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The lack of snow this winter in Boston is quite remarkable, experts say

A woman jogged in Boston on Jan. 15. The amount of snow — or lack thereof — that the Boston area has seen thus far has been quite remarkable, officials say.
A woman jogged in Boston on Jan. 15. The amount of snow — or lack thereof — that the Boston area has seen thus far has been quite remarkable, officials say. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Where’s all the snow?

That’s a question on the minds of many Bostonians this winter, but one that few like to talk about out loud, lest they jinx the weather gods into summoning a blizzard.

But in all seriousness, the amount of snow — or lack thereof — that the Boston area has seen thus far has been quite remarkable, according to officials at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Milton.

Weather observers at Blue Hill recorded only one-tenth of an inch of snowfall in December 2018, making it one of the lowest December totals on record.

Max Vido, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said as of Wednesday only two-tenths of an inch of snowfall had been measured at Logan International Airport in Boston since the start of the snow season.

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“That’s the lowest on record,” Vido said, citing snowfall records that date back to 1936. “It’s an impressive feat.”

But that is about to change.

After a sluggish start to winter, snow is on the way.

“We do have some snow events coming up this week,” Vido said.

Ben Turner, a full-time weather observer at Blue Hill Observatory, attributed the recent lack of snow to the pressure pattern.

“Most of the precipitation was just missing us to our south,” he said.

That high-pressure pattern had been driving the precipitation farther south, away from New England, and from there it moved out to sea.

“It’s also due to milder temperatures,” Turner said.

Weather observers at Blue Hill noted that December was warmer and drier than average, with very little snowfall and plenty of sunshine.

“If we did have any possibility of snow, the majority of it came down as rain because the overall lows were higher than normal,” Turner said.

Lowest December Snowfall, in inches (1885-2018) as recorded by the Blue Hill Observatory

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Trace in 1899

Trace in 1953

Trace in 1999

Trace in 2011

0.1 in 1943

0.1 in 2018

0.2 in 1936

0.2 in 1957

But the snow drought we’ve been experiencing is about to come to an end.

“It is changing, for sure,” Turner said. “After a slow start to the winter, we should be reaching normal or higher than normal snow amounts.”

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say there’s a chance of snow Thursday night, but it shouldn’t amount to much in Boston. Less than an inch of accumulation is expected in the city.

Vido said “a significant snow event” is in the forecast for Saturday night into Sunday, which could bring several inches of snow to the Boston area. Forecasters were predicting at least 2 to 4 inches of snow in Boston and higher amounts to the north and west of the city.

The storm will be followed by a rapid freeze, which could result in icy conditions.

“Temperatures are really expected to plummet Sunday night,” Vido said.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be mostly sunny and brutally cold, with highs around 15 degrees and wind gusts up to 26 miles per hour.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued a statement reminding the public to keep an eye on the weather.

“Forecasters are predicting winter weather at times throughout the holiday period, and the public should monitor conditions if they will be heading out onto the roadways,” Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said in the statement.

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Pollack also noted that RMV service locations will be closed Monday, and MBTA subway and bus service and The RIDE will operate on a Saturday schedule.

“Our snow and ice crews are monitoring weather forecasts and will be activated in the coming days and throughout the weekend as conditions necessitate,” Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said in the statement. “People should make smart decisions before traveling to their destinations by checking weather conditions, using traffic resources such as www.mass511.com, recognizing service impacts due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and choosing the best route, mode and time to travel.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.