(WGHP) – February marks the last month of meteorological winter, and snow lovers across the Piedmont Triad are starting to get discouraged.
On average, our first accumulating snowfall happens in early January. In recent years, the last time we waited this long was in 2020 when the snow didn’t arrive until late February.
Every winter, since records began, has recorded at least a trace of snow. The last winter without accumulating snow was back in 1991-1992.
Historical data shows that half of our snowfall typically happens after January ends. While January is normally our snowiest month, the second and third snowiest are February and March.
Latest First Measurable Snowfall
The top 10 years with the latest first snowfall in the Piedmont Triad range from Feb. 9 to March 6.
Since 1929, the latest first measurable snowfall on record, not including trace amounts, occurred on March 6, 1932.
In the last 15 years, we have had three late-season first snowfalls. Most recently, Feb. 20 was our first measurable snowfall in winter 2019-2020. In winter 2014-2015, our first measurable snowfall occurred on Feb. 16 and in 2011-2012, the first snowfall occurred on Feb. 19.
If our snowless streak continues through Feb. 9, this winter will be in the top 10 latest first snows on record in the Triad.
With spring-like weather in place this week, we’ll likely break into at least the top 10.
Why have we still not seen measurable snow this year?
So far, our best chance for snow occurred in December when a favorable winter pattern developed around Christmas.
Temperatures were incredibly cold, dropping into the single digits and many locations observed around 53 hours below freezing. We didn’t get any snow then because the moisture was not able to sync up with the cold air.
Since then, the jet stream, which consists of strong upper-level winds, has not been in our favor. We’ve seen a consistent pattern of the jet stream dipping on the west coast and ridging over the east coast.
When a dip in the jet stream occurs, it favors stormy weather and colder weather, which has been observed in the western United States. Ridging favors warmer weather, which is what we’ve seen here in the Carolinas.
Is there still hope for snow-lovers?
Despite how warm our temperatures have been this week, the pattern is looking more favorable for the chance of winter weather this weekend.
A strong weather system looks likely Saturday and Sunday which will allow rain chances to return by Saturday afternoon and evening.
Cold air will move in changing the rain to snow across the North Carolina mountains. In the Piedmont, there’s a chance to see a rain/snow mix or even some wet snowflakes on Sunday as colder air tries to work its way in.
There’s a few things that could limit what we see winter-wise this weekend. Cold air looks to be limited with the system, which is needed for us to see snow. As of now, morning temperatures on Sunday will be near 32 degrees with afternoon temperatures reaching the low 40s.
Also, with how warm temperatures have been this week that means the ground is warm. The warm ground temperatures would limit what would be able to stick, if anything.
What we do know is this weekend looks like it’ll be more wet than dry. It’s just a matter of if the air is able to get cold enough and if the cold air arrives with the moisture.
It’s still too early to tell, but it’s something the FOX8 weather team is watching closely.
If we were to see snow this weekend, it would put us in 10th place for the latest first measurable snowfall on record in the Triad.