Historically, those of us in the Northeastern United States could expect to see snow anywhere from November to March, generally, with some exceptions from year to year.  Over the past twenty years, there have been a few snow storms that stood out more than the rest; “The Storm of the Century”, 1993…”the Blizzard of ’96”, 1996…”New York City Blizzard”, 2006 (1).  With environmental changes such as global warming and pollution, among many other factors that will affect the pattern of weather we have come to expect over the years, it’s uncertain how this will change the future weather patterns and what will become our “new normal”.

That being said, what has history shown us so far?  The chart below illustrates the range of snowfall over twenty years from a sampling of locations across the Northern US:

Snowfall in inches

At quick glance, it is not evident that there has been a definitive decline in snowfall totals between the years 1996 – 2016.    Now let’s look at temperatures.  This next chart illustrates the lowest recorded temps in the same sampling of states over the same time period:

Low Temps

In North Dakota, 1996 brought temperatures down to -39°F.  in 2002 and 2006, the low temps were 20° warmer, at -19°F.  Concerning?  A little, yes.  However, in 2009 we see the temperature drop back down to -44°F.  Ok, so that’s just a 20 year snap-shot.  What about records prior to that?  In 1986, the low for the month of February was -23°.  1976 brought low temps of -6° and 1956 & 1966 were both in the -20°s.  North Dakota has some of the lowest temperatures on record, but as you can see above, the other states surveyed show a similar pattern.(2)

What does this all mean with respect to what we can expect going forward?  At this point, it appears that we can continue to plan for snowfall as we have in the past.  It can be said that weather is unpredictable, but its patterns may indicate otherwise.  Consider this when bidding for snow removal contracts or, if you are an agent, when you advise your insured on the types of snow removal contracts to consider.  A well-constructed contract will allow a snow removal contracting company to operate at its highest performance level without worrying about situations that will arise after they leave the job-site.

As for now, it looks like we will be ‘plowing through’ for many more years if the weather we have come to understand follows its historic template.  For information on snow removal as it relates to insurance, visit our website at www.snowplowrisk.com.

(1) Ianetta, Gabriella. “5 Biggest Snowstorms to Hit Northeast.” NBC New York, 27 January 2015.  Web.  28 June 2016.
(2)  Weather Source (www.weathersource.com). Web.  13 June 2016