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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While waves of arctic air will continue to pour across the Great Lakes and New England this weekend, milder air will surge farther northward early next week.
The cold reprieve unfolding across the United States will not last long with waves of chilly air set to invade many parts of the country in the days leading up to Christmas.
Urduja, known globally as Kai-tak, will continue to unleash life-threatening flooding rain and mudslides as it slowly crosses the Philippines into Monday.
Winds will again kick up and become strong, raising the risk of rapidly spreading wildfires in Northern and Southern California this weekend as firefighters continue to battle the Thomas Fire, which is now the third largest in the state's history.
After an unseasonably quiet start to December in the northwestern United States, a significant storm will set its sights on the region spanning Tuesday to Wednesday.
Southern Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula are being put on alert for potential impacts from Tropical Storm Kai-tak later next week after it finishes lashing the Philippines.
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