Lots of Swings in February and March 2022

April 6, 2022 // Article by: Cody Hewitt

As we head into the heart of spring, it’s worth revisiting the tail end of winter and how the season fared overall. January was quite cold which helped reel in temperatures from runaway winter warmth. Indeed, while not being abnormally above average, much of the Northeast saw a swingy February, with the mild spells outnumbering the cooler ones. As a result, most places landed 1-2 degrees above normal followed by a select few such as Philadelphia nearly 4 degrees above. So in the end, many ended up with a winter that leaned warm, but only as the 26th warmest in the record compared to recent ones.

As for sensible weather, February remained active although accumulations concentrated mainly across New England, while the Mid-Atlantic’s bout of snow sharply dropped off. Boston was the one city that averaged just above normal, 15.3” versus their usual 14.4” for February. Much of that came with a storm on the 25th that left over half a foot for a good portion of the state, as well as dreaded sleet and ice across southern New England. Looking back earlier in the month, the other notable system was an icy disturbance between the 3rd-5th. Upwards of 0.50” accreted in the Hudson Valley, leaving many stranded and without power. The impacts of 0.10” of ice or more were also felt into parts of NJ and CT. In sharp contrast, Washington, D.C. recorded a mere trace of snow against its 5” norm for the month of February. A seemingly new tradition of unusual February warmth returned in 2022, particularly on the 17th and 23rd; New York City broke a record at 68 degrees on the 17th, while Atlantic City, NJ touched 72 degrees for the latter!

March was not quite the lion it could have been, but the bulk of remaining seasonal accumulation came during the first half. Two events contributed to this: a coastal storm on the 9th that brought a steady snow to the region, and the second being a cold front that flipped rain to snow on the 12th-13th. The first system dropped several inches of snow mainly in New England, including Hartford, CT which snagged 4 inches worth. The latter caused accumulations all the way down to Maryland and Virginia, particularly along and northwest of the I-95 corridor where 1” or more fell, while 3-6” fell west toward Hagerstown & Frederick, MD. Around these two wintry events were anomalously warm days yet again. The stretch between the 6th-7th and again on the 17th-18th saw record highs; Allentown, PA broke the 70 mark on both the 6th and 7th, while Wilmington, DE did the same for the 6th, 7th, and 19th! In fact, Wilmington nearly touched 80 degrees on the 7th.

Aside from the records, the middle and end of March trended toward more typical spring weather. Occasional rain events such as on the 24th left 0.50-1.00” across most places while temperatures trended back into the 50s and 60s. No meaningful snow fell during this time though, however,  snow squalls on the 28th were quite intense. Even though there was less than an inch in most cases, the brief, heavy snow was enough to cover pavements at times, reduce visibilities, and create serious multi-car accidents on highways (esp in parts of northeast PA). This was thanks to a robust cold front ushering in truly frigid air. It felt like winter briefly returned as nearly the whole region stayed near or below freezing during the day. Albany, NY only touched 32 degrees, a record minimum for a high temperature; same for Manchester, NH at just 31 degrees.

Despite some active weather in March, it didn’t quite add up to much in terms of rain and snow. Precipitation ran half to three-quarters of normal for the month. Snow lacked significantly despite it being early meteorological spring. For example, Boston typically averages nearly 9” but only recorded 2.1”. Same for even down south where even Baltimore, MD can see nearly 3” versus their actual 0.4” in March 2022. The month also ran 3 to 4 degrees above normal for many of the major cities, even with the cold shots during the month.