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Bowling Green’s snowfall at nearly 4 feet in past 12 months

If you think Bowling Green has received a ridiculous amount of snowfall recently, you would be correct.

Here is a look at winter weather data, provided by Dr. Greg Goodrich, associate professor of Meteorology with the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU:

Over the 12-month period stretching from Valentine’s Day 2015 to Valentine’s Day 2016, Bowling Green has received nearly 4 feet of snow (43.5 inches), which is more than five times the expected amount of around 8 inches for any 12-month period.

The nearly 10 inches of snow that fell on Feb. 16, 2015, marked the beginning of one of the most extraordinary 12-month periods of snowfall in the history of southcentral Kentucky. With the 5.5 inches of snow that fell this past Valentine’s day, the season total of 23.7 inches for the winter of 2015-16 is now the seventh snowiest winter in Bowling Green since 1920, just edging out the 23.5 inches of snow that fell last winter, which now ranks eighth. Including the 21.2 inches that fell in the winter of 2010-11, three of the past six winters rank among the top 10 winters of the past 97 years.

Top 10 snow seasons in Bowling Green since 1920

Year Snowfall
1959-60 48.0”
1977-78 37.7”
1967-68 30.7”
1978-79 27.3”
1947-48 25.9”
1963-64 25.0”
2015-16 23.7”
2014-15 23.5”
1935-36 23.0”
2010-11 21.2”

Even more remarkable is how the recent 12-month stretch of snowfall compares with northern cities around the United States that typically receive seasonal snowfall that is several times that of Bowling Green.

The historically strong El Niño that is believed to be responsible for the heavy snow in Kentucky is also responsible for the below average snowfall in the northern cities listed below due to a prevailing storm track the past two winters that has been much farther south than usual. One benefit to our southern location is the fact that Bowling Green has had far fewer days with measurable snow on the ground compared to the northern cities that have had less snowfall.

While warmer temperatures later this week will once again quickly melt away our recent snow, nearly a month remains in the climatological snow season, which means the winter of 2015-16 may yet climb the all-time rankings.

Snowfall and days with snow depth
in select cities from 2/14/2015 to 2/14/2016

City Snowfall Days with snow depth
Bowling Green, KY 43.5” 25
International Falls, MN 42.8” 119
Chicago, IL 39.3” 49
Minneapolis, MN 39.1” 81
Burlington, VT 38.9” 73
Salt Lake City, UT 38.7” 43
Billings, MT 37.7” 53
Cleveland, OH 35.8” 43
Anchorage, AK 30.6” 109
Madison, WI 30.5” 79
Detroit, MI 28.8” 44
Bismarck, ND 23.4” 62

WKU weather/climate resources: Kentucky Climate Center, Kentucky Mesonet, Meteorology Program, Meteorology Blog, WKU StormTopper Network on Twitter, College Heights Atmospheric Observatory for Students (CHAOS) on Twitter.

Contact: Greg Goodrich, (270) 745-5986

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