'Normal' snow and ice amounts for Mid-Missouri

POSTED: 02:02 PM CST Nov 27, 2013    UPDATED: 04:00 PM CST Nov 27, 2013 
(img1)Normal Missouri winters video

Winters in Mid-Missouri are rarely the same from year to year.

To give an idea of where we stand compared to previous years, we often talk about what is "normal," which is actually the most recent 30 years of data averaged out.

Although we have cold winters here in Missouri, we often have periods of mild, above-freezing temperatures each winter and it is unusual to have prolonged periods of very cold temperatures.

January is normally the coldest month of the winter with an average low of 21 and high of only 39 degrees, slightly colder than December. February usually brings slightly warmer weather with average daytime highs in the lower 40s.

Snow has been known to fall as early as October and as late as May, however, most of it falls from December through February.

We get an average of one inch in November and close to five inches in December, January and February, before dropping off to less than two inches in March.

The average snow for an entire winter season comes in at 18 inches.

But from our actual snowfall amounts in the past 10 years, we are rarely near average with snowfall amounts highly variable from year to year. Just in the past
three years we went from 53 inches in 2010-2011, down to seven inches in 2011-2012 and back up to 35 inches last year.

While it's common to have a few snowfalls each winter, blizzards are much more rare. In order for a winter storm to be classified as a blizzard, it must meet certain criteria: At least three hours of winds 35 mph or higher and visibilities less than a quarter of a mile.

According to the average yearly frequency of blizzards, the chance of having a blizzard is low in Missouri, with less than a 15 percent chance each winter.

Sometimes conditions are on the border between rain and snow and we end up with rain freezing on contact with cold surfaces. Freezing rain occurs more common than blizzards with an average of 3-4 days per year in Mid-Missouri.