Philadelphia Weather: Looking Back At Last Year's Record-Breaking Nor'easter
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Spring has arrived and though it may feel as though we suffered through a long and painful winter, in reality, it was a relatively quiet one in comparison to the average year. While it's too soon to say that snow is over for the region – we've had measurable snow as late as April 27 – we're heading into spring on a mild note.
It's a big change from last year when we began spring with snow. In fact, it was the fourth of four March nor'easters in the area last year and brought record-breaking snow on March 21, the second day of the new season. Overall, Philadelphia received over seven inches of snow with that storm.
Last year had a very wintry start to spring, and the March 21 snow broke an 86-year-old record.
This year has been different all around.
While the chill came in early and we had spells of very cold weather, the general storm pattern was characterized by systems that had plenty of moisture but not enough cold air.
We had a number of storms that began as snow but finished as rain, or storms that drew in mild air and became plain rainmakers, even if the initial forecast looked promising. It was a season that had plenty of potential but ultimately has fallen short of the average as far as snowfall.
As of the official end of winter, we picked up 17.1 inches of snow this season, which is around five inches below the season average, which is 22.2 inches.
Last year, we came in above average with 29.8 inches and over 15 inches fell in March alone.
Climatically, this year was different from last. This year featured a weak but slowly strengthening El Nino, meaning warmer ocean water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. Last year, it was a La Nina pattern. El Nino patterns like this winter tend to feature high variability and the potential for big, moisture-laden storms.
But they can also be characterized by storms that have a lot of messy mixing potential in our region. The El Nino is forecast to continue through the fall and then begin to weaken into next winter.
March has certainly been kinder to us in 2019 than 2018. As we head into spring, we'll be facing a rainstorm, not a snowstorm this time around.
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