Whither winter?

Past the halfway mark, based on the government latest outlook, January 2012 is in the running to join elite company. 

You'll need to take a hard look at that forecast map to see a patch of blue on the Northwest coast, but most of the rest of the contiguous United States is basking in red. 

In Philadelphia, the official January snow total stands at 0.2 inches, and in the period of snow records dating to 1885, we've found only nine Januaries with total snowfall of an inch or less.

The forecast calls for a chance of snow showers Thursday night, with a threat of mixed precipitation changing to rain on the weekend. But that's about it; after that, a warm-up begins.

What about February and the rest of the winter?

In eight of the nine seasons with an inch or less of snow in January, it did snow eventually. The lone exception was 1973, the only winter without any measureable snow in Philadelphia.

Nothing was recorded officially in February 1998, after January's whopping 0.5 inches, but 0.1 was measured on March 22.

At the other end of the scale was 1896. An inch of snow was measured in January in Philadelphia, and 13.3 fell from February onward.

That was the only one of the nine in which the post-Feb. 1 snow was above normal.

In second place was 1995. After a snow-less January, 9.8 inches came during February 1995; 8.8 of that in one storm.

This is strictly a subjective observation, but this winter would be hard to match for lack of drama.

As Tony Gigi at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly points out, this has been a slow year even for those teaser virtual snowstorms that computer models love to erase.

We're still waiting for that first supermarket stampede.