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We Were Supposed To Get 50 Inches Of Snow — So What Happened, Winter?

By Kelly Bauer | January 16, 2017 12:52pm | Updated on January 17, 2017 8:27am
 So far, this winter has had only 18.1 inches of snow, and temperatures have been 1.1 degrees warmer than normal, said AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines.
So far, this winter has had only 18.1 inches of snow, and temperatures have been 1.1 degrees warmer than normal, said AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

DOWNTOWN — It was supposed to be a winter that could halt plows in their tracks and force even the iciest-blooded "true Chicagoan" to stay indoors.

There'd be 50 inches of snow and chilly temperatures throughout January and February, said the city and meteorologists.

The salt was stockpiled, the jackets bought. Last year's mild winter was mocked.

And then — it wasn't too bad.

So far, this winter has had only 18.1 inches of snow, and temperatures have been 1.1 degrees warmer than normal, said AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines.

While that's a bit more snow than usual — the city has typically seen just 14.6 inches by this point of the season — almost all of it came during one storm in the first half of December, Kines said.

More snow is expected to hit Chicago, though Kines said he didn't see any coming in the near future. Chicago sees an average of 36.6 inches of snow.

"I [have] got to believe that we'll get at least that if not more," Kines said. "Maybe we get ... at least another 20 inches to come our way yet."

The lack of snow is at least partially to blame on relatively nice weather, with temperatures 1.1 degrees warmer than normal (despite some snaps of extreme cold). That's not a "big deal" of difference, Kines said, but the warm weather means that when there has been precipitation it's often come down as rain or freezing rain instead of snow.

The city could get the chillier weather we were promised during the last half of January and beginning of February, Kines said, with temperatures falling below normal, which is around the freezing mark, "at least for a short time."

Expect to see thermometers dip to the 20s on those days, though Kines said he wasn't sure there'd be any more "really cold" weather.

Chicago has generally been on the "warm side" of storms all season, Kines said. Plus, Canada, which sends cold air south to Chicago, has also been warm.

"Even right now, even Canada isn't exceptionally cold right now," Kines said. "Until the cold air starts building in Canada it's not going to get exceptionally cold here."

Discrepancies between what's predicted and what happens aren't uncommon in meteorology. Meteorologists are asked to make predictions months in advance to help people prepare, and the weather doesn't always align with what's expected.

"Some of these storms have happened to take a track 100 miles farther south [than expected]. When you're predicting four, five months out into the future, if you're off by 100 miles on a storm track that's probably pretty good," Kines said.