Cold snaps two-year streak

If the cold this week has felt particularly biting, it hasn't been just the temperature and the wind-chill factors. We aren't used to this.

Before the chill settled across the region on Monday, temperatures had been below normal on only three days in Philadelphia since Dec. 1. 

Despite yesterday's low of 12 -- the coldest reading since Jan. 24,, 2011 -- temperatures for the month were averaging 4.4 degrees above normal, and the winter of 2012-13 almost certainly will end up in the above-normal category.

And it's not just the recent warmth.

By day's end, the region will have experienced its first cold spell of the season -- defined by cliimate maven Mark DeLisi at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly as three consecutive days of temperatures no higher than 35.

The last such spell, coincidentally, ended on Jan. 24, 2011, so it will have been 731 days between the snaps.

In the period of temperature records dating to 1874, Philadelphia has had only eight winters without cold spells.

But while this particular cold lull has been noteworthy, it is nowhere near a record.

The most-impressive cold-less streak remains the period from Dec. 28, 1989, near the end of an amazingly cold month, to Feb. 26, 1993 -- that's 1,157 days.

The winters of 1990-91 and '91-'92 were the only consecutive winters without a single cold spell.

Meanwhile, the two-season snow deprivation goes on. The 1.4 inches that happened to land at the National Park/Philadelphia International Airport station on Monday night became far and away the heftiest snow of the season, upping the overall total to 2.5.

Earlier in the week, the snow tom-toms were pounding out a major storm for Friday, but that's all but off the table.

The current official forecast mentions 2 to 3 inches late tomorrow and tomorrow night of bone-dry, fluffly snow, but we'd be surprised if that total doesn't get trimmed back by day's end.

A warm-up is due next week, followed by an another Arctic invasioin.