History is telling us that we are in for a very snowy few months to start 2021.By Ron Smiley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You may be surprised to learn that so far this December, while snowy, hasn’t been particularly cold.

In fact for the month, temperatures are running 0.4 degrees warmer than average through Sunday.

This is setting up to what could be one of the snowiest seasons ever in Pittsburgh.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Brian Smithmyer)

Of note, the city has already recorded 63 percent (26.1”) of it’s 30-year average of snow through Dec 27.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

That’s already the fourth most snow so far this soon into the snow season.

You’d have to go back to 1969 to find the last time the city had recorded this much snow this early into the season.

If our assumption is just that the rest of the season is ‘normal’ (January, February, March and April) we’d add on 30.6” of snow.

This would be a whopping 56.7” of snow for the year and would be good for the 21st snowiest year on record in Pittsburgh.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

There are reasons to believe that we should ‘take the over’, however, when it comes to our yearly snow totals heading into the new year.

(Photo Credit: KDAK)

Reasons include:

  • Low ice build up over Lake Erie and lake temperatures that are still on the warm side on the easern side of the lake including just north of us.
    • This should allow us to see lake effect snow showers well into January and possibly even into February.
    • Lake effect snow showers generally are something more prevalent at the beginning of the season before the lake freezes over and when water temperatures are still on the warm side.
    • You need about a 20 degree difference in lake water temperature as compared to air just above the surface to get lake effect snow.
  • Snowpack extends well down to the US-Canadian line with substantial snowpack of 10” or more for a big part of southern Ontario and Quebec.
    • Snow on the ground decreases surface temperatures and makes it easier for cold air to move south from the poles.
    • Our temperatures may very well stay slightly above average and we could still see substantial snow events for the rest of our winter season.
  • While not as scientific, out of the three dates on the list with more snow up until this point in the season only one falls outside the top 20 when it comes to snow totals, coming in at 23.
    • The other two are in the top ten overall with one, 1950-51 being the snowiest year on record here in Pittsburgh.

Buckle up! History is telling us that we are in for a very snowy few months to start 2021.