Just a week and a half ago, snow from a history-making winter storm blanketed the East Coast from northern Georgia to Massachusetts in a swath of white that could be seen from space. Now, that snow is a ghost of its former self, with only meager remnants melting fast under sunny skies and balmier temperatures.

Call it the Great Melt of 2016, perhaps best seen in a animated GIF of daily snow depths. Now you see snow, now you don’t!

Snow melt gif

Look at that snow melt!


While the change is a pretty stark one — especially for those who were digging cars out from under 2 feet of snow just a few days ago — the lifetime of this snowpack was actually “pretty good” by East Coast standards, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md.

It’s difficult to maintain a snowpack in the eastern parts of the country, Oravec said, with weather than can shift quickly. It is especially so in major cities, where there’s more activity to trample it.

The melt over the last week has been fueled by warmer weather ushered in by a change in the flow of the atmosphere over the U.S. Typically, when one half of the country is cold and snowy, the other half is warm and dry. During the snowstorm, it was warm in the West and cold in the East; now it is the reverse.

Next week, though, will see a switch once again. First, more typical winter temperatures return to the East and then a distinct chill sets in.

“The weather pattern actually looks pretty cold” from the upper Midwest to the Northeast, Oravec said.

But before that happens, the snow will likely see a big retreat as the warmest temperatures of the week are accompanied by heavy rains on Wednesday. That’s a recipe for slushy streets awash in the debris that became lodged in the snows.

Soon, the great mounds left by shovel and plow will be the only signs of what seemed like never-ending snow.