After bitter cold shocked the Northeast, ice encrusted the South, snow blanketed the Midwest and drought persisted in the West, many of the nation's largest cities experienced weather this winter that was more typical of other locations.
The cold weather this winter had a significant impact on heating costs with the greatest effect on propane prices. In the Midwest, propane prices spiked up more than two dollars per gallon between December and January, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. In addition to the rise of heating costs, schools across the nation searched for alternate solutions for snow days, as school delays and cancellations mounted.
Coming off the winter season, so far in March, the Northeast, Midwest, South Central states and portions of the Southeast have all experienced temperature departures of at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for this time of the year.
As the official winter season is now over, accumulated snowfall in many of the nation's largest cities are well above seasonal averages. For example, Chicago has received 79 inches of snow so far, which is 42 inches more than the seasonal average.
With spring here and cold lingering, many people are wondering why this winter was so harsh.
The answer starts with a large pool of warmer-than-normal water over the Gulf of Alaska, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.
"This water allowed a strong high to build and persist over the West Coast and just offshore," Nicholls said. "This high forced the jet to buckle and push south into the eastern United States and provided almost a direct southward path for arctic air to drain into the central and eastern U.S."
In addition to the jet stream pushing south, a buildup of snow in western Canada early in the winter allowed the bitterly cold air masses to move easily into the U.S.
To find out where your city should have been located in the U.S. based on the average temperature this winter, view the graphic below.
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