It's not just your imagination. Data released today by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration show that nearly two dozen states had among their top 10 coldest Februaries on record. And Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago had their most frigid temperatures for the month ever.
If you're wondering what the economic costs of 2015's bitter blast are, reinsurer AON Benfield pegs the overall impact in the "low-digit billions of dollars," adding that insured losses will likely exceed $1 billion.
Economists, though, aren't worried because of the enormous size of the U.S. economy, which has a GDP of more than $17 trillion. From their vantage point, the weather is a nuisance that will shave a few tenths of a percent off GDP, but that activity can easily be made up at a later date. Also, economic data is seasonally adjusted to reflect the impact of the weather.
"The overall economic impact (of this winter) is small," said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Analytics, in an interview. "The winter is bad, but compared to last year it's fairly mild from an economic standpoint. ... When you get very disruptive weather that you had last year, it's worse than the seasonal adjustments, and it causes chaos in the data."
According to NOAA, the winter of 2013-2014 was the 33rd coldest on record and that shaved about 1.5 percentage points from GDP in last year's first quarter. In comparison, this year Commodity Weather Service, a private weather forecaster, says cities such as New York and Philadelphia have seen less snowfall than last year. But Boston has been pounded with 105.7 inches of snow in 2015 versus 58.9 inches in 2014. The city just endured its snowiest February on record.
AON Benfield noted five separate incidents of heavy snow and frigid temperatures that pummeled parts of the U.S. during February. Not only did the wintry mess result in 72 deaths, but also it disrupted transportation in major metropolitan areas. During one storm between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4, more than 6,800 flights were canceled and more than 100,000 customers lost power.
The weather's economic impact was visible in many areas.
Auto sales were hurt with General Motors (GM), Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANY) among the automakers posting disappointing results. Ford Motor (F) and Volkswagen (VLKAY) both reported declines. Retailers such as Dicks Sporting Goods (DKS) said their business was also affected by the weather, although Dicks' overall results were better than Wall Street expected.
Weather costs appear in many places. Take road salt, used to melt ice on roadways. Demand from local and state governments are so high this year that suppliers such as Cargill are scrambling to keep up.
"An unfortunate fact is customers can use the salt faster than we can replenish it," according to a statement Cargill provided CBS MoneyWatch. "We are working with customers to prioritize the hot spots and get salt to customers with the greatest need. We are shipping as fast as we can and working around the clock to meet the extraordinary demand."
A study commissioned by the American Highway Users Alliance estimated the impact of a widespread one-day winter shutdown at between $300 million and $700 million.