Winter\'s Worst Month
Special Report: Winter's Worst Month
That's right, but looking back at blizzard of 78, a lot of people wonder why it packed such a powerful punch, and that has a lot to do with when it fell. Let's take a look at some other big storms in "Winter's Worst Month."
It is no secret New England can be cold, bitter, and snow-filled. But when it comes to the worst month for winter weather, what would you put your money on?
"I think February."
"It always seems February."
"I would say February."
That's right! Not only is February the snowiest month of the year on average, but 6 of the top 10 biggest snowfalls recorded in Bostonís history all fell in this month. Let's take a look starting with the granddaddy of them all.
Harvey Leonard Covering Blizzard
"We think it's going to be a big one. One of the biggest of the winter."
In fact, it turned out to be the biggest of century - the blizzard of '78. As most New Englander's will recall, we were hit with devastating snow and hurricane force winds
It all happened on February 6 & 7th and buried us with an all time record of 27.1 inches. Next up was the 100-hour storm from Feb. 24th to Feb. 28th 1969. We had a total of 26.3 inches.
February 16, 1958 was the third biggie. We had 19.4 inches of snow on the ground. Not so long ago was February 8, 1994 where over a foot and a half of snow came. And then on February 5, 1920, the area was left with 17.3 inches and a year later on February 20th we had 16.5 inches.
All of these big snowstorms have something else in common besides the month, they were all powerful northeasters. One of the main reasons New England gets clobbered with northeasters in February has a lot to do with the ocean. This is because the ocean temperatures are generally coldest during this month.
In January, we typically have a jet stream that runs flat across the country. But in February, we begin to see big variations as arctic air plunges southward from Canada, low pressure develops off the southeast coast of U.S. The storm heading northward clashes with colder air and explodes off our coast becoming the northeaster.
Former state climatologist Bob Lautzenheiser has seen it all and agrees February is the month to watch.
"Even though itís a shorter month, it still has more heavy snows than any other month."
Bob Lautzenheiser, Former State Climatologist
When we talk about that average jet stream in February and we see those big potentials for storms mixing with the cold ocean and the cold air in Canada, we're not seeing that pattern every winter and certainly not this one and certainly not this February so far. Instead of this, we're getting a much flatter looking jet stream, and instead of Canadian air, we're getting more Pacific air coming across the country trapping the cold air to the north and not allowing the jet stream to dig down and develop big northeasters. So instead, we're getting weaker storms and very often we find ourselves milder when we get the storms.
To show you how weak the storms are, we have a drought advisory because we've been in a dry pattern for a long time. I can tell you for the foreseeable future, the pattern is not going to change so February will be easy for a while longer.