SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– It may sound unbelievable but the average annual snow is Springfield is actually 17 inches. Springfield so far this winter season has gotten 7.3 inches of snow, but not one event dropped more than an inch. In fact, Springfield has not had a single day with more than 2.5 inches of snow since 2015.
Our last big snow was February 15, 2015, a two-day event that dropped over 7″ of snow! Since then, each winter season has been snow-starved, topping 10 inches below average some years.
“Oh, snowstorm is coming, the day before…We’d get bombed!” Bob Bowman is the assistant manager at Westlake Hardware and remembers the door-buster chaos for shovels and sleds. But, fewer procrastinators and fewer big snows have led to a shift in his sales. Now, ice melt and ice cleats are the big sellers.
“We all hate to say climate change but we know its there. We’re getting more rains and these cooler weathers — they make ice. The snow is not quite as prevalent,” he explains.
In fact, a new report puts Springfield at the top of that list, of 145 cities analyzed, Springfield is number 5 for the largest snow loss at 46%.
Our annual totals have dropped off in recent years from near average to barely getting any.
Part of the reason is more snow is falling as rain. Winters have warmed 3 degrees since 1970 in Springfield, a fever felt nationwide.
Springfield specifically sees an average of 6 fewer days below normal in winter, as winter continues to lose its chill.
One study shows every state in the lower-48 will see fewer days with below-freezing temperatures by the year 2100.
So with this decline in snow, we haven’t needed a shovel in quite a while. So, I was curious, do you even own a shovel?! After a curious look and a loud laugh, some residents had interesting answers…
“No, because it’ll be 50 by noon the next day.”
“It’s a lonely shovel…ready to go just in case!”
“Yeah, I own snowblowers, stuff like that… an electric snowblower and a gas snowblower. It’s in the shed, it’s not crying…leave it alone!”
One resident used his snow shovel last week, but for mud!
Shovels aren’t the only ones feeling lonely lately. “The big gray one right there, I bought that one two years ago and it’s plowed twice,” Mark Fahlstrom has been the owner of Oasis Lawn Care for 11 years. He says plowing used to be a significant source of income in the off-season but now he has a fleet of 6 plows…” it’s just not deep enough or cold enough for us to actually have to plow it off” without much snow.
Like Bob at Westlake Hardware, Mark finds himself busier laying down salt. And strategically, he added more clients for snow plowing, “we can say ok, let’s add some more on that are more of a high priority, like as nursing home, assisted living place, or storefront” hoping they’ll call for small snows, hoping for any snow at all.
“Every year I’m like ‘Oh, this is going to be a good winter, this is going to be a good winter’ and all I can do is hope and pray for snow in this line of work,” says Mark.
“We got our grass seed and we got our snow shovels, it’s just whatever takes” jokes Bob.
Nationwide, while Springfield and other communities in the south find a sharp decrease in snow during winter, our friends to the north actually find an increase in snow due to warming temperatures. How? Warming temperatures fuel stronger coastal storms and load the air with more moisture, oftentimes leading to more snow where it is cold enough to actually snow.