Chicago's Snow Lagging Behind Many Southern Cities

By , Senior Meteorologist
January 5, 2013; 12:22 PM ET
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El Paso, Oklahoma City and Little Rock are just a few of the cities Chicago's historically low snow total is lagging behind.

Chicago has picked up 0.9 of an inch of snow so far this winter, well below the 11.0 inches that typically falls by this time of year and a month beyond the average date of Chicago's first inch of snow (Dec. 2).

Streaks for Chicago's lack of an inch of snow either on the ground, falling on a calendar day and for the season's total continue to increase and challenge all-time records.

The streak for consecutive days without an inch of snow on the ground in Chicago rose to 313 days on Friday, tying the all-time record that spanned from 1939 to early January 1940.

What makes the absence of substantial snow in Chicago even more impressive is the number of cities that lie well to the south whose season snow totals are higher (in some cases, much higher) than Chicago's--a sampling of which are given below with the season's snow total through Jan. 4.

Snow Total
Season Average
El Paso, Texas
Little Rock, Ark.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
St. Louis, Mo.
Springfield, Mo.
Amarillo, Texas
Wichita Falls, Texas

El Paso joined this list on Thursday, when 2.9 inches shattered the day's snowfall record of 1.2 inches from 1949. Prior to Thursday, nearly a year had passed since El Paso last saw snow on Jan. 9, 2012--0.1 of an inch fell that day.

The 10.3 inches of snow recorded at Little Rock fell in a span of less than 24 hours from Christmas Day to the early morning hours of Dec. 26, marking the first time measurable snow fell and whitened the ground in Little Rock on Christmas since 1926.

The 9.0 inches that fell alone on Dec. 25 made for Little Rock's snowiest Christmas and its eighth snowiest day on record (March 6, 1875, and its 12 inches sits at the top of that list).

Memphis, Tenn., has the same snow total so far this winter as Chicago, while the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is not lagging too far behind with 0.5 of an inch.

Snow has not only been bypassing Chicago to the south, but also to the north. The storm that brought Chicago its first measurable snow of the season on Dec. 20 also dumped 13.3 inches on Madison, Wis.

The season's snow total at Madison, located roughly 110 miles northwest of Chicago, currently stands at 23.5 inches.

Snow will return to Chicago later today, coating the ground and potentially finally pushing the season's total to an inch. Dry weather will dominate early next week before a storm moves into the Midwest, likely bringing Chicago more rain than snow.

This MODIS satellite image of northern Illinois, courtesy of NOAA and taken on January 4, 2013, shows how localized Chicago's snow drought is with snow on the ground not far to the south, north and west of Chicago.


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