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What the unusually long-lasting cold has meant for several US cities

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
April 17, 2019, 3:54:08 AM EDT

ap cold

A commuter braves the wind and snow in frigid weather this winter. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

It’s no surprise that a winter featuring a polar vortex, a late-season "bomb cyclone" and spring featuring a blizzard that was nearly a “bomb cyclone” would cause significantly more energy usage in several Midwestern cities. But just how drastic were the increases and where did they occur?

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 April 15 compared to the same period to date last heating season is higher in several cities in the United States, according to an AccuWeather analysis.

Among the cities in which fuel usage for heating increased the most compared to last winter were Denver, Colo., up 11.3%; Cheyenne, Wyo. (7.6%); Lincoln, Neb. (7.4%); Kansas City, Mo. (6.6%); and Omaha, Neb. (5.9%).

The extended cold also meant many places experienced their lowest average temperatures to date in five years, dating to the 2013-14 season. Kansas City, Mo. (42.7 degrees); Omaha (38.5); Cheyenne (37.3); Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minneapolis (32.2); and Madison, Wisconsin (34.6), all made the list. For Bismarck, N.D., (27.5), the average temperature was the lowest in 10 years and for Denver (40.8), it was the lowest in nine years, according to the analysis.

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With the cold also came elevated seasonal snowfall totals in several cities, including one that received more snow than it had in a century.

Lincoln and Pierre, South Dakota, have received well above normal snowfall to date. Lincoln has been buried under 55.5 inches of snow, more than double its normal snowfall of 25.5 inches -- and the most the city has seen since 1914-15 (59.4 inches).

Pierre has received 67.1 inches of snow -- far above its average of 30.3 -- and the city’s most since 1996-97 (92.5 inches).

The heating season can last into May. 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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