Snow Depth Days
of the Northeast: 2003-2004

The season in review

The first snow of the 03/04 season fell on October 23th over much of the area, one year to the day of the first measurable snow of the previous year. That was about it until early December.

December featured two large storms in the first half of the month, but then warm weather and rain melted nearly all of it, but the piles of shoveled and plowed snow provided a reminder of the storms.

January started out well above average, but then the bottom fell off the thermometer. Three cold snaps set new records throughout the region. Several places broke the old record by over 5 degrees. Mt. Washington reached -45F, two degrees from its all-time low. Here in Penacook our low for the month was -14F. We had eleven days with sub-zero readings and two days with a high a fraction of a degree above zero. Once the cold hit, only one day made it above freezing.

Blue Hill recorded two record low minima and four record low maxima during the month. The average temperature tied for third coldest January in their 119 year record.

Cold air is dry air. It's also heavy air and creates "cold air damming" that forces storms to the south. Penacook had only 6" of snow, but we ended the month with more snow on the ground than at the start.

February brought warmer temperatures, but one cold snap returned the area to sub-zero mornings. However, the storm track stayed south and Penacook had only slightly more snow than in January. Cape Cod and even North Carolina had more. Only a few days were above freezing, and those were dry, so the snow pack showed little melting until the last few days of the month.

Daily/Monthly Data

The following table summarizes the snow fall and depth days from sites that are posting that data on the WHDH weather observations mail list and a couple others. If people also prepare Web pages for daily information for their site, I'll include links to them. Cells under the "snow" column are the snowfall for the site in that month, under "SDD" are the depth days for the month.

Location October November December January February March April May
Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD Snow SDD
Collinsville CT 0.9 0 0 0 16.6 54 15.1 72 7 214 12.5 41.0
N Berlin MA 2 1 0 0 20 85 7.8 58 5.7 99 11.5 30.0
Fairhaven MA 0 0 0 0 19.5 66 10.1 33 5.8 20 8.9 20.0
Marlboro MA 0 0 0 0 22.1 64 9.3 44 4 70 11.2 33.0
Pepperell MA 0.7 0 0 0 21.8 111 10 107 7.1 178 12.6 34.0 0.1 0
Poland Spring ME 0.3 0 0 0 31.6 133 2.2 23 14.4 111 6 21.0 1.4 2
Derry NH 0 0 0 0 23.2 108 8.6 95 5 131 10.8 25.0
Penacook NH 0.7 1 0.5 0.0 28.5 157 6.1 108 7.2 213 7.6 25.0
Charlestown RI 0 0 0 0 19.6 56 16.1 62 4.1 36 9.6 23.0
Woonsocket RI 0 0 0 0 21.1 85 8.7 34 2.4 11 10 24.8
Mt. Mansfield VT 4.2 19 18.5 249 61 1241 33.5 1880 36.3 2324 32.7 2795.0 13.8 2303 10.5 461

2003/2004 season to end of last month

The persistence quotient is lower than the ultimate value if there is still snow on the ground at the site. This data will be updated each month.

Location Snowfall Depth Days Persistence
Collinsville CT 52.1 381 7.3
N Berlin MA 47 273 5.8
Fairhaven MA 44.3 139 3.1
Marlboro MA 46.6 211 4.5
Pepperell MA 52.3 430 8.2
Poland Spring ME 55.9 290 5.2
Derry NH 47.6 359 7.5
Penacook NH 50.6 504 10.0
Charlestown RI 49.4 177 3.6
Woonsocket RI 42.2 154.8 3.7
Mt. Mansfield VT 210.5 11272 53.5


Name Location Email name Email domain
Dennis Bollea Fairhaven MA 76624.2745
A Cadoret Woonsocket RI cumulus
Wayne Cotterly Poland Spring ME cotterly
Matthew Douglas Milton MA mdouglas
Milton-BHO MA
Todd Gross N Berlin MA tgross
Watoquadoc Hill MA
Paul Hansen Marlboro MA paulh01
Jim Hilt Derry NH jimhilt
Andrew Plona Collinsville CT nwconnecticut
Chris Seeber Charlestown RI cseeber
Paul Venditti Pepperell MA paulvenditti
Ric Werme Penacook NH ric


Jim Corbin, a meteorologist from Rhode Island, proposed the concept of both snow depth days and the persistence quotient, but he didn't have good names for them.  After a bouncing around various ideas, I came up with Depth Days.  It seems to fit into colloquial speech well, e.g. "When mired in the Depth Days of February, she thought fondly of the Dog Days of August." Of course, none of us snow lovers would ever think that. I picked Persistence Quotient while putting this page together, we'll see how it wears with time.


I think depth days is a great statistic, and I'm surprised that it is catching on slowly outside of the wxobs-sne mail list. I never expected that the NWS would embrace it quickly, but I had hoped that TV meteorologists would start using it, in monthly summaries, if nothing else. It would be nice if ski areas would use it, but they may not wish to if they are not likely to be #1 consistantly. (And if only one area reports depth days, it would not be a good comparative statistic.) The University of Vermont has graphs of snow depths at Stowe through many seasons.

Last update: 2005 April 2
Ric Werme

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