Residents of the midwestern and northeastern United States faced a brutal winter in 2010-2011. Highways skidded to an icy stop. Pipes froze. Stir-crazy families tested the watchable limits of their Netflix Unlimited Streaming accounts.
When meteorologists forecast another brutal winter for 2011-2012, a frost-tested U.S. public prepared for a full-blown snowman invasion. Even the 2012 Farmers' Almanac predicted "clime and punishment," complete with unseasonable chills and ice storms worthy of a George R.R. Martin novel [source: Weatherbee].
What happened? Where's the winter we were told to fear?
For starters, many regions of the Northern Hemisphere and some portions of the United States have experienced winter, if a slightly delayed one. A city in upstate New York is digging out from under a 32.5-inch (82.5-centimeter) snowfall as we write this in January 2012. Before the great snow though, residents of Fulton, N.Y., would probably tell you the winter had been meek. A seasonally rare snowstorm ripped through the Northeast around the middle of January. Parts of New Jersey reported up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) from said storm, according to CBS News.
Travel elsewhere on the globe and you'll also find a harder sell for your "year without winter" claims. As of Jan. 31, 2011, plummeting temperatures and heavy snows had killed 60 people across Eastern Europe [source: BBC].
Still, some parts of the United States feel a tad winterless in 2012 and, indeed, the season kicked off to a wimpy start. According to AccuWeather meteorologist Meghan Evans, the absence of atmospheric blocking patterns (along with the presence of La Niña and oscillation patterns) was partially to blame [source: National Weather Service].