet fall in just an afternoon. After a nearly snowless December, January has been Erie’s snowiest month so far, with 37.4 inches. But, similar to Buffalo, there weren’t any huge snow days to speak of, just persistent lake effect that drove the total up by a few inches every day.
2. Buffalo — 86.4 inches
Normal to-date: 68.8
No single day this winter has given Buffalo more than nine inches of snow, but sometimes “slow and steady” is good enough. All but two days since Jan. 1 have featured at least a trace of snow for the city.
Winter started off with a bang for Buffalo in mid-November, when a “truly insane” lake-effect snow event set up over the region. Over the course of four days, as much as 88 inches of snow fell in the region. Buffalo escaped the worst of that event but still managed to eke out a solid 20.5 inches for the month.
There’s no climate monitoring station in Cowlesville, N.Y., which actually came out on top during the epic lake-effect snow event, with a storm-total accumulation of 88 inches. According to records kept by the National Weather Service, the largest snow event on record in Buffalo was 81.6 inches in 2001, which accumulated over the course of five days. Though it didn’t fall in Buffalo itself, seven feet is a good indicator of a historic snow event in the region, putting the storm at the top of the list — and surely local memory — for a long time to come.
December was a bit of a yawn for Buffalo, with only 11.3 inches of snow having fallen, but January upped the ante with an additional 25 inches, and February has been blockbuster as well, with nearly 30 inches in just 11 days — including 8.2 inches from the Groundhog Day storm.
1. Worcester, Mass. — 92.1 inches
Normal to-date: 40.6
Of all the cities that have been hammered by Old Man Winter over the past few weeks, Boston has received the most media coverage (by far). But it turns out that their Woo-town neighbor to the west takes the prize for most snow so far this season.
The Blizzard of 2015 on Jan. 26-27 was the storm that put Worcester over the top. The city accumulated 34.5 inches of snow during the blizzard, which became the snowiest storm on record for the location. Worcester rounded out January with 55.2 inches of snow, which seemed like plenty enough for the season, until two days later when another 17.4 inches fell during the Groundhog Day storm, and their total climbed to 63.9 inches.
Since then, the city has seen an additional 19.5 inches of snow from a couple different storms, including the Feb. 9 storm. Their seasonal total of 92.1 inches is over 50 inches more than they usually see by mid-February.