What if all this rain was snow?

Weather Blog

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It should not come to anyone’s surprise that Southern New England is in the middle of a snow drought. Sorry snow lovers!

T.F. Green International Airport has only recorded 11.6 inches of snow since Dec. 1. Compared to the climatological average (which is taken over a 30-year time frame), the region is coming-up 8 inches short as of the first week of February.

The ingredients for snow are simple: precipitation and cold temperatures. Between Dec. 1 and the first week of February, the region has seen plenty of water falling from the sky.

Overall, precipitation between Dec. 1st and Feb. 6 has accumulated to 9.93 inches (including liquid from snow), which is around 13% above normal.

The next important piece is the cold weather. Southern New England has seen some cold weather, but, not a whole lot of it.

Let’s take a look at the numbers between December, January and the start of February.

Though the past few months were mild, December was nearly near average in terms of temperatures.

That month, the region recorded an average high of 42.2° and an average low of 27°, with a monthly average of 34.7°. During December, the region picked up much of this season’s snowfall, 8.11 inches.

January and February have both been relatively mild. In fact, the month of January recorded an all-time record high (for the month) of 70° on Jan. 12, making it feel more like spring that afternoon.

During this month, the region averaged a high of 44.2° and a low of 27.7°, with a monthly average of 36.0° – which is 6° above average.

The total amount of snow for the month comes out to 3.60 inches and a total of 1.26 inches of precipitable water (which is lower than normal). The average for the month is 3.86 inches of precipitable water.

Moving into February, the first week the temperatures (both high and low) has averaged 37.8°, which is 7.6° above normal.

We can all thank the above-average temperatures for the lack of snow across southern New England.

What if it had been cold enough to support all snow instead of rain?

Since December was a rather “normal” month, we are going to focus on January and the first week of February.

What we know, is a total of 1.26 inches of liquid fell during January and 0.56 inches during the first six days of February, totaling 1.82 inches of precipitable water.

But how much snow would that be?

The old wives’ tale goes one inch of rain equals one foot of snow. It’s an “OK” estimate for sure, and that means the snow-to-liquid ratio is 12:1.

Here in Southern New England, we normally see 10:1.

Let’s do some math!

10 [inches of snow] ÷ 1 [inch of water] = x [inches of snow] ÷ 1.82 [inch of water]
10/1 = x/1.82
10 = x/1.82
x = 18.2 [inches of snow]

Yup, that is a foot-and-a-half of snow we could have seen if it were cold enough the last six weeks.

Lastly, let’s take a look at our current storm: Feb. 6-7. As of the time this was written, a total of 0.77 inches of rain fell at T.F. Green in Warwick.

Let’s pretend it was falling as snow – we would be digging out from (roughly) 7.7 inches of snow (using the 10:1 snow to liquid ratio).

Remember, we still have six more weeks of winter!

─ Meteorologist Torry Gaucher

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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