Breakdown: Why we haven’t received a big snowfall yet

Breakdown: Why we haven’t received a big snowfall yet

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Snow is sometimes hard to come by in the Mid-South, especially this year. The atmosphere has to follow an exact recipe and the right atmospheric is necessary for snow to fall and accumulate. On average Memphis picks up about 3.8 inches of snow annually. Most of the snow we see in Memphis is in January with an average snowfall of 1.9 inches.

Snow is also pretty common in February too although in lower amounts. The average snowfall in February is near 1 inch.

Other months are so low in snowfall so there is no average. Right now we are in the prime of snow season for Memphis and while we have had a few brushes with wintry weather in Memphis, there hasn’t been anything substantial or any school closing snow as I like to call it.

The biggest snowfall for Memphis was in March with a whopping 18 inches of snow March 17, 1892. While we haven’t had enough to build a snowman yet, only two-tenths of an inch so far this year, we still have half of the season to go. Let’s discuss why we have had so little so far.

The weather pattern so far this winter has provided plenty of showers and rather chilly air at times, but the freezing temperatures haven’t haven’t been in place as the moisture at one time. When the cold air and moisture do line up, the moisture is usually exiting as the freezing air arrives giving us little if any flurries or light snow (except in northeast AR). Another issue has been the warm ground temperatures along with saturated ground. Wet and warmer ground is not ideal for snow accumulation.

In order to get significant snow accumulation, we need a low pressure system to track along the gulf with cold air already in place. If the low is too far north we get all rain and if it’s in the middle, we get a mix of rain, sleet or snow.

Bottom line, we still have the rest of this month and all of February, at least to get a more substantial snow according to climatology. Snow in March is not common but possible if the cold air is still around.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.