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Snowfall in Delaware well below normal this season

Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media

The possibility of snow is in the forecast — a rare sight in Delaware this winter, when snowfall has been far below what meteorologists consider “normal.”

The only official monitoring station for snow in the state is in the Wilmington area. So far this winter it has recorded only 0.9 inches of snow— the smallest amount there in the last decade, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Trent Davis. 

Davis says the “normal” amount of snow for Wilmington at this point in the season is 18.6 inches, an average calculated over thirty years. He says the record high for the Wilmington-area monitoring station at this point in the year was 72.7 inches of snow, over the 2009-2010 winter season. The record low was during the 1997-1998 season, when the monitoring station had recorded no snow by this point in the year.

Kevin Brinson, associate state climatologist and director of the Delaware Environmental Observing System at the University of Delaware, attributes the lack of snow this year to a strong jet stream — which he describes as a “conveyor belt” in the atmosphere that moves storm systems along.

“When you have a really strong jet stream in the winter, in our area— Delaware, Mid-Atlantic— we tend to have short, cold dry spells versus a long, cold dry period that locks in,” said Brinson. “You can’t have snow if you don’t have cold air.”

Brinson notes winter is not over — and Delaware still has time to log some more snow.He adds since the Wilmington-area station began collecting snow data in the 1940s, there have been only five years where Wilmington has gone without snow in March. 

“March itself is not exactly a snow-free month typically,” said Brinson. “So it’s not like we’re out of the woods here, if you will. It’s always possible we could get enough snow not to make 2019-2020 stand out too much. If it stays as it is, it would be pretty amazing.”

This weekend’s forecast calls for some snow Friday night into Saturday, but little or no accumulation. 


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