Well, we are nearing the end of meteorological winter, which in terms of climate and weather records ends February 28th. This is confusing to some because the recognized date of spring is March 20th.
March 20th is the technical first day of spring based on the earth’s position relative to the sun. This is the ‘real’ start to spring. But in terms of weather patterns, this is when we start shifting to more ‘spring-like’ weather. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean warmth, but actually more rollercoaster weather.
Milder temperatures over the next few days have everyone thinking of spring warmth and the end to winter weather, but in fact, some of the biggest snowstorms we’ve seen have been in the spring!
Let me refresh your memory…
The 1993 Superstorm or the “Storm of the Century” happened March 12-15th 1993. This was a major storm that brought crippling snow from Maine to as far south as Alabama and even Florida! The highest snow amount was Mount LeConte, TN at 56 inches! 10-20 inches stretched from Alabama to Maine with most in western Mass under that range.
Tornadoes in southern Florida and severe flooding occurred. Winds gusted to hurricane strength up and down the east coast. Boston recorded a wind gust of 81mph and Mount Washington recorded a 144mph gust!
Every major airport on the east coast was closed at one time or another by the storm - a first. This storm was also notable for being the first time states could declare a state of emergency before snow even started.
Another big one, Great White Hurricane of 1888 - March 12-15. 40-60" of snow dumped on New England. As a response from this storm, New York and Boston began working on plans for an underground transportation system (NYC Subway, The T).
March 2-5, 1960: The worst Nantucket blizzard on record left behind 31.3 inches of snow. The storm was centered off Cape Cod. All of eastern Massachusetts felt hurricane force winds and got 20-30 inches of snow.
And most here in western Mass remember March 31 - April 1, 1997:
The April Fool's Day Blizzard dumped up to three feet of wet snow on the northeast and left hundreds of thousands of people without power. The storm immobilized Boston for days with over 25 inches of snow and high winds with gusts of 50-70 mph. The tip of one of the masts of the USS Constitution broke off in the storm.
Worcester picked up 33 inches of snow and we saw a range of 10 inches to 30 in western Mass!
And after doing some digging, this gem in MAY or 1977:
A freak snowstorm brought 6-12 inches of snow to western Mass. After a very cold winter (flurries in Miami kind of cold), I guess it made sense to have winter extended a little longer than normal. Hundreds of thousands lost power due to the heavy, wet snow and all the foliage that was back on trees at the time.
Boston picked up a half inch-the first time snow had been recorded in May in over 100 years. Worcester picked up a whopping 12.7” and Providence 7.5”.
And while we didn’t get a big snowstorm, last year on April 3-4, 2016 we had two clipper systems back-to-back that dropped 1.5" and 4", respectively. That boosted our seasonal totals to 23.9", which was enough to knock us out of the top 5 least snowiest winters for W.Mass.
On average, we receive our last inch of snowfall for the season in April, as we average 1.6” for the month. Snow in May isn’t unheard of, however. Statistically speaking, we average 0.1” for the month, with the biggest 24hr snowfall for the month registering 4.5”.
The moral of the story? Spring might be nearing and temperatures might be gradually getting warmer, but don’t count out Old Man Winter… he’s a sneaky guy.