The amount of snow that has fallen in Kansas City this winter season has been meager — a snow drought some might say.
At 4.5 inches so far, Kansas City is nowhere near its average yearly snowfall of 18.8 inches. There will need to be some significant storms in the coming weeks to reach that total.
“We certainly have had below normal snowfall for much of the area,” said Scott Blair, a meteorologist the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.
The amount of snow has been so paltry that if Kansas City doesn’t receive any more snow, this winter could tie 1922-23 as the second least snowiest season on record. The winter with the least snow was in 2011-12, when only 3.9 inches of snow fell.
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But don’t go packing away those snow boots and shovels quite yet.
“We are not guaranteed out of the woods by any means,” Blair said. “We had snow a couple years ago as late as early May. It can certainly happen during this late winter and early spring months.”
The average last snowfall is March 23 in Kansas City. The latest snow has fallen, however, is May 3, 1907, when 1.7 inches of snow fell. More recently, a half inch of snow fell on May 2, 2013.
This is the second year for Kansas City to come up on the short end of snow. Last winter, 5.9 inches of snow fell. Looking at the last five years, the amount of snowfall has varied widely.
In recent years, even the snowstorms have been rather meager. The last time Kansas City had a significant snowfall of more than 3 inches was on Feb. 4, 2014. On that day, 7.5 inches of snow fell, according to climate data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday shows that winter isn’t over. Highs are expected to be in the upper 30s, which is below the normal high of 41 degrees. Lows will be in the upper teens in some areas. And there’s snow in the forecast north of Kansas City along the Iowa border.
But spring-like temperatures return to the area with highs in the low to upper 60s on Friday and Saturday.
This time of year, Kansas City is entering a variable pattern of warm and cold spells.
“Chances are certainly better that we will get at least some snow before the year is up,” Blair said said.
The month-and-a-half outlook put out by the Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center suggests that Kansas City region will have a better chance of above average temperatures and about equal chances for normal precipitation.
“All it takes is one dynamic system to come in and give us some colder air and some snow — that can happen in a two- to three-day window during that month-and-a-half period,” Blair said.
Take a look how temperatures have taken the area on a roller coaster ride this year.
“We have been above normal for a large part of December and January, but we did have our cold spells,” Blair said.
And it wasn’t that long ago that Kansas City had a very snowy February. In 2013, 20.5 inches of snow fell on the city just that month.
“It certainly can happen during the month of February that we can get bombarded by that type of system if the (storm) tracks are just right and the cold air is in place,” Blair said.
Kansas City’s lack of snow is due to the paths that the storms have taken this season. Storms have tracked north of the area, with Nebraska and Iowa getting more snow. Even the southern systems have slid south of KC, across southern Missouri and Arkansas.
The lack of snow has its downside. Large portions of Missouri and Kansas are experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
About 80 percent of Missouri has abnormally dry conditions while another 8.5 percent has moderate drought conditions. About 39 percent of Kansas is abnormally dry, while nearly 20 percent has moderate drought conditions. Portions of southwest Kansas have severe drought conditions.
Blair urged people to remain mindful of the forecasts.
“While it’s been a pretty quiet winter, we should not completely let our guard down at this point,” Blair said. “It’s still only early February. All it takes is one or two big snowstorms to cause a pretty big problem.”