Winter Weather May Not Be Over Yet

While February and March are at the tail end of the winter season for much of the United States, they can still pack a punch when it comes to winter storms. According to the National Weather Service, weather that officially qualifies as a “winter storm” is a winter weather event that poses more than one significant hazard—this can include conditions such as ice and snow, or snow and sleet, blowing snow and heavy snow, or some combination of these factors. In addition to being a multi-hazard event, the storm must meet or exceed locally or regionally defined 12- or 24-hour warning criteria for at least one of these precipitation elements. Normally, such events post a threat to life and property, including infrastructure, homes, and businesses.

For eight of the past 10 years for which NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center has published storm data, property damages incurred from February and March winter storms have amounted to more than an estimated $1 million dollars each year—sometimes much more. In 2015, these late winter storms left an estimated $85 million dollars of damage in their wake, and 2010 and 2011 saw destruction totaling around $51 and $44 million, respectively. Not every year saw a million-dollar price tag at the end of March—in 2012, the warmest year on record in the contiguous United States, total property damages from winter storms came to about $155,000.

These winter storms can make quite an impression. Around the Mid-Atlantic region, you may recall the intense winter storm nicknamed “Snowmageddon,” which dropped almost 18 inches of snow on Washington DC on the 5th and 6th of February, 2010, making it the 4th highest snowfall instance on record for the capital (tied with the 2016 January blizzard nicknamed "Snowzilla"). Outlying suburbs saw almost three feet of precipitation, shutting down schools, businesses, and the government for days as crews rushed to restore power to the region. The immense weight of this snow damaged schools and businesses, and caused the collapse of churches, firehouses, and an airplane hangar at Dulles International Airport.

With this information about late winter storms in mind, don’t be too hasty to put away your snow supplies. Now is the perfect time to double check your car safety kit, as well as your supply of heating fuel and deicer for your home. Restock your home with any items that you may need to from’s guide to Winter Storms and Extreme Cold, as you may have made use of them already this winter season. After a snowfall, make sure you’re taking a safe approach to snow removal—heart attacks induced by individuals overtaxing themselves shoveling snow are not infrequent after a winter storm, so follow these guidelines from University of Wisconsin Health to remove snow safely.