Where’s the snow? Feet of snow is missing in major Northeast cities and recent storms are no help

People walk through Brooklyn's Prospect Park on a snowy morning over on February 28, 2023 in New York City.

People walk through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on a snowy morning over on February 28, 2023, in New York City.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesCNN — 

storm headed for the Northeast is expected to be another rainy, blustery mess – leaving parts of the snow-starved region pining for any significant snow.

Several major Northeast cities are enduring record-long waits for significant snowfall that has left them missing feet of snow over the last two winters.

Six cities from Richmond, Virginia, to New York City have waited nearly 700 days to see an inch of snow fall in a day. Historically snowier cities, like Boston, have waited nearly as long to see 3 inches.

Recent storms have been no help. This weekend’s storm will be the second consecutive one to track through these cities only to leave snow lovers there out to dry.

Even if in the long run record-long snowless streaks are emblematic of what winter is more likely to look like in a warming world, this year’s El Niño winter could at least be the temporary antidote for the snow drought currently plaguing the Northeast megalopolis.

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A snow drought nearly two years in the making

Warmer temperatures and imperfect storm tracks are behind the lack of snow in the Northeast.

Storms can produce snow, but their exact track is crucial – a shift east or west could be the difference between snow or rain. Snow also can’t reach the ground unless there is plenty of cold air, even with an ideal storm track.

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Many storms last winter tracked north and west of the New York City metro, leaving the area stuck on storms’ warmer side where precipitation fell as rain instead, James Tomasia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New York City told CNN.

Despite some recent flurries, Saturday marks the 671st consecutive day without an inch of snow in New York City, its longest such wait on record.

Truly cold and prolonged air was also hard to come by last winter for much of the season across the Northeast. It was one of the warmest winters on record in both Philadelphia and in New York City. New York also had its warmest January on record.

It’s also been simply too warm for significant snow closer to the Northeast coast so far in December, and only the interior and high elevations in the region have seen decent snow as a result.


New York’s unprecedented streak was in jeopardy twice earlier this year. For two consecutive days in late February, 0.9 inches of snow fell in Central Park. But those two days were paltry and made up the majority of the snow in what was New York’s least-snowy winter on record.

The lack of snow is adding up. New York City records almost 30 inches of snow in a typical winter, but has now missed out on around three feet of its normal snowfall the past two winters – despite recording nearly 18 inches in the winter of 2021-2022.

Like New York, it’s been a record long wait for an inch of snow in Philadelphia, Baltimore and the Washington, DC, area at Washington’s Dulles International Airport. Washington’s Regan National Airport is enduring its fourth-longest stretch of days without an inch of snow.

Some snow did accumulate in the Washington, DC, area on Monday, but totals amounted to under an inch at both airports.

STONY BROOK, NY - JANUARY 29: People shovel snow during a major snowstorm on January 29, 2022 in Stony Brook, New York. A powerful nor'easter brought blinding blizzard conditions with high winds causing widespread power outages to much of the Mid-Atlantic and New England coast.  (Photo by Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images)

People shovel snow during one of New York’s last major snowstorms on January 29, 2022.Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images

All of these cities are missing multiple feet of their typical snowfall since the winter of 2021-2022.

Even cities that are less snowy on average are suffering from a lack of snow. Richmond, Virginia, became a prime example after only receiving a mere trace last winter compared to its typical nearly nine inches.

But like all streaks, these are made to be broken.

The snow drought is “unlikely to continue through the whole season” since, historically, recording this little snow is “rare,” Alex Staarmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, told CNN.

El Niño could be the key ingredient to break the snow drought

Snowfall amounts across portions of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic may get a boost from El Niño this winter.

The mid-Atlantic, especially, is one part of the country that could hit the snowfall jackpot this winter because of El Niño. El Niño – a natural ocean and weather pattern in the tropical Pacific – affects the position of the jet stream and the overall track of storms across the US.

A man walks by as another clears snow from a sidewalk Saturday in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.

New maps reveal who could see more snow this winter during a strong El Niño

“El Niño generally favors a snowier https://outbackball.com pattern for the area, and thus, it’s more probable to see decent snow,” Staarmann explained.

Storms that affect the mid-Atlantic’s snow chances during an El Niño winter typically take a track along the spine of the Appalachians or push off the coast and become nor’easters.

These nor’easters can get “juiced up” by abundant tropical moisture during El Niño and deliver “two to three big snowstorms” on average, Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, previously told CNN.

This could bring above-average snowfall to places like Washington, D.C., Baltimore and even Philadelphia, where less than an inch fell last winter.

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