There's no denying that winter seemed to drag on endlessly this year, with frigid cold snaps and a multitude of snow storms blanketing the area through late March. Delaware experienced 17 snow events this winter with a total of 40.5 inches of snow falling on Dover, according to Kevin Brinson, associate state climatologist and director of the University of Delaware's Delaware Environmental Observing System.
There’s no denying that winter seemed to drag on endlessly this year, with frigid cold snaps and a multitude of snow storms blanketing the area through late March. Delaware experienced 17 snow events this winter with a total of 40.5 inches of snow falling on Dover, according to Kevin Brinson, associate state climatologist and director of the University of Delaware’s Delaware Environmental Observing System.
“The normal seasonal snowfall for Dover is 15.7 inches,” Brinson said. “So, this year’s snowfall total has far exceeded the normal seasonal snowfall. In Dover's 120-year climate record, this year will probably go down as one of the 10 snowiest.”
Those measurements come from the automated snow sensor the DEOS has in Dover, Brinson said.
In three of the state’s 17 snow events, Dover wasn’t affected by any snow and in another the city received only a trace.
While this winter may have been grueling, it’s not the snowiest the area has ever seen. Winter 2010 marked the city’s snowiest season, with Dover buried under a total of 65.6 inches of snow throughout that season, according to Brinson.
This pattern of nasty winter weather can be explained by polar jets, said Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“Starting around mid-December, we got into a pattern where the polar jet was frequently dipping over the northeastern U.S.,” Johnson said. “The way this pattern set up, we had more low pressure systems move over our region; this set the stage for more chances for precipitation.”
The dipping of those polar jets also led to cold arctic air from Canada moving into the area, she explained. This is why the majority of the precipitation that fell this winter was snow rather than rain.
It is uncommon to have both extreme cold and large amounts of snow, according to Brinson.
“The other aspect of the snow storms this year has been the amount of cold air we've seen during those events,” he said. “On several occasions, we've seen temperatures well in the teens with moderate to heavy snow. Usually when it's that cold, the atmosphere is too dry to produce much snow, let alone heavy snow.”
Here is a recap of the storms that Dover endured this winter:
The season’s first snow storm occurs. Dover received just under an inch of snow, according to DEOS snow totals. Prior to the storm, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory and was forecasting snow accumulation between 1 and 3 inches of snow. Area schools opened with a delay.
Winter Storm Hercules buried Dover under 6.2 inches of snow overnight, according to DEOS snow totals. In advance of the storm, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning. The storm was accompanied by temperatures in the teens with a sub-zero wind chill and blowing snow caused by blustery winds. Area schools were closed the following day.
Dover was blanketed by 5.6 inches of snow. Area schools closed early and remained closed the following day. That storm marked the first time of several that Gov. Jack Markell issued a State of Emergency. The State of Emergency and Level 1 driving restriction went into effect at 2 p.m., with both lifted at 10 a.m. the following day.
Just over an inch of snow fell on Dover, according to the DEOS snow sensors.
A total of 4.6 inches of snow fell on Dover, according to snow sensors, out pacing the 2 to 4 inches that the National Weather Service had predicted. Area schools were closed the following day.
The storm to hit Dover with the heaviest snow fall occurred on Feb. 13, accumulating 7.4 inches. Gov. Jack Markell issued a limited State of Emergency and a Level 1 driving restriction at 5:30 a.m. The State of Emergency for Kent County was lifted later that same morning. All area schools were closed in the wake of the storm. Most area schools opened with delays the next day, while Lake Forest schools remained closed until Feb. 15.
Dover received 1.6 inches of snow, according to the DEOS snow sensors. Area schools operated on a delay.
Just under an inch of snow blanketed Dover between Feb. 25 and Feb. 26.
Winter Storm Titan deposited 3.8 inches of snow on Dover, prompting Gov. Jack Markell to issue both a State of Emergency and a Level 1 driving restriction for the state, effective at midnight. Area schools were closed March 3-4 and re-opened March 5 with a two-hour delay.
Winter Storm Wiley swept over Dover on St. Patrick’s Day, leaving 5.7 inches of snow in its wake. No driving restrictions were issued, but state offices and all schools in the state were closed.
A total of 2.2 inches of snow accumulated in Dover. Area schools operated with a delay the following day.