Snow Depth Days
of the Northeast: 2016-2017

The season in review

At the start of the snow season, the big news since last summer was the protracted drought in New England and the above average temperatures. However, while there was still a substantial rain deficit by the end of the year, ground moisture was in pretty good shape given that leafless trees don't suck up everything they can.

As far as the snow season goes, we've got off to an average start through December. Compared to last year, we're ahead of last December's data and ahead of last season's totals on some metrics. That says a lot more about how exceptional last season was with its amazingly low snowfall.

January was a bit of an upside down month. It was both warmer than average, suggesting a northerly storm track, but the southern stations received more snow, suggesting a southerly storm track. The most notable storm in Penacook was 1.1 inch of sleet, freezing rain, and more sleet. Then some more rain and freezing weather to turn it into armor plating. It's quite rare to get that much sleet from one storm here.

The main feature in February was not snow, but warmth, with five days in the 50s and three in the 60s, all in the second half of the month. My maximum snow cover for the season reached 19" on the 13th, and was down to a trace at the end of the month. Mt Mansfield reached 102" on the 17th, and lost 40" from the by the end of the month.

March's script appears to have been switched with February. No days in the 60s, local maxima kept getting colder, more lows below 10F, and the average temperature was colder than February and nearly as cold as January. A snow storm that straddled March and April brought me 12.3" and several comments on it being the 20th anniversary of the April Fool's day blizzard in Massachusetts.

Snow doesn't last long in April, and that storm melted by the 5th bringing what should be the end of our snow season. On the other hand, cool and wet weather in the last two weeks is expected to continue into May. May 9th is the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest May snow storms in southern New England, but we aren't expecting a repeat of that.

Daily/Monthly Data

The following table summarizes the snow fall and depth days from sites that are posting that data on local weather observations mail lists and a couple others. If people also prepare Web pages for daily information for their site, I'll include links to them. Cells under the "snow" column are the snowfall for the site in that month, under "SDD" are the depth days for the month.

Location October November December January February March April May
Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD
Fairhaven MA 2.6 2 22.7 17 12.4 46 8.7 16
Marlboro MA 10.7 12 11.2 21.5 23 148.5 14.5 94
Pepperell MA 0.2 0 19.4 79 12.9 69 33.9 269 22 106 4.6 15
Poland Spring ME 2.8 6 31.9 155 8.4 240 45.4 483
Bow NH 29 172 12.1 262 30.7 462 23.1 321
Bristol NH 1.9 1.9 26.8 186.2 8 344 28.2 488.5 22.9 118.5 12 12.7
Penacook NH 0.2 0 24.5 152 9.7 183 20.3 265 20.3 86.5 6.5 27
Mt. Mansfield VT 11.5 89 18.1 152 53.2 1091 25.9 1661 43.3 2270 50.2 2577 10.3 2209

2016-2017 season to end of last month

The persistence quotient is lower than the ultimate value if there is still snow on the ground at the site. This data will be updated each month.

Location Snowfall Depth Days Persistence
Quotient
Fairhaven MA 46.4 81 1.7
Marlboro MA 59.4 276 4.6
Pepperell MA 93 538 5.8
Poland Spring ME 88.5 884 10.0
Bow NH 94.9 1217 12.8
Bristol NH 99.8 1151.8 11.5
Penacook NH 81.5 713.5 8.8
Mt. Mansfield VT 212.5 10049 47.3

Contributors

Name Location
Dennis Bollea Fairhaven MA
Wayne Cotterly Poland Spring ME
Steve Gunn Bristol NH
Paul Hansen Marlboro MA
Jim Hilt Bow NH
Paul Venditti Pepperell MA
Ric Werme Penacook NH

Credits

Jim Corbin, a meteorologist from Rhode Island, proposed the concept of both snow depth days and the persistence quotient, but he didn't have good names for them.  After a bouncing around various ideas, I came up with Depth Days.  It seems to fit into colloquial speech well, e.g. "When mired in the Depth Days of February, she thought fondly of the Dog Days of August." Of course, none of us snow lovers would ever think that. I picked Persistence Quotient while putting this page together, we'll see how it wears with time.

Musings

I think depth days is a great statistic, and I'm surprised that it is catching on slowly outside of the NE Weather Spotters mail list. I never expected that the NWS would embrace it quickly, but I had hoped that TV meteorologists would start using it, in monthly summaries, if nothing else. It would be nice if ski areas would use it, but they may not wish to if they are not likely to be #1 consistantly. (And if only one area reports depth days, it would not be a good comparative statistic.) The University of Vermont has graphs of snow depths at Stowe through many seasons.

Last update: 2017 May 6
Ric Werme

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