‘Leap Day’ snow likely to dampen dry, mild month

One more day without snow and this February would have set the record for the least amount of snow i

One more day without snow and this February would have set the record for the least amount of snow in February in the Capital Region.

A near miss, probably.

A storm featuring snow, sleet and ice is expected to start after noon today — “Leap Day” as it is Feb. 29 — and continue through Thursday afternoon, bringing 6 to 8 inches to the Schenectady-Clifton Park area and 8 to 10 inches to Saratoga Springs and points north and east. Daytime temperatures in the mid-30s and lows at night in the upper 20s are predicted for both days.

As of Tuesday, less than an inch of snow (0.6 inches) had fallen in Albany, where official measurements are taken. The record for the least snowy February was 1.3 inches, set 100 years ago in 1912.

“If it snows 3 inches or more today, we won’t be in the top 10,” said meteorologist Evan Heller of the National Weather Service office in Albany.

The service posted the watch for the Capital Region and Mohawk and Schoharie valleys from this afternoon through Thursday afternoon.

The month of February has been marked by above-normal temperatures and below-normal amounts of snow and precipitation in general, said Jack Boston, a meteorologist for AccuWeather in State College, Pa. “Only two days out of the entire month were below normal,” Boston said. The average Capital Region temperature in February was 32.2 degrees, as compared to the normal average of 26 degrees.

Precipitation, rain and melted snow, was measured at 0.57 of an inch as of Tuesday, while the normal precipitation for February is 2.29 inches. “It was a warm, dry month,” Boston said.

January was also marked by far less snow than normal and much warmer temperatures, he said.

Adding snowfall from December through Feb. 28, the Capital Region received only 8.8 inches, when the normal is 44.1 inches. The temperatures for the three months were also 5.9 degrees above normal.

The reason: The weather was “progressive,” with the systems coming off the Pacific Ocean and moving right across the country, Boston said. “Everything was moving all winter,” he said. The North Atlantic Oscillation was also positive, keeping arctic temperatures away.

“Most of the United States was above normal this winter,” he said.

In March, “We think that the pattern is going to remain pretty much the same,” Boston said. But cooler, slightly below-normal temperatures are expected during the second half of March.

At the Saratoga Spa State Park, there was some outdoor ice skating at the rink near the Victoria swimming pool in January and part of February but no cross country skiing to speak of. Park Manager Michael Greenslade said the park wasn’t able to use its new cross country ski trail groomer at all so far this winter because there was never the required six inches of snow on the ground.

Greenslade said that for most of the winter, people were walking, biking and running in the park, typical of spring usage.

The warmer temperatures and lack of snow helped the park budget, though. “It saved us money in overtime for plowing. Energy costs are down somewhat,” Greenslade said.

Saratoga Springs Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said he wasn’t looking forward to the wet snow.

“One of the problems you get with a late snowstorm is that the snow is heavy and hard to push,” Scirocco said. This can lead to equipment problems for his department’s older trucks and plows.

“I’m really happy for the way things have gone this winter,” Scirocco said. “It’s the best winter we have had in a long, long time.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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