Lack of snowfall is not normal, but not unprecedented

MASON CITY — Wide areas of central and southern Iowa have had very little snowfall in recent months, not that many of us are complaining. Mason City has seen 1.7 inches of snow this winter season, compared to the 13.5 inches we normally see by this date.

National Weather Service meteorologist Marvin Percha admits it’s odd.  “It’s certainly not normal,” Percha says, “but it’s certainly not unprecedented by any means in terms of snowfall to start the year.”

The first day of winter was December 21st, though meteorological winter begins December 1st. Still, Percha checked the records from October 1st through January 1st and discovered, this is unusual, but not significant over the decades.  “In terms of the winter so far, it’s tied with 1931 for 23rd least amount of snow,” Percha says. “Apparently 1889, going into January 1st of 1890, had 0.3, so that was the lowest.”

It’s out of the norm to have so much grass visible as we start the new year, following a Christmas that was not white, especially when compared to how much snowfall we’re used to having by now. “On the other hand, if you want to see, say, the highest amounts, there’s been as much as 33.9 inches in 1984 by this point,” Percha says, “so it’s certainly well below normal but not any sort of record.”

While there’s no precipitation expected for the region for almost a week, the long-range forecast says rain and snow are likely -next- Monday.