What a turnaround! You couldn’t buy a spell of snow through January. But, with February’s arrival, Chicago’s snowfall has soared. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the season’s snowfall has come down in just the past three weeks and an odd dichotomy between seasonal and monthly snowfall totals here has developed.
Seasonal snowfall less than half normal but February’s tally well above normal
The city’s 2012-13 seasonal snow tally has reached 13.6”—still paltry and just under half (48%) normal. But February’s contribution to that seasonal figure has surged to 10.1” and the month is running an impressive surplus. Snowfall in February has been 136% normal.
Thursday night’s 8 hours of wind-driven snow produces the city’s biggest single-system accumulation to date
Many Chicagoans slept through the city’s biggest snow system of the season Thursday night. For nearly eight hours—from 10:36 pm Thursday evening to 6:35 am Friday morning—snow fell at a vigorous pace, coming down horizontally in powerful 30 to 40 mph northeast winds.
During that period, four hours recorded visibilities of a half-mile or less at O'Hare, and in some parts of the area, near whiteout conditions. The State Police characterized travel conditions as being "horrible"—and they were! Nearly two dozen accidents and numerous spinouts were reported.
The 2.7” which accumulated at O’Hare tied a comparable Feb 3-4 inch accumulation for the dubious distinction of being the city's heaviest single official 2012-13 season's snow event. But at Midway Airport, Thursday night's 3.3” tally exceeded all others to become the South Side site's biggest of 2012-13 to date.
Month’s above normal snowfall part of a wet pattern which began Jan 27; the period since now ranks 2nd wettest on record since 1871
Precipitation here entered a decidedly wetter phase 27 days ago on January 27, a trend which continues as the area moves into February’s final days. The 4.75” of water equivalent precipitation over that period is only exceeded by the 5.12” which was logged over a comparable period in 1887. That makes this year's January 28 to February 22 period the wettest of any in the past 126 years.
More than half the Lower 48 is now snow-covered; twice the snowpack of a year ago!
NOAA reported Friday that snow now covers 55% of the Lower 48—more than twice last year’s 27% coverage. It’s the highest percentage of the country’s 48 contiguous states to sit beneath a layer of snow in the 10 years since detailed NOAA analyses began.
Final weekend of meteorological winter opens cloudy but finishes with some sun
Meteorological winter ends with March’s arrival this coming Friday. That makes this the final weekend of the meteorological winter season.
It’s to open beneath cloudy skies Saturday. There could even be some passing flurries. But Sunday brings the hope of mixed sunshine’s return.
New Mid-U.S. storm—2nd in less than a week—predicted early next week; warrants careful monitoring here
A powerful new central U.S. storm system is to begin organizing in coming days. A pocket of cold air aloft over western Canada is being powered southeastward into the Lower 48 by strong jet stream winds—a scenario which is to carve out a huge upper air trough (southward dip in jet stream winds) in the days ahead. This development is to induce vigorous “cyclogenesis” (storm development) over the Rockies and Plains for the second time in less than a week.
The predicted system is to be a powerful one and to lift into the Midwest Monday night and Tuesday, raising the potential for wintry weather which would include powerful easterly winds and precipitation possibly ranging in form from a wintry cocktail of sleet, rain and possible snow to wet, possibly significant snowfall over the sections of the Midwest—or possibly both.
The storm’s predicted strength makes it a system which warrants careful scrutiny in the days ahead.