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 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.

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
Marlboro MA 10.7 12 11.2 21.5
Pepperell MA 0.2 0 19.4 79 12.9 69
Poland Spring ME 2.8 6 31.9 155 8.4 240
Bow NH 29 172 12.1 262
Bristol NH 1.9 1.9 26.8 186.2 8 344
Penacook NH 0.2 0 24.5 152 9.7 183
Mt. Mansfield VT 11.5 89 18.1 152 53.2 1091 25.9 1661

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 25.3 19 0.8
Marlboro MA 21.9 33.5 1.5
Pepperell MA 32.5 148 4.6
Poland Spring ME 43.1 401 9.3
Bow NH 41.1 434 10.6
Bristol NH 36.7 532.1 14.5
Penacook NH 34.4 335 9.7
Mt. Mansfield VT 108.7 2993 27.5

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 February 3
Ric Werme

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