How the exceptionally cold winter affected Denver and these 11 other cities

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
March 26, 2019, 9:16:32 AM EDT

Woman battling snowstorm

A woman walks through heavy snow in Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. The area was under a blizzard warning at the time. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


A winter that included a polar vortex bringing record low temperatures and above-normal snowfall totals for several U.S. cities and towns caused significantly more energy usage in many areas, too.

Estimated fuel usage for heating and likely costs from the beginning of the heating season, which starts in September or October depending on the location, through March 24 compared to the same period to date last heating season is substantially higher in several U.S. cities, according to an AccuWeather analysis.

The colder-than-normal winter especially in the Midwest and Great Lakes, as AccuWeather had predicted, was particularly rough on the Midwest and northern Plains.

Among the cities in which fuel usage for heating increased the most compared to last winter were Denver, Colo., up 13.4 percent, Kansas City, Mo., (12.5 percent), Omaha, Neb., (11.4 percent), Bismarck, N.D., (9.5 percent), Cheyenne, Wyo., (9.3 percent) and Pierre, S.D., (8.6 percent).

Chicago, Ill., (7.8 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., (7.4 percent) and Madison, Wis., (6.4) also saw significant increases from last year.

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Eastern cities also experienced increased fuel usage and likely costs for heating, with New York City up 5.1 percent compared to the same period last year to date, Philadelphia up 4.9 percent and Buffalo up 4.6 percent.

However, Bismarck and Pierre, in particular, experienced heating seasons unlike anything they have had in more than 20 years. The last time either city saw its estimated fuel usage this high was in the 1996-97 winter, according to the AccuWeather analysis.

The heating season can last into May, although monthly heating costs will start declining substantially next month. The price of fuel, including heating oil, natural gas and electricity, vary from year to year and from place to place, so the percentage increase in your fuel bill may vary from these percentages.

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