Sunshine's return welcomed in a cloudier than normal February

Chicagoans are likely to enjoy the sunshine predicted Thursday and Friday. Sun’s been in shorter than usual supply in recent days — in fact much of the month. The metro area has received 25% less February sun than a year ago and 13% less than average. With 15.5″ of snow to its credit, February’s been the snowiest here in 29 years. It’s not surprising such a month would fall short in the sunshine department. To date, only a third (33%) of the month’s “normal” sunshine has been logged — way down from the 58% on the books a year ago. A typical February hosts 46% of its possible sun.

While the Southwest and West are awash in unseasonably mild air, cold air remains in firm control over much of the eastern three-quarters of the nation. Frost and freeze warnings were posted for a second consecutive night across north Florida and are likely to be issued again Thursday night. That area’s been shivering in chilly nighttime temperatures, as an atmospheric blocking pattern continues holding cold air in place east of the Rockies. 

Florida lows dropped below freezing early Wednesday in Tallahassee (23 degrees), Jacksonville (27), Apalachicola (29) and Panama City (32), and sub-freezing temperatures were predicted a third of the way down the Florida Peninsula overnight.

In marked contrast, residents of the Southwest and West continue basking in unseasonably warm air. Phoenix topped out at 78 degrees Wednesday while downtown Los Angeles recorded 80. The mild air extended north along the West Coast and included a 64-degree high in San Francisco and 51 degrees in Seattle. 

Chicago’s been snowier than Anchorage, Alaska

The winter 2009-10 pattern across North America, dominated by cold air in the east and mild air far west, has contributed to the production of more snow in Chicago to date (45.4″) than the 44.4″ thus far in Anchorage, Alaska.
Period of early weekend light snow may be followed by more important Midwest snow-maker
The first of two snowy spells expected to impact sections of the Midwest including Chicago in the coming week is just days away. Light snow may streak into the area for a time Saturday — but a more substantive snow system is being monitored for late Sunday into Monday. That one’s currently off the West Coast but is expected to sweep across the Rockies early in the coming weekend. The track it follows is likely to influence how it distributes its snowfall.
Projections generated by National Weather Service supercomputers late Wednesday hint at a potentially significant snow event centered on central Illinois and Indiana late Sunday into Monday — but with snows likely to extend north into Chicago where some accumulation may also occur. A more northerly track — with the center of the system crossing central rather than southern Illinois and Indiana — could shift that system’s most significant snowfall north into the Chicago area. That scenario will be monitored very closely in the days ahead as the Pacific system comes ashore, where its structure can be more thoroughly measured by land-based weather balloons.
45 of the 167 biggest Chicago snows (6″-plus) have occurred beyond this date

About a third of Chicago’s measurable snows occur from this point in the season forward. And, of the 167 six-inch or greater snows which have occurred here over 125 years of records here, 45 of them (33%) have occurred from Feb. 18 forward.

Was snow found in all 50 states on Feb. 12?

Dear Tom,
If there was snow coverage in all of the lower 48 states and Alaska, as was reported, would that not mean there was snow coverage in all 50 states? I believe the tops of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea always have snow.

–Jean Cavanaugh

Dear Jean,
It was reported, erroneously, that 49 of the 50 states had snow on the ground on Feb. 12, with Hawaii standing alone as the only snow-free state. Further investigation revealed that every state in the United States had at least some snow on the ground on Feb. 12. Photographs provided by hikers near the summit of Mauna Kea (elevation: 13,796 feet) verified there were a few tiny snow patches (a foot or two across) Feb. 12. Let’s correct the record: Every state, 50 out of 50, reported at least some snow Feb. 12. However, please note that Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are snow-free most of the time.

Snow in the Eternal City- February 12, 2010

Much like the snow that has fallen this winter in many cities across the southern U.S. snow also fell in Rome last week. The city was hit by a sticking snowfall on February 12.  These pictures were taken by Fabrizio di Meo. Our thanks go out to David Lastrucci of Mount Prospect for helping us get permission to post these pictues from  Fabrizio.


Photos by Fabrizio di Meo Rome

Photos from recent snowstorm in Pittsburgh

The pictures below were taken in the Pittsburgh area after the historic snowstorm that walloped the East Coast earlier this month.  The photos are from Paula Oltrogge, who took a picture of a neighbor’s tree with broken limbs as a result of the heavy snow. She also witnessed deer who seemed to be “swimming” in the snow since it was so deep. Thanks Paula for the great photos!




Photos courtesy of Paula Oltrogge