Unless you live on a mountain, the Twin Cities probably got more snow in February than your town
Yes, Minnesotans, February was as bad as you thought.
After a slow start, winter decided make up for lost time — dumping 39 inches of snow in 28 days. It snowed more days than it didn't, surpassing a typical February by more than two feet.
Essentially, the Twin Cities were transformed into mountain towns without the mountains.
Seriously - our snowfall totals were closer to Jackson, Wyo., (51 inches and counting) than our fellow Midwesterners in Chicago (9 inches), Milwaukee (18 inches) and Detroit (7 inches).
In fact, with the exception of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Twin Cities suffered more snow this February than nearly everywhere outside the Mountain West, according to snow accumualation estimates by the National Weather Service.
This, to put it lightly, is unusual.
Despite our reputation for relentless winters, the Twin Cities averages about 9 inches of snow in February, which is comparable to areas of New England, the upper Midwest, and swaths of the northern plains.
The maps below compare how our snow accumulation this February compares to those and other regions. Red areas had at least as much snow as the Twin Cities. Blue areas had less.
If misery loves company, they also show how lonely our last month truly was.
New York and New England
New England is no stranger to snowy winters. Apart from being home to several major mountain ranges, the region is often battered by ferocious nor'easters that churn up the coast and dump snow by the foot in areas like Boston and New York.
A particularly merciless series of storms in 2015 dropped nearly five feet on Boston in Feburary alone, on the way to a record-setting season of 108 inches — a total the Twin Cities has never matched.
But this year, Boston got 9 inches. Portland, Maine, managed nearly 11. And up north, Burlington, Vt., tallied just 16.
Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee
In a normal winter, we can usually count on our compatriots in Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit to share our pain.
Their typical February looks a lot like ours, with snowfall totals around a foot, give or take, made worse at times by frigid winds ripping off the Great Lakes.
This year was no different. All three cities saw snowfall roughly in line with their historical averages — though other areas of Michigan and Wisconsin had it even worse than we did:
Topping 41 inches, Eau Claire, Wisc., just recorded the snowiest month in its history. And the Upper Peninsula? Well, our hats off to you.
The North Shore
Surely the rugged North Shore must have had more snow last month than the Twin Cities.
What with the storms roiling over Lake Superior, the cold and wild Boundary Waters, and the Sawtooth Mountains, home to just about the only real elevation Minnesota has to offer, our northern brethren can usually be counted on to hold the "more snow" trump card.
And in a normal February, that would be true. But this was not a normal February.
A few spots near Tofte and the Canadian border matched us flake-for-flake. And Duluth got close. But even though much of the Arrowhead got more snow than usual earlier this winter, its Feburary count was still found wanting by Twin Cities standards.
The Mountain West
It could always be worse.
Some areas of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in California, got socked with more than 350 inches of snow in February.
That's good news for Los Angeles, which counts on snowmelt from the Sierra to supply much of its water, but it has also shut down highways, triggered enormous avalanches, and created memeworthy snowdrifts the size of small buildings.
Snowfall records fell all over the west this February, from Seattle to Spokane, Wash., to Missoula, Mont. Even Los Angeles got a taste.
But the fact remains: Unless you live on a mountain, you probably saw less snow than the Twin Cities last month.