But due to rather gentle winter conditions ever since, the rating for D.C.’s winter severity has fallen to “average.” And “average” is likely to be the final rating for this winter.
Cities score points in the index when it’s particularly cold or snowy compared to long term climate averages (and stays that way, points are earned for persistence). But D.C. is forecast to be unusually mild with no snow in the coming two weeks, so it is running out of time to add points.
D.C. has scored 163 points so far. In its most severe winters, the scores have reached over 350 points (like 1960-1961 and 2009-2010) while fewer than 50 points were earned in its tamest winters (like 1997-1998).
Last winter (2014-2015), D.C. accumulated about 200 points, including about 25 in the second week of March
This year, D.C. racked up a large percentage of its points during the Snowzilla blizzard, enough that its rating for snowfall this winter, by itself, is severe. But it has achieved fewer points for cold and rates only moderate in that category.
Take away Snowzilla, and this was an easy winter.
D.C. joins much of the country in experiencing a winter that fell shy of severe levels.
“Winters are ranging from record mild to near average across all areas east of the Rockies,” says Barbara Mayes Boustead of the National Weather Service, who developed the index in partnership with the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. “In many places, the temperature component of the index is running very mild, while the snowfall component is closer to average. That is the case for D.C., too.”