The 8.6 inches recorded officially for Philadelphia* yesterday not only set a record for the date -- breaking the old standard of 5.3 set in 1989 -- it ranks among the elite for early-season snowfalls.
(We add the * to remind our readers that Philadelphia's snow actually is measured in National Park, Gloucester County, right across from the airport.)
Since snowfall recordkeeping began in Philadelphia with the winter of 1883-1884, this was the fourth-biggest snow before Dec. 10, and the heftiest in 60 years.
No. 1 on the list is the 9.8 inches measured on Dec. 6-7-8, 1910; 9.2 on Nov. 26-27, 1898, and 8.8., Nov. 6-7, 1953.
Heavy snows this early are unusual, in part because most of the big ones are generated by coastal storms, and ocean temperatures still tend to be in the mid-40s in December.
Still, they do happen occasionally, and if the forecasts are right this time, we could see another decent snowfall tomorrow. The latest National Weather Service briefing package warns of an event that could affect both the morning and late-day commuting periods.
What this may mean for the rest of the winter obviously isn't clear, but we will hold out throw one bone of optimism for those rooting for a mild turn.
In the aforementioned 1989, the 3.5 inches of Dec. 8 followed a Thanksgiving snowstorm and was part of one of the coldest Decembers on record.
The cold spell ended on New Year's Eve, and the subsequent January and February were among the warmer winter months on record.