SALEM — February was a snowy month here in Salem. Snow occurred on 11 days. Although snow can result in many inconveniences, it can also be beautiful. We were treated to some periods that produced spectacular fluffy snowflakes, cascading gently to the surface and transforming the trees and landscape into a winter wonderland.
Looking back on our records since 1977, this was our fourth-snowiest February. The jackpot was in 1994 when we received an impressive 44 inches of snow. The biggest storm this year was on the 5th, when we received a foot of snow. Total snowfall for the month was 27.7 inches.
Temperatures were considerably colder than normal for the month, to the dismay of homeowners facing big heating bills. The average was only 26 degrees. The high for the month was only 53, and the low was a frigid 1 degree above zero. We did have a very short “February thaw” and one brief thunderstorm.
Now March, the first month of spring, has arrived with the possibility of more winter events before the warmer weather comes. Spring officially arrives on the 20th, the Spring Equinox, and now our daylight hours will become longer than those of the nighttime.
March high temperatures usually reach to the 40s and drop to the upper 20s by sunrise at the beginning of the month. Then, toward month’s end, the high readings are found in the lower 50s while the nocturnal lows drop to the mid-30s.
Checking back on our records for the past 36 years, we experienced our highest March temperature of a mid-summer-like 92 degrees in 1998.
Our previous lowest reading was a bone-chilling 1 degree above zero in 1978.
Most New Englanders think of March as the last month with significant snowfall. Our average for the month is about 8 inches. However, March 1993 was truly significant with many snowstorms, including a blizzard with near-hurricane-force winds gusting up to 71 mph. That year, we ended up with an impressive total of 51.5 inches, the most snow for any March in our locale.
So March can still give us significant wintry weather. In contrast, there was no snow here at Salem during March 1979, 1983 and 1992.
Arthur Francis is a Salem meteorologist.
SNOWFALL THIS SEASON
November: 0.01 inch
December: 14.7 inches
January: 24.1 inches
February: 27.7 inches
Total: 66.6 inches
Note: The most snow that we have had in any month since 1977 was 60 inches in January 2005.