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Eye On Weather: Winter 2014 One Of Harshest In Years

By Eric Fisher, Chief Meteorologist, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Eric Fisher Eric Fisher
Eric Fisher is Chief Meteorologist for CBS Boston’s WBZ-TV News and...
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BOSTON (CBS) – While we only had to endure the 53rd coldest winter on record in Massachusetts, the Midwest received constant blows from the Arctic.

The persistent southward dips of the Polar Vortex helped fuel the top 10 coldest winters on record for several Midwest states.

The Great Lakes were no match for the frigid air, succumbing to ice which is standing strong even now! In early March the coverage reached 92.2-percent, the second highest ever recorded and most for so late in the season.

That means harsh reality for local wildlife. Environmental agencies throughout the Great Lakes are finding hundreds of dead waterfowl due to starvation, and their annual counts are coming up tens of thousands of birds short.

Humans felt the impact in a different way – their wallets. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports household heating cost increases of 54-percent for propane, 10-percent for natural gas, 7-percent for oil, and 5-percent for electricity compared to last winter.

Chicago was buried by its third snowiest season recorded in 130 years, while Philadelphia and Detroit were pounded by their second snowiest.

Instead of preparing for cherry blossoms, Washington D.C. was hit by more than a half-foot of snow on St. Patrick’s Day.

And here in southern New England, winter tested our patience at times.

Winter Storm Warning on the Mass. Pike. (Aaron Strader/WBZ)

Winter Storm Warning on the Mass. Pike. (Aaron Strader/WBZ)

March will take the cake for the biggest departure from average. It’s the fifth straight month of below-average temperatures for the first time in 11 years.

There were 42 days when Boston didn’t even climb above the freezing mark, producing a Charles River so icy that the Duck Boats delayed the start of their tours for the first time ever.

A run of snowstorms, the largest arriving the day after New Year’s, helped the entire region see well above-average snowfall.

(Photo credit EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

But it hasn’t all been about the cold.

In stark contrast, California saw its hottest winter ever recorded and it’s mired in a historic drought that shows very few signs of ending. We all feel their pain – massive quantities of the nation’s produce all hail from the Golden State.

Expect higher prices at the grocery checkout counter.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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