Snow lovers in Lancaster County have not had a good winter.
As parts of California deal with record-setting amounts of snow, residents here are left to wonder how we’ve managed to get less than an inch of snow six months into the winter season, which the Millersville University Weather Information Center defines as the period from October through April.
The very different-looking winter scenes were caused by the same weather phenomenon, according to Kyle Elliott, director of the weather information center.
Elliott blames the position of the jet stream, which he said is the river of atmospheric air that moves across the continent influencing weather. Due to the La Niña climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean pushing the jet stream north, he said, the “river“ turned south in the western states this winter, funneling in cold air and moisture. As it continued east, the river turned north once again, leaving eastern states with warmer, drier air.
“What goes down must come up,” Elliott said.
The result: high elevations in California saw their highest snow totals in a decade — roughly 50 feet. For central Pennsylvania, that has meant warmer, drier conditions.
Barring a highly unusual spring snowstorm, the 2022-23 winter season will end with Lancaster County’s lowest total snowfall since the 1926-27 winter season. Only 0.9 inches of snow has fallen on the county so far this season. The previous low was 4 inches in 1949-50.
“We’re on track to obliterate that record,” Elliott said.
This season’s snow event that produced the paltry 0.9 inches occurred on Jan. 25. It was followed immediately by rain that washed any snowfall away.