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Weather Focus

Active, wet weather patterns push winter season to record levels in Boston area

From flooding rains to massive storm surges and overflowing rivers, this moisture powerhouse of a season still isn’t over yet

A man walks through the flooded parking lot behind Front Street in Scituate to rescue his car on Jan. 13. The heavy rains combined with a high tide caused massive flooding in the Boston area.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

After all of the intense and stormy weather that New England has experienced over the past couple of months, the winter of 2024 so far is shaping up as one of the wettest on record, with over a foot of precipitation having fallen since Dec. 1. Typically, the region would have seen about half that amount to date.

Worcester has seen its wettest winter this year, with over 15 inches of rain and snow having deluged the city.

And Boston is pacing well behind its historical average — at 13.62 inches for December and January vs. 7.69 inches of precipitation the region typically averages — ranking it the fifth wettest winter for the two-month period since 1870. That’s about 3 inches behind the top spot, a record 16.12 inches set in 1958.

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The first two months of meteorological winter have been very wet in the Northeast.NOAA

Now that February is here and we’re two-thirds of the way through meteorological winter, it’s worth a quick look at the past couple of months to touch on these impressive records.

This season has not only been marked by vast amounts of moisture, but the unusual, above-average warmth has meant that the influx of precipitation that New England saw in December and January was in the form of rain -- not snow. The Boston area has so far gotten only 9.2 inches of snow this winter season.

The flooding rainstorms that pounded the region on Dec. 18 and Jan. 10 and 13 accounted for a good portion of the precipitation.

A man walks through the flooded parking lot behind Front Street in Scituate to rescue his car on Jan. 13. The heavy rains combined with a high tide caused massive flooding in the Boston area.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Precipitation averages (1991-2020) for the Boston area

Total precipitation averages.NOAA

The two maps below show the rankings of precipitation and temperature.

In fact, notice that the entire Northeast experienced another Top 10 period of heavy moisture and atypical warmth.

Worcester and other communities saw the wettest December-January pairing on record. Boston and many other cities and towns had a Top 5 wet two-month period.NOAA
It was a Top 10 warm start to winter across the Northeast corridor this year.NOAA

Taking a look at the past five years of snowfall, you might have forgotten that we actually had some above-average snowfall in December back in 2019 and 2020. And as recently as January 2022, the Boston area had 3 feet of snow.

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Yet despite the big breakout storms here and there, the past few years still have not featured the kind of consistent snow and cold that was experienced earlier this century.

With all the precipitation, cloud cover was also a dominant feature of the past month. The chart below shows cloudy and clear days and everything in between. When you see the light blue color going from zero all the way up to 25, that’s an indication of no cloud cover.

Notice, too, the tail end of January was certainly void of any sunshine.

The end of January was particularly cloudy with no sunny days.NOAA data

The winter as a whole is going to end up above average in terms of temperature and precipitation.

Even if we didn’t see a drop of rain or snow in February, which won’t happen, we would still end up wetter than average for winter 2023-24.

And looking ahead to what we can expect over the next month, even if we end up with eventually cooler days, there’s almost no way we’re going to overcome the already warmer-than-average December and January that we’ve had.

For those of you who like prolonged cold and snow the next six weeks can still provide powerful winter weather but with each passing day, the odds of it occurring are decreasing.