At this time last year, the Merrimack Valley was deep in snow and it seemed as though every week brought another storm.
Local school officials kept an eye on the calendar as snow days mounted, the roofs of many school buildings had to be cleared of snow out of fear they would collapse and many communities had already exceeded their planned budget for snow plowing and removal. Everyone was just waiting for an end to winter.
Although it seems like spring has arrived, officials say, "don't count on it."
As of yesterday, Boston's snowfall total for this winter was just 7.6 inches. That's less than half the 20.8 inch average as of yesterday's date for the last 30 years. It pales in comparison to last winter, when by Jan. 25 Boston's snowfall total had reached 50.4 inches.
In all, a total of 81 inches fell last winter, or about twice the annual total snowfall average of 41.8 inches.
"Simply put, there has not been enough cold air when we have low-pressure systems to produce snowfall," said Bill Simpson, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Taunton.
Yesterday's forecast called for snow and sleet overnight followed by rain and patchy fog today with a high near 45, then clearing this evening with a low around 28. Tomorrow is expected to be sunny with a high near 41. Simpson said it is typical of what's been happening this winter.
As of Feb. 1 of last year, local school departments worried they would have to extend the school year deep into June. Both Methuen and North Andover public schools had logged four snow days while Haverhill had five on the books.
At this time last year, Haverhill's public works Director Michael Stankovich said one storm after another made it difficult for workers to catch up and forced them to alternate between plowing, sanding, salting and removing snow.
Drivers encountered intersections where the snow had piled so high they could barely see. A mountain of snow began to form at the DPW yard on Primrose Street as trucks unloaded what they had hauled away during cleanup operations. The mountain didn't completely melt until the middle of June.
Drivers traveling Route 213 in Methuen watched as a mountain of snow formed in the rear parking lot of the Loop. It grew to mammoth proportions.
"None of that is occurring this year, although we still have two more months left in the snow season," Stankovich said. "Typically February and March are very snowy months."
Haverhill spent about $2.2 million on snow plowing and associated operations last winter. The city has spent approximately $275,000 this year, Stankovich said.
"Because there has been less snow removal work this winter season, it has allowed the city work force to do more road repair work and tree trimming and removal work," he said.
Also, little snow means less wear and tear on road surfaces as well as on city trucks and equipment, he said.
Total snowfall as of yesterday: 7.6 inches for the Boston area.
Average total snowfall (30 years) as of Jan. 25: 20.8 inches.
Total snowfall by Jan. 25, 2011: 50.4 inches.
Annual average total snowfall for the last 30 years: 41.8 inches
Total snowfall for the winter of 2010-2011: 81 inches.
Latest snowfall: May 8-9, 1977. Boston received a half inch of snow. Worcester received about a foot.
Since 1892 there have been 10 years with less than 20 inches of total snowfall.
Least total snowfall: 9 inches for the winter of 1936-1937.
Second most least: 10.3 inches for the winter of 1972-1973.
Third least: 12.7 inches for the winter of 1979-1980.