The winter of 2014 to 2015 brought a particularly deep freeze to much of North America, making city workers and trucks with heavy duty snow plows work overtime everywhere above 37°N. And — with apologies to drought-suffering California — more precipitation than many cities and states’ angled snow pushers could handle.
A severe lake-effect winter storm in Buffalo dumped more than 88 inches of snow and ice on the Upstate New York City practically overnight, causing Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare a State of Emergency. Schools and businesses shut down for nearly a week, and pictures of a massive wall of snow encroaching on the city went viral the world over.
So if you’re baking in the summertime heat this year, here are some fast facts to make you grateful for the warmer temperatures. And if you remember the past winter the way Buffalo residents do, then you might even be grateful for the sweltering humidity, too.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “National Snow Analysis” report states that on March 1, 2015, an incredible 63% of the contiguous United States still had snow on the ground. Although not every city experienced massive blizzards the way Buffalo did, many states recorded much higher than average snowfall levels.
- When data analysis company IHS released their “Global Insight” study in 2014, they estimated that a one day “snow-related shutdown” (that’s a “snow day” to you and me) in New York City produced more than $700 million in economic losses, and $150 million in retail costs alone.
- In North America, billions of dollars are spent on the direct costs of slips and falls caused by winter ice.
- To the north, Canada spends more than $1 billion every winter on snow removal.
- In 2014, insurance companies paid out almost $2.3 billion because of winter storms.
To sum up: unless you really like being cold (or you work for angled snow pusher manufacturers), then you probably had a rough winter. If that doesn’t make you grateful for Barbecue Season, then you don’t deserve Barbecue Season. So the next time you feel like complaining about mosquitoes or sudden thunderstorms, just remember the winter of 2014 to 2015, and you’ll never take the sun for granted again.
Unless you live in California.