The second week of February is often prime time for a big snowstorm in the eastern US, especially here in Maryland. Considering that I called for a cold and snowy winter based on many reasons, the stats played a big role in my call.
A lot of the science of meteorology is math intensive. So documenting the highs, lows, and everything in between on a daily basis serves a purpose. Some of us treat it like a sports statistician, and sometimes patters show that are worth pointing out.
The most famous pattern has been December 5th (date with destiny) as the first snow of the season in Baltimore. I tracked it for a decade, and we had a good streak proving this true. Ironically that started in 2002 with a record 7.4” of snow at BWI, one year to the day after the record high of 75F was set in 2001.
Is Baltimore for a big snowstorm?
Looking at a typical season based on 1981-2010 average data, Baltimore’s BWI gets 20 inches of snow. Almost half of that occurs in the month of February with a typical 8 inches. The snowiest month was February 2010 with a total of 50 inches (2.5 times normal).
Two distinct patterns show up within this snowy period. They appear in the records and cross paths this week.
1) Every 3 to 4 years: A storm with over 10 inches of snowfall. This has been tracked for two decades without fail. Note that 3 of these ‘events’ occurred in the same season.
1993: 11.9” on March 13-14
1996: 26.6” on January 7-9
2000: 14.9” on January 25
2003: 28.2” on February 15-18 *Top storm on record
2006: 13.1” on Feb 11-12
2009: 18.0” on Dec 18-19
2010: 25.0” on Feb 5-6
2010: 19.5” on Feb 9-10
2) February 5-19th Prime Time for Big Storms: Almost half of the top snowstorms since 1891 fell during a 2-week period on the calendar. Of the 22 storms on the list, 10 events fell during this short stretch. The chart in the slide show is listed by amount, but here is the list by date. *Also see our pre-sleep snowfall checklist for kids and teachers.
Feb 5-8 1899: 11.7”
Feb 5-6 2010: 24.8”
Feb 9-10 2010: 19.5”
Feb 11-12 2006: 13.1”
Feb 11-14 1899: 21.4”
Feb 11-12 1983: 22.8”
Feb 15-16 1958: 15.5”
Feb 15-18 1892: 16.0”
Feb 15-18 2003: 28.2” *Top all time storm
Feb 16-18 1900: 12.0”
Feb 18-19 1979: 20.0”
If you consider the halfway point between the two-week period, February 12 and 13 are the sweet spot. It just so happens we have a potentially large snow storm on those dates this year. So we will see if history and statistics will prove itself once again.
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