Lack of snow in Columbia has historical significance, repercussions

Thursday, December 13, 2012 | 7:41 p.m. CST; updated 8:53 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 13, 2012
2012 is now sixth on the list of years with the most consecutive days without measurable snow in Columbia, according to the National Weather Service. It’s been more than 300 days since the last snowfall.

COLUMBIA — Dreaming of a white Christmas? Don't get your hopes up.

An ongoing streak has edged its way up to No. 6 on the list of most consecutive days without measurable snow in Columbia since 1890, according to the National Weather Service. It has been 303 days since the last measurable snow. 

This is the longest stretch since 2009, when Columbia went 324 days without snow. Topping the list at No. 1 was 2001, with 334 days sans frosty flakes.

"Anytime you get within the top 10 of a particular element, it is pretty noteworthy," National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Miller said Thursday. "You're in the top 10 percent of all time. It's pretty remarkable that we have gone as long as we have without measurable snow."

The forecast for the next seven days does not include any signs of snow. If Columbia goes eight more days without snow, the streak will tie 2002 as No. 4 on the list.  

"I could easily see us jumping up to higher places on the list," Miller said. "We have a long ways to go to break the all-time record in 2001, though."

Warm temperatures and an early end to winter in February are both factors in the lack of snowfall, according to the weather service.

"Couple that with a dry spring and, even if it was cold, it would not have made a whole lot of difference, because there was not a whole lot of rain,"  Miller said.

The lack of snow means fewer sales for snow removal businesses. 

Richard Green, general manager for Knapheide Truck Equipment Co. in Jefferson City, said he has had significantly lower sales of snowplows and ice control equipment this year.

"It is why I am getting old and bald," he said.

Green said sales of snow removal equipment are more dependent on the forecast than on actual snowfall.

"When it doesn't snow, not only do we not sell new equipment, but our parts and service sales are reduced," he said.

Sales might drop further if snow does not come before January, he said.

"If we don't get a forecast for snow pretty soon, most people will think it will only snow once or twice and can get by," Green said. "If we get into January with no snow, very few people will do anything because they think it will melt away first."

Amazing Grass owner Chris Hayden has owned his business for about six years. He said sales have suffered more this winter than previous years. 

"We are running out of normal things to do," Hayden said. "All we are doing is leaf removals, but the drought affected that anyways. There's not much to do right now. Everyone is waiting for snow."

Hayden said fewer people have signed up for his snow removal list, but he will remain optimistic.

"We have had so many days pass without snow that nobody thinks it is coming," Hayden said. "I'm thinking it will pick up. I'm expecting snow within three weeks. If we don't get snow, yeah, we are going to be in a hard place. But it has to come. I know it will."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Derrick Fogle December 13, 2012 | 8:25 p.m.

By far, the longest outdoor Hacky Sack season EVAR!!!1!!

Too bad this is like enjoying the nice scenery on a train ride towards hell.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 14, 2012 | 9:39 a.m.

As long as we are having fun with this one, let me play. I'll put some fuzzy math to the above numbers and then pull some defense from the headlines of the day.

Let's see here. Statisticians often call the most extreme result an anomoly. So, let's look at the averages of the two streaks on each end of the spectrum and average them to make sure we are using sound science ;-)

The average of the longest two streaks comes out to a streak of 331.5 days and the average of the two years is 1960. The average of the shortest two streaks on the list is 295 days for the average year of 1994. So, clearly we have a trend line showing a trend toward more cold and snow. No snow for 331.5 days in 1960* (Never mind the asterisk... These are not the droids you're looking for...) and we only had to wait 295 days for snow in 1994*. That is a trend of about a day less wait per year. (36 days less wait over the 34 year time frame)

So, clearly we have to do something about this problem of too much snow. It is the most pressing problem I can think of. I mean c'mon. If this trend continues by the time we get to the year 2289 it is going to snow EVeRY DaY !!!

You people need to wake up!

By the way, anyone that dares disagree with me or questions my arithmatic, has clearly identified themselves as a racist and should be thrown in jail.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 14, 2012 | 9:59 a.m.

Now now, MikeM.

You forgot the 95% confidence interval around your 2 point regression line which, I think, will show that the calculated slope of the line for number of consecutive non-snow days versus time is either positive, negative, or zero.

A startling discovery, indeed!

PS: Great post! I'm still laffin'. I REALLY liked how you pulled together the obviously closely-related concepts of climate change and racism as happens so often these dayz. I'm glad you've figured out how to do this. Truly remarkable. I'm envious.


(Report Comment)

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