Meteorological winter has ended, and the statistics in terms of warmth are amazing. The meteorological winter of 2015-2016 marks the second warmest three-month period of December to February on record. The warmest was the winter of 2001 to 2002, but only by a small margin.
There were 35 days that reached 50 degrees or higher during this period, nine of entered into the 60s. This was the most number of 50-plus days ever recorded during what meteorologists call winter and beat the previous record by six, set back in 1932-1933.
The warmth is quite remarkable. If you string the warm days together into a month, we basically what should be one of the three coldest months of the year feel more like April. This is one of the reasons so many plants are already growing and, in some cases, never really went fully dormant.
We did have one very cold stretch during Valentine’s weekend. Boston reached 9 below zero on the 14th, which was the coldest morning since 1957. The high for the day averaged 30 degrees below average, the most extreme day of the month.
The snowfall is rather interesting, too. Of the 126 winters in the database, this winter was the 80th least snowy; in other words, there are 46 other winters with less snow. You might find this surprising since it seems like we haven’t much snow at all.
Part of the reason this winter isn’t going to be remembered for snow or cold is because of the warmth. Even in winters with a lot of snow, if the ground periodically opens up, it gives all of us the feeling of a break in the action. Last winter when the ground became snow-covered the final week of January, it didn’t open up in many areas until early April. This meant 9-10 weeks of white snow banks and a feeling of claustrophobia. When the snow is piled high, our available world shrinks. The impact to our collective psyche is palpable.
During two snow events, on February 5 and 8, Boston received over 6 inches of snow. Worcester had over a foot on the 5th and just less than 6 inches from the storm on the 8th. For the month, both Worcester and Boston ended up with roughly 5 inches more than average snowfall.
The warmth is really the theme and why our ground is bare at the end of February in stark contrast to last year. The maps below show snowfall on the final day of meteorological winter this year and how it compares with roughly the same time last year:
The differences are stark and, unfortunately, for many ski areas, may mean an early end to what’s been a season filled with a lot of spring skiing, no matter what the calendar has said.