The Northeast is getting a big 20-inch snowfall and -- let's face it -- we're using the opportunity to "tsk tsk" what a big deal they're making out of it. Fact is: We like to think we know snow better than the northeast knows snow, but we don't.
Check the average snow forecast map.
We rarely have snowfalls at least a foot deep in the Twin Cities anymore. In the last decade, the northeast averages more than three such storms a year. And snow there isn't the same as snow here. Our colder-than-anywhere temperatures creates a light, fluffier snow. That makes for more blizzards, but easier shoveling. The East has the ocean, which makes every shovelful of snow a heart attack waiting to happen.
Snow also fell in Washington and the mid-Atlantic states. Big deal? Sure it is, when you don't have the snowfighting equipment the snowbelt has.
The mean snowfall amount per year in Minneapolis is 39.5 inches. That's less than Boston's 40.7. The heaviest snowfall per season in Boston was 86.5 inches in 2005. Minneapolis' heaviest snowfall year was also 2005, according to the National Weather Service. It got 42.8 inches of snow. (Note: I'm not sure how NOAA calculates these numbers because the National Weather Service in Chanhassen has much different seasonal snowfall amounts for Minnesota, but presumably NOAA uses the same method for both locations)
The Weather Service also calculates the "big deal factor" of snowfalls by the number of people in a storm's path. The East Coast wins there easily. There are many more flights a day at East Coast airports, so the effect of snow is more pronounced.
Why is a snowstorm on the East Coast being made into such a big deal? Because it's a big deal. And if it happened here, we'd be making a big deal of it, too.
Our specialty, of course, is cold. The time to appropriately snicker is when the East Coast complains about 20 degree weather in December or January. And you know they will.
There is simply no way that Minneapolis has both an mean of 39.5 inches and an all-time maximum of 42.8. Snow fall totals vary much more than that. Not only that, the second snowiest winter listed is 36.3 inches, or 3 inches below the mean!
I went to the same NOAA website and looked up a few other cities. Here are largest one-year snowfall totals listed for a few other places:
St. Paul: 88.9 (1983)
Maple Plain: 109.8 (1950)
Red Wing: 90.5 (1983)
Stillwater: 75.4 (1951)
C'mon Bob, you can do better :-)
(formerly "The Analyst")
Right. That's what I found, too. I'm not sure how NOAA came up with its measurement but it's listed under the "10 top snowfalls" for each city. It's kind of a cool site -- the address of which I don't have at the moment -- which appears to have data for every observation station in the country.
I'd give anything for the old days of 100" season snowfalls.
I'm thinking the current snow cover is starting to look a little sad and dirty. A nice new storm would be neat.
\\And if it happened here, we'd be making a big deal of it, too.
Actually, if we got 1/4 of what they've got we'd make a big deal out of it. That's what happens when mainstream news becomes fluff.
Looks like that NWS site is a tad confused (notice that they only list two years of data?). This one seems a bit more plausible:
It shows the greatest snowfall for the Twin Cities as being 98.6 inches in 1983-84, closely followed by 95.0 in 1981-82. (That matches my memory: I had a lot more to shovel as a kid!)
I think it's been said that Minnesota's winter climate has more in common with a desert than anything else -- That 42 inches would translate to just a couple of inches of rain. Thankfully we revert to non-desert climates during the warm months.