This photo to the left pretty much describes it; the winter of 2011-2012 was a big tease for snow lovers but smooth sailing for those waiting to hear the chant of robins. It was a winter of a little snow, no major ice storms and a few rain showers. The storm track stayed either too far west or too far south to bring the D.C. region any snow.
Now that the three coldest months which define Meteorological Winter (December, January and February) are just about over, here’s the breakdown of snowfall totals at the major airports in our region.
|Reagan National Airport||2.0 inches; Winter Average: 12.7 inches|
|Dulles International Airport||3.7 inches; Winter Average: 18.4 inches|
|BWI Thurgood Marshal Airport||1.8 inches; Winter Average: 17.9 inches|
There is still room for some fresh powder in March! Average snowfall in March is 1.3 inches at Reagan National. However, the snowiest March on record in the District dates way back to 1914 when 19.3 inches accumulated. The driest March is in much more recent time; 0.05 inches of precipitation accumulated in 2006.
This year’s winter seasonal snowfall just follows the trend of the last five years (minus the 2009-2010 winter with the back to back blizzards in February and one in December) in the Nation's Capital.
|2010-2011 Winter:||10.1 inches|
|2009-2010 Winter:||56.1 inches|
|2008-2009 Winter:||7.5 inches|
|2007-2008 Winter:||4.9 inches|
|2006-2007 Winter:||9.5 inches|
This winter wasn't just a far cry from average in the D.C. region but even the typical snowy areas in the Shenandoah Valley and farther west along the Allegheny Ridge didn't get much of the white stuff. Hagerstown, Md., has only seen 9.4 inches while Frostburg, Md., only had half of its seasonal average of 40 to 60 inches.
Now that we have established this winter has been like several in recent memory with lack of snow... it's important to note how dry of a year it has been so far. Precipitation is down 2 inches from average since the start of the year. March typically brings 3.60 inches of precipitation but then we trend drier through spring into summer. Average precipitation in April is 2.77 inches, May is 3.82 inches and June averages 3.13 inches.
Having already started the year on the dry side with no snowpack to preserve and add to the top few layers of the soil (upon melting), if we don’t have sufficient rain this spring, brush fire danger could be escalated. This typically occurs before the foliage returns because without the leaves on the trees evaporating moisture into the air, relative humidity can drop significantly on dry, sunny and windy spring days. Having very little moisture at the surface from recent dry weather only exasperates red flag or fire danger.
Let’s hope Mother Nature has a few soaking showers on tap this spring so we have a healthier supply of water heading into the hot, humid dog days of summer!