During the months of December 2011 through February 2012, significant snow fell; It just didn’t fall in the United States. Due to heavy snowfall across central and eastern Europe in January and February, the Eurasia winter snow cover reached the 4th highest in recorded history. In the United States, however, winter snow cover was at its 4th lowest.

In February alone, the US had the 16th lowest snow cover ever, while Eurasia was the 3rd highest. In all of the Northern Hemisphere, February 2012 was the 8th highest snow cover extent in history.

This marks the first February and Winter (Dec-Feb) since 2006 with below-average snow cover extent for the North American continent, and the smallest Winter since 2000. The monthly average snow cover extent for February 2012 was 6.4 million square miles, which is 161,800 square miles below the long-term average.

Part of the reason for the low snow in the US was due to the high temperatures. The US experienced the 4th warmest winter on record. In contrast, Eurasia’s February temperatures were extremely below normal. Overall, the globe experienced its 22nd warmest February since record keeping began in 1880.

Read more about the State of the Climate on NOAA’s SOTC page.


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