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2018–19 North American winter

The 2018–19 North American winter is winter in North America as it is occurring across the continent from late 2018 through early 2019. So far, notable events have included snow in the Southeast in December and a strong cold wave that affected the U.S. in late January. Unlike previous winters, a developing El Niño was expected to influence weather patterns across North America.

2018–19 North American winter
Seasonal boundaries
Astronomical winterDecember 21 – March 20
Meteorological winterDecember 1 – February 28
Most notable event
NameWinter Storm Bruce (could change)
Maximum snow accumulation

While there is no well-agreed-upon date used to indicate the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, there are two definitions of winter which may be used. Based on the astronomical definition, winter begins at the winter solstice, which in 2018 occurred on December 21, 2018, and ends at the March equinox, which in 2019 will occur on March 20, 2019.[1] Based on the meteorological definition, the first day of winter is December 1 and the last day February 28.[2] Both definitions involve a period of approximately three months, with some variability. Winter is often defined by meteorologists to be the three calendar months with the lowest average temperatures. Since both definitions span the calendar year, it is possible to have a winter storm in two different years.


Seasonal forecastsEdit

Temperature outlook
Precipitation outlook

On October 18, 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center released its U.S. Winter Outlook. The outlook noted a 70 to 75% chance of El Niño developing. CPC Deputy Director Mike Halpert specified that development was expected to occur by late fall to early winter. He added that while the El Niño was expected to be weak, it still had the potential to bring drier conditions to the northern United States and wetter conditions to the southern U.S. The outlook also noted the potential for the Arctic oscillation to bring colder-than-average conditions to the eastern U.S. and the possibility of the Madden-Julian oscillation contributing to heavy-precipitation events along the West Coast. The temperature outlook favored warmer-than-normal conditions across the northern and western U.S. with the highest probabilities from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains and in Alaska. Such conditions were also favored in Hawaii. The outlook also noted that the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the U.S. Southeast had equal chances of either above-, below-, or near-average temperatures. The outlook did not delineate any areas likely to experience below-average conditions. The precipitation outlook noted an elevated probability of wetter-than-average conditions across the southern tier of the United States and along the eastern U.S. up to the Mid-Atlantic. Drier conditions were favored in parts of the northern Rockies and northern Plains, northern Ohio Valley, and Great Lakes regions. The drought outlook mentioned a high likelihood for drought conditions to persist across parts of the southwestern U.S., southern California, the central Great Basin, the central Rockies, the northern Plains, and parts of the interior Pacific Northwest. Drought conditions were favored to improve in the central Plains, the coastal Pacific Northwest, southern portions of Colorado and Utah, and in various areas in both Arizona and New Mexico.[3]


Early December winter stormEdit

A significant winter storm brought snow and ice from Southern plains to the Southeast.[4][5] Early on December 8, 10.5 inches (27 centimetres) of snow fell in Lubbock, TX. Snow fell as south and east as Abilene, TX. This storm caused thousands of people to lose power and 60 car crashes were reported across the Lubbock area. This will be the third time Lubbock has had a double digit snowfall. Only 4 inches were predicted across Lubbock , the residents were shocked to wake up to almost a foot of snow. The storm moved east from Texas and Oklahoma to the Carolinas and Virginia. The storm caused icing across Tennessee and Arkansas, as well as some snowfall. Late on December 9, 1 foot (30 centimetres) of snow or more had fallen in parts of North Carolina and Virginia;[6] both states had declared states of emergency. 240,000 Duke Energy customers had lost power in North Carolina, along with 170,000 more in South Carolina. Appalachian Power had 20,000 without power in Virginia.[7] Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee also had power outages. Charlotte Douglas International Airport had over 1,000 cancellations.[6] Near Winston-Salem, over 14 inches of snow fell, and part of Greensboro, North Carolina received nearly a foot. Three people died in North Carolina.[8] Busick, North Carolina received 34 inches of snow.[9]

Mid-January winter stormEdit

A state of emergency was declared in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as a large winter storm made its way to the Northeastern United States. Three people have already been killed in the Midwest.[10][11] As of January 21, over 4,800 flights had been cancelled and 3,000 delayed.[12] Interstate 55 in Missouri was blocked when snow caused 15 vehicles to crash. Snow totals in New York included 10-15 inches in the Albany area, 18-20 inches in the Adirondacks, and a foot of snow in Buffalo. Connecticut had nearly 28,000 lose power, as well as 3,000 in Ohio.[13]

Late January winter stormsEdit

The storm as seen in Toronto
Radar loop of the Late January Storm Hitting Michigan

A storm, resulting from a polar vortex from the north, was expected to bring blizzard conditions and between 6–12 inches of snow to the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region starting in the late evening hours of January 27, while a separate storm was expected to affect the Southeast.[14] Midwestern cities, including Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago[15] and Milwaukee[16] are under wind chill advisories and severe wind chill warnings with wind chills approaching −55 °F (−48 °C) at night.[15] Chicago area schools, universities, public transportation, and cultural attractions announced closures or reduced schedules during the weather emergency.[17][18] Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared states of emergency due to the record low windchill temperatures.[19][20] At least 22 people reportedly died due to the storm, as of January 31, 2019.[21]

Early February winter stormsEdit

On February 3 parts of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin were 50 to 60 degrees warmer than the previous week, but this weather created the potential for an ice storm as well as a risk for floods from quick melting of snow.[22] Despite the area's first ice storm warning in nine years[23] Chicago remained too warm for ice,[24] By February 8, 160,000 in Michigan had lost power due to high winds and ice, with many of those in the Grand Rapids area and in Ionia and Montcalm counties.[25]

On February 8, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency as a winter storm that could bring up to 8 inches (20 cm) of snow began to affect the state. More than 50,000 customers were without power on February 9, according to Puget Sound Energy, while 180 flights from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport have been canceled. The storm is also affecting several national parks in California, with dozens of people in the Sierra Nevada requiring rescue due to the extreme conditions. [26] Some places in the Seattle metropolitan area received 10 inches (25 cm) of snow on February 9, the most in 70 years.[27]

Another storm began on February 11, with some areas in the Midwestern and Northeastern United States expected to receive up to 12 inches (30 cm) of snow in the upcoming days, as well as parts of Ontario and Quebec expected to receive 14 inches (35cm) .[28] In Toronto, all schools were closed on February 12 in anticipation of the storm.[citation needed] Ice and snow in Chicago resulted i 70,000 ComEd power outages.[29]


  1. ^ "Earth's Seasons: Equinoxes, Solstices, Perihelion, and Aphelion, 2000-2025" (PHP). Washington, D.C.: United States Naval Observatory. March 27, 2015. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "Meteorological vs. Astronomical Seasons". NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. June 21, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  3. ^ "Winter Outlook favors warmer temperatures for much of U.S.: Wet southern states to contrast drought in West". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. October 18, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  4. ^ meteorologists (December 6, 2018). "Winter Storm Diego To Bring Cross-Country Swath of Snow, Ice From Southern Plains to the Southeast". The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Lapin, Tamar (December 6, 2018). "Winter Storm Diego set to wreak havoc across the southern US". New York Post. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Winter storm causes icy roads across swath of South". Winston-Salem Journal. Associated Press. December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "More snow and sleet on the way, Weather Service says". Salisbury Post. December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  8. ^ Shaffer, Josh; Stradling, Richard (December 10, 2018). "Winter storm kills three in NC as 'staggering' amount of snow falls". News & Observer. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  9. ^ "Massive winter storm kills three, causes travel havoc in the Southeast". NBC. December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Reports: Snowstorm ramps up in Northeast after turning deadly in Midwest AccuWeather, January 19, 2019
  11. ^ Winter Storm Harper: Travel Bans, Flights Canceled; Plane Slides Off O'Hare Runway The Weather Channel, January 19, 2019]
  12. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (January 21, 2019). "Snow fallout: Airlines canceled more than 4,800 flights since Friday". USA Today. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "Winter storm slams east after blanketing Midwest". CBS News. January 20, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  14. ^ Winter Storm Jayden Will Spread Snow From Northern Plains to Great Lakes and South; Blizzard Conditions Reported in Northern Plains The Weather Channel, January 27, 2019
  15. ^ a b "Chicago Weather Forecast: A Deep Freeze Danger Has Extreme Cold Settling In, With Wind Chills Approaching 55 Below At Night". January 29, 2019.
  16. ^ "Evening Update: A new wind chill advisory has been issued". CBS58.
  17. ^ Rosenberg-Douglas, Katherine. "Chicago schools aren't alone in closing during the cold snap. We're keeping track here".
  18. ^ "Here's everything closing during Chicago's dangerous cold snap".
  19. ^ Gov. Whitmer declares state of emergency in Michigan WILX, January 28, 2019
  20. ^ Road conditions deteriorating rapidly as Evers declares a state of emergency and frigid temperatures move in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 28, 2019
  21. ^ Relief coming for blast-chilled Midwest, but not until after another record-low day NBC News, January 30, 2019
  22. ^ Randazzo, Sara; Barrett, Joe (February 3, 2019). "Rapid Warm-Up Puts Midwest on High Alert". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  23. ^ Greene, Morgan (February 6, 2019). "Ice storms: Explaining a Chicago winter's rarest weather hazard". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  24. ^ Malagon, Elvia (February 6, 2019). "Chicago was mostly spared from a predicted ice storm. Here's why". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  25. ^ Siacon, Aleanna (February 8, 2019). "High winds leave more than 160,000 Michigan customers without power". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  26. ^ Snow storm wallops Pacific Northwest, people rescued in Sierra Nevada NBC News, February 9, 2019
  27. ^ Seattle receives the most snow in 70 years, bitter cold temperatures expected CBS News, February 9, 2019
  28. ^ Snowstorms expected to bring travel woes, power issues to Midwest, Northeast NBC News, February 11, 2019
  29. ^ Jessica D'Onofrio, Diane Pathieu, Evelyn Holmes, Michelle Gallardo and Liz Nagy (February 12, 2019). "Chicago Weather: Ice causes crashes, power outages, slick surfaces in Chicago area". WLS-TV. Retrieved February 14, 2019.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)

  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
North American winters
Succeeded by