Monday, April 6, 2015

Let it Melt, Let it Melt, Let it Melt (and We Did)

Newton Highlands 1978

Now that spring is here, we might have a better perspective about this past winter and all the snow it brought. We got a lot of snow! In fact in seven days between January 27th and February 2nd Boston got a record breaking amount of snow of 40.5 inches which broke the record from January 1996 of 31.2 inches.  Other records set in Boston this year include:
  • the snowiest month on record with 64.6 inches as of February 25th, 2015,
  • record snowfall in 30 days of 94.4 inches from January 24 - February 22, 2015 and 
  • fastest amount of time for six-foot snow to fall; 72.5 inches in 18 days from January 24-February 10, 2015. 
One of New England’s most memorable blizzards is the Blizzard of 1978 where Boston got 27.1 inches between February 6th and 7th.  This blizzard was made worse by the high tides and flooding along the coast. This blizzard is in 2nd place of the top heaviest Boston snowstorms, the first being February 17-18, 2003 with 27.6 inches.

According to, on March 5, 2015 Boston reached 105.7 inches of accumulated snow, and on March 15, 2015 at 7 pm Boston broke the record with 108.6 inches of snow for the season, when it received 2.9 inches of snow that day. Since that time we have gotten a few more inches.  Snowfall for Boston is officially measured in East Boston at Logan Airport.  The average snowfall in a snow season for Boston is usually 43.5 inches.  The top five snow amounts during a season are:
  1. 1995-1996   107.6
  2. 2014-2015   110.6
  3. 1993-1994     96.3
  4. 1947-1948     89.2 
  5. 2004-2005     86.6
Official records go back to 1891.  However there are other notable snowstorms before 1891. According to the New England Historical Society one such storm was called the Great Snow of 1717, which produced 5 feet of snow in New England and the New York colonies, between the dates of February 27 through March 7, 1717.  There was so much snow that the Puritans could not hold church services for two successive weeks as reported by Cotton Mather. Another storm was called the Great Blizzard of 1888 struck on March 11, 1888 in the northeast killing more than 400 people and dumping as much as 50 inches of snow in Massachusetts. This storm is also referred to as the Great White Hurricane.

Henry David Thoreau writes about the coldest winter in New England from December 1856-January 1857.  On January 17th, it was 20 degrees below zero in Salem.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) provides valuable information on weather related topics including: hypothermia, how to clear a roof of snow and Ice Safety.

Image from MEMA's website.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian