Dear Tom,

What are the most days in January we have gone without snow coverage on the ground?

Neal Veen, Plano

Dear Neal,

Through mid-January, Chicago has officially logged just 0.4 inches of snow and at no time this month has reported any snow cover other than the short-lived few-tenths of snow when it fell. Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski checked the city’s January snow cover records which date back to January 1885, and found that while rare, a no snow cover January is not unprecedented. Wachowski noted four Januarys that had minimal snowfall and never reported a 1-inch snow cover. The years were 1900 (0.3”), 1934 (0.3”), 1949 (0.5”) and most recently 2017 (0.6”). The next question is what the snowfall was like for the rest of the winter following those nearly snowless Januarys. In 1900, the additional snowfall totaled a whopping 33 inches, led by February’s 22.6-inch total. In 1934, additional winter snowfall totaled 16.6 inches, and in 1949 22.4 inches. In 2017 winter continued basically snowless with just a trace in February but picked up in March with 7.8 inches. April 2017 was snowless with the 2016-17 seasonal total just 26.1 inches.