Boston is known for many things – championship sports teams, iconic history, world-renowned universities, and unfortunately, cold and snowy winters. If you’re considering a winter visit to “Beantown” or recently moved to Boston, you may be wondering: just how much does it snow here?
As a city accustomed to bracing for winter storms and surviving snow season each year, Bostonians have a love-hate relationship with winter weather. While picturesque snowfalls bring holiday cheer and winter wonderlands, heavy accumulations and blizzards can also wreak havoc by disrupting travel, closing schools and businesses, and more.
So how can you know what to expect from Boston winters? This guide will overview the Hub’s average seasonal snow totals, the biggest snowstorms, how meteorologists forecast winter weather, top safety tips for navigating snow conditions, and what coming winters may look like across New England according to the latest climate models. Learning to prepare for and manage snowy conditions is key to experiencing the best of what Boston has to offer, even during the colder months.
Boston’s Average Annual Snowfall Totals
To understand what a typical winter entails precipitation-wise, we first need to examine Boston’s snowfall baselines using historical climate records. According to National Weather Service data recorded at Boston’s Logan International Airport weather station over the past 50 years, the city sees an average seasonal snow accumulation of around 43.8 inches.
The month of February tends to be Boston’s snowiest, averaging 14.2 inches of snowfall based on the collected weather patterns and storm track data. Winter weather can vary greatly from year to year though, and Boston has seen as little as 18.2 total inches during the 2014-2015 winter season up to a whopping 108.6 inches of snow during the record-setting winter of 2015-2016.
So while the averages give you an idea of what to reasonably expect, it’s important to note that Boston winters have seen their share of weather extremes and major snowstorms that eclipse seasonal climate norms. Monitoring the winter weather outlooks and reliable snowfall forecast sources is advised to stay prepared for both mild and intense winter conditions.
I focused this section on establishing Boston’s baseline snowfall figures while working on keywords around historical records, weather patterns, seasonal averages, and climate data. Please let me know if you would like me to expand on any area more or if you have any suggestions to enhance the integration of keywords! Ready for your feedback and pointers as we build out this article section-by-section.
Forecasting Boston Winter Storms and Snowfalls
Predicting just which winter storms will bring heavy snow to Boston and monitoring developing weather conditions is an important aspect of preparing for snowfall. There are a few key factors meteorologists analyze when forecasting incoming winter weather:
Weather Models and Reporting
- Global and regional forecast models: Provide precipitation estimates and confidence metrics to predict snow volume, location, and timing.
- Storm track monitoring: Analyze low-pressure direction to see if Boston is in the “snow zone”.
- Blizzard vs winter storm watches and warnings: Indicate when confidence is high that significant snow will occur.
New England Weather Patterns
- Nor’easters: Strong coastal storms that often funnel moisture into heavy Northeast snowstorms.
- Convergence zones: Where cold arctic fronts and warmer air masses clash to create precipitation.
Boston Area Influences
- Ocean proximity: Typically increases moisture content leading to heavier snowfall rates.
- Topography: Enhances precipitation in some inland locations vs downtown.
By continually assessing and synthesizing these parameters, local Boston meteorologists can achieve reasonably accurate snowfall predictions on a case-by-case basis to assist residents with preparing for impactful winter weather.
However forecasting snow totals relies on many interrelated variables, so predictions for a given winter storm can change as new weather data emerges.
Notable Boston Snow Seasons and Extreme Snowstorms
Boston winters have produced their fair share of extreme snow events over the years that exceed averages and break records. Here is a recap of some particularly memorable snow seasons and major winter storms:
Top 3 Highest Seasonal Snowfall Totals
|All-time record, blizzards in Jan and Feb
|Frequent smaller storms with high totals
|Back-to-back blizzards created epic amounts
Most Impactful Historic Snowstorms
- The Great Blizzard of ‘78: Over 27 inches of snow fell, and millions were without power for a week or more.
- Valentine’s Day Storm 2007: Heavy 34-inch snowfall paralyzed the region for days.
- Nemo 2013: Near hurricane-force winds created 35-foot snow drifts.
Analyzing Boston’s high-water mark winters and biggest blizzards gives insight for the outliers beyond average snow seasons. The records show that while 43 inches is typical, the area frequently sees both mild and extreme winter weather thanks to an active storm track and proximity to moisture sources.
Preparing for Boston Snow Seasons and Winter Storms
While Boston winters are known for producing their fair share of snowfall each year, there are some ways locals and visitors alike can prepare by:
Winterizing Your Home
Having your home ready for cold and storms makes a big difference in staying safe and comfortable:
- Maintain heating systems.
- Insulate pipes and drafts.
- Test smoke and CO detectors.
- Stock emergency supplies like food, water, batteries.
Vehicle Preparation for Snowy Road Conditions
Driving in winter weather requires extra diligence:
- Install snow tires for increased traction.
- Pack an ice scraper, shovel, and blanket in the car.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full.
- Pilot conservation driving for slippery roads.
Have a Winter Storm Safety Plan
Every family should have procedures for intense winter weather scenarios:
- Confirm shelters and evacuation routes if the area floods/loses power.
- Decide on contingencies for childcare and transportation interruptions.
- Prepare go-bags with essential supplies.
How Snowstorms and Cold Weather Impact Life in Boston
Beyond just shoveling driveways, Boston’s winter weather directly affects many aspects of normal life across the city including:
Travel and Commuting Disruptions
- Logan Airport delays and cancellations during storms.
- MBTA train, bus, and subway service interruptions.
- Treacherous driving conditions on major roads.
School & Business Closures
- Snow days for Boston Public Schools and colleges.
- Non-essential businesses shutting down during blizzards.
- Reduced hours and services at stores, and restaurants.
Infrastructure and Power Issues
- Salting equipment and plow crews working around the clock.
- Isolated power outages from falling trees and icy lines.
Event Postponements and Modifications
- Rescheduled concerts, conferences, conventions.
- Sporting events played in the snow or spectator limits.
So while picturesque big snowfalls make for holiday scenes, the reality of managing winter weather includes impacted daily affairs, travel hurdles, and public safety coordination efforts.
As the historical data and seasonal averages demonstrate, Boston typically sees a fair amount of snow and intense winter weather during the cold season months. By location and climate alone, heavy snowfalls and even blizzards are not a matter of if, but when any given winter.
However, relying on records only goes so far in predicting future conditions in New England. Thanks to natural variability and climate change influences, forecasters expect Boston may experience a wider range of outcomes going forward.
Some years may bring rather mild, drier winters with fewer impactful storms. Other years may continue seeing high seasonal totals and perhaps more frequent bomb cyclones and nor’easters with heavy snows.
While snow will always be part of Boston’s seasonal identity, focusing preparedness efforts on managing winter responsibly makes for safer, less stressful experiences overall.
Does Boston get more snow than other cities?
Boston typically gets more seasonal snow than major coastal metros like New York City and Washington DC thanks to nor’easters and ample moisture supply from the nearby Atlantic Ocean that powers larger snowfall totals across the region based on historical winter weather trends.
How predictable is Boston’s winter weather?
While meteorologists attempt to forecast likely winter weather scenarios using predictive tools and storm models, there are always variables that decrease Boston snow predictability compared to forecasts for rain and other precipitation types. However, city planning agencies and services rise to the occasion annually with ample resources and practice to clear roadways.
What are the best months to visit Boston if you dislike snow?
Visitors aiming to avoid winter conditions will likely find the most pleasant Boston weather for exploration and travel during late spring through early fall stretching from May to September according to visitor trends and peak tourism seasons aligned with the mildest temperatures, though thicker coats may still be needed during Boston’s notoriously cooler mornings and nights.