Jan 25, 2023 - News

Philadelphia is approaching a snow drought record

Illustration of snowfall accumulating and being shoveled off the screen.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Philadelphia is experiencing a snow drought.

State of play: The city is nearing the latest date ever to record its first “measurable” snowfall of the season, says Lauren Casey, a Philly-based meteorologist at Climate Central. The previous record is Feb. 3, 1995, she tells Axios.

  • Philly usually has its first measurable snowfall by mid-December, and averages about 23.1 inches each year, so this drought is “highly unusual,” Casey says. Philadelphia's last snowless winter was in 1972-73.

Why it matters: Global warming has affected snowfall throughout the U.S. over the last five decades, according to Climate Central. The group's analysis of data from 1970 to 2019 found most places have seen decreases in fall and spring snowfall.

  • Philly’s average winter temperature has increased five degrees since 1970, but the city has actually seen an uptick in snowfall during the same period, Casey tells Axios.

Between the clouds: Weather patterns have pushed snow-producing low-pressure areas to the west of Philly several times this winter, putting the city on the milder side, shares Axios climate reporter Andrew Freedman. Other storms this winter have tracked more favorably but have lacked enough cold air to support snow.

What we're watching: Our snow fortunes may soon change. A winter advisory is in place for Allentown until 4pm Wednesday, and there’s a chance that such a storm will sprinkle some flakes on Philly.

  • Snow odds are better next month with February typically being the “snowiest” month of the year, with an average of 8.4 inches in Philly, Casey said. The city has also seen occasional flakes as late as April.

The bottom line: Philly appears destined for below-average snow totals this season, but all that could change with one big storm, Casey said, recalling a series of nor'easters that rolled through the area in March 2018.

🏈 At least the warmer weather is expected to hold through Sunday's Eagles-49ers championship game. If you managed to score tickets, expect a high in the 50s.


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