When I got to KARE-11 (then WTCN) a "big winter storm" meant 6-12 inches. My first winter, '83-84, a record 98.6" fell. I remember having a "what have I gotten myself into?" moment. Since then our winter snows have become more erratic; milder temperatures (especially at night) leading to more melting. No guarantees of snow cover all winter long. More midwinter rain/ice. In short, it's now hit or miss.
In this fickle winter environment an inch or two has become reason to lead the news; today's 2-4 inches becomes a "storm".
We had a word for days like this back in the early 80s.
Another big contributing factor: traffic, which has nearly doubled in 30 years. It takes less snow/ice to cripple your commute. This morning's powdery snow, falling at 20-23 F, may compress into a smear of slush, which will quickly refreeze into glaze ice.
It could be worse: 8" for Chicago, maybe 16" at Kansas City. We're just getting a taste.
After a quiet weekend we thaw out a little next week; Tuesday's storm probably tracks east of Minnesota. No more subzero lows are in sight into early March.
This evening on TPT "Almanac" I talk about 2013: easing drought, but more severe storms.
Photo credit above: "Jason Rushford and Anna Balthazor make a snow creature in Wichita, Kan., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Kansas was the epicenter of a winter storm, with parts of the state buried under 14 inches of powdery snow, but winter storm warnings stretched from eastern Colorado through Illinois." (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Mike Hutmacher).
Chilly Into First Week of March. The NAEFS experimental long range temperature forecast (first week of March) shows a warming trend across much of Canada, but cooler than average temperatures from the Midwest to Florida. No early spring this year.
Graphic credit above: "Arctic sea ice volume in thousands of cubic kilometers during the September minimum in 1979 compared to 2012, as estimated by the University of Washington PIOMAS model. Arctic seas ice volume has declined by more than a factor of five. Image credit; Andy Lee Robinson."
Photo credit above: "Thousands of protestors gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, as well as act to limit carbon pollution from power plants and 'move beyond' coal and natural gas, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013." (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta).