Wacky winter playing out differently across the US

The lack of snow on the East Coast has hurt business, especially for those who rely on money by offering snow removal services.
Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 17, 2023

This winter has been a tale of two coasts. 

The west coast has been pounded by snow. Palisades Tahoe in Northern California averages 400 inches of snow per year but it has received more than 650 inches in the 2022/2023 season.

On the East Coast, however, it is a completely different story. New York City did not see its first snowfall of the season until Feb. 1. Philadelphia and Baltimore have recorded less than a half inch of snow this season.

Light snowfall has meant the worst business in years for people like Jonathan Pensak.

“I definitely have a lot on my shoulders,” said Pensak, who owns TLK Landscaping in Baltimore. “If it’s not snowing, there’s no work to do. We do have employees that have families at home and I have to give them loans just to help them stay afloat.”


A pedestrian walks with an umbrella as motorists drive through rain along the 110 Freeway in Hollywood.

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Across the East Coast, seven states have had one of their two warmest winters in history. The average temperature of the entire Northeast was five degrees higher than normal this time of year. 

“Everyone makes the joke [that] you ski on ice out here [on the East Coast]. This year, it’s basically skiing on mud and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” said Cesar Cornejo, meteorologist at Scripps News Baltimore.

The warmth has also affected other businesses such as plumbers, whose winter months are usually filled dealing with broken pipes, as well as hardware stores and auto shops.

“There are a lot of things going on and part of that is the La Nina winter still holding on,” said Cornejo. “This is the third year we’re going into it and as we’re slowly phasing out into an ENSO-neutral, basically no La Niña or El Niño, we’re kind of stuck in that situation where the jet stream is right over top of the Appalachians and it hasn’t really shifted.”

In layman’s terms, the ENSO-neutral phase means the same pattern that has caused warmth in the east and the perilous snow in the west could likely persist through the last of winter before Spring comes around, making it difficult for businesses like Pensak’s to make up for lost time.

“Out of 100% of what we were anticipating [in terms of business], we’re probably at 10-15% of what has come through,” said Pensak.

Snow falls at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

How is winter changing?

A warmer winter is preventing ice from forming on the Great Lakes, which have steadily lost ice cover since the 1970s.