We’re nearing the end of April but Mother Nature continues to hold strong. Based on the long-range pattern, it appears that the chance for additional snow east of the Rocky Mountains is lessening. Let’s hope because it’s been a snowy, endless winter for many. The past 30 days have featured a widespread one to two feet of snow across the Northern Tier.
This significant snowfall, especially from recent, historical snowstorms, is making for a higher-than-normal snow cover for this time period. Typically, 11.7 percent of the contiguous United States is covered in snow on April 19th, which is based on the 10-year average since 2009. The current snow cover across the Lower 48 this year is at 20.7 percent, which is above average by 9 percent. At least it’s an improvement from the 36.7 percent this time last month. The last time there was this much snow covering the ground this time of the year was back in 2013. Compared to last year, as shown in the animation below, there was only 5.9 percent of snow on the ground due to the fact that April 2017 was the 11th warmest on record nationally, according to NCEI.
The two main reasons why there is still snow on the ground: an active storm track and cold air. We’ve been in a locked-in pattern overall since the start of this year, allowing for many storms to move across the country every week. With cold air in place, that allows for snow to fall, and significant amounts at times. Many climate stations in the eastern two-thirds of the US have recorded a top 5 coldest April-to-date. Widespread locations in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest have even measured their coldest April-to-date, as noted by the boxes with a ‘1’ on the map below. That cold has allowed for the snow to stick around longer than normal given the fact that it’s now spring and the sun is becoming stronger due to the higher sun angle. Let’s hope this snow melts soon.