Des Moines and Waterloo win bragging rights for all the snow they shoveled in February
Five tips to stay safe on icy, snowy roads in Iowa. Des Moines Register
Iowans like to believe we can deal with any weather, but February felt different.
We shoveled out the snow at the start of the month. And then again. And again. And again. Every weekend the skies seemed to open up and dump another half-foot of snow across the state, with a few midweek storms thrown in for good measure.
If you felt like you've never seen a February this snowy in Iowa, the numbers bear that out: For the first time on record, Des Moines received more than 25 inches of snow in the shortest month of the year.
The weather was worse in Waterloo, where more than 31 inches of snow fell in February. That's the second-snowiest month on record in Waterloo — in just 28 days.
Here in Des Moines, we didn't come close to setting a record for most snow in a month — January 1886's mark of 37 inches will be difficult to beat — but this February did finish comfortably inside the top 10.
Part of what made February so remarkable was its consistency. In fact, Des Moines never reached six inches of snow in a single day. Instead, the snow was slow and steady. At least trace amounts of snow were measured on 37 of the first 59 days of the year (nearly 63 percent).
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And if it felt like the snow settled into a pattern during February, well, there's a reason your weekends haven't been all that fun lately. Des Moines has gotten more snow on weekends in 2019 than the five weekdays combined.
That pattern meant the snow barely had a chance to melt before the next round came through.
The National Weather Service also measures the depth of snow on the ground, and since Feb. 5, there's been at least a trace amount of snow dusting the ground. But it's been worse in the second half of the month: There's been at least seven inches of snow on the ground in Des Moines since Feb. 17.
All that snow means we have to be closing in on a record for most snow in a single winter, right?
The snowiest winter in recent memory was in 2009-10, when 69 inches fell by season's end. But take a look at snowfall totals over time, and you can see that Des Moines had a slow start to the winter, receiving only 2.7 inches of snow prior to the New Year. There's still a long way to go to catch the winter of nine years ago, but February closed the gap significantly.
At least there's this, Iowans: Despite all the snow, February's temperatures never bottomed out like they did in January. The mercury dropped below zero just thrice during the month.
However, February was never truly warm, either. A reprieve immediately following January's Arctic blast was as warm as the month got. After Feb. 4, the temperature surpassed freezing (32 degrees) just three times.
Looking ahead, there's good news and bad news for Iowa. The good news? February is over. The bad news? March looks like more of the same, according to the National Weather Service.