Published December 13, 2013
While the official start to winter is still days away, Dec. 21, 2013, the cold, icy and snowy weather across most of the United States would indicate otherwise.
A series of storms this fall blanketed parts of the Northeast and Midwest in snow, ice-covered areas and knocked out power to thousands from Texas to Kentucky and bitter cold froze parts of the northern Plains.
Snow totals in some areas have already surpassed last season's totals. Philadelphia has already received 10.8 inches of snow this fall, 8.6 inches of that snow from last weekend's snowstorm. This means the city has received 2.5 inches of additional snow so far this season compared to all of last winter.
Lake-effect this week dumped several feet of snow on places in upstate New York. Redfield, N.Y., received 58 inches with Constableville, N.Y., hit with 56 inches of snow.
Although snowfall totals have been high around the country, a snowstorm predicted to impact more than 1,000 miles from St. Louis to Boston this weekend will only cause totals to climb even more.
Despite some significant snow totals for the autumn season, times of bitter cold also inhabited the nation breaking records in various cities.
On Dec. 11, 2013, Bismarck, N.D., broke the city's previous Dec. 11 record, set back in 1945 with a low temperature of 22 degrees below zero. For the month, the city is currently 13.3 degrees below its normal temperature.
In Chicago, the city's airport, Chicago O'Hare, sunk to 6 degrees below zero on Dec. 10, 2013, which hasn't happened since 2008.
Even farther south, Dallas failed to reach 40 degrees for five straight days. For the entirety of last winter, the city was only below 40 for two days.
See the chart below for some of the fall's record-breaking cold temperatures.
What does this mean for the real winter season?
A wintry fall season does not necessarily indicate a brutal winter, according to AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck.
However, the unusual autumn does have an explanation.
Through November, the cold built up becoming colder and colder until the first week of December. This cold build up was due to cold air masses coming down from the Yukon, moving northwesterly across Canada then crossing into the United States and attacking the northern Rockies and Plains.
The northern Rockies and Plains received the brunt of the cold, but then the frigid air masses were brought eastward. In the East, these masses then combined with warm moist air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico and, as a result, produced snow.
"The cold air masses have pushed everything south and east, the whole storm track," Smerbeck said.
As a result, snowstorms, ice storms and cold wreaked havoc across the Midwest, East and portions of the South.
While there have been no nor'easters thus far, the chance of one along with an increased opportunity of colder air and greater snowfall will only become higher as the nation enters its official winter season.