What happens when you get an unfavorable pattern for cold air across the Northern and Northeastern US? Well, besides a relative dearth of snow cover, you get warmth. Last winter's first half was among the coldest starts to winter in recent time -- and the coldest in a decade as we locked into a cold pattern in late November and held tight with the cold grip through much of December and January before the pattern switched out after the thundersnowstorm. This winter has featured a very opposite -- and warm pattern -- as upper level blocking in the high latitudes did not establish itself in the same way.
We know there hasn't been much of a winter locally -- but to see the impact in how the high temperatures have broken down on a daily basis is rather telling. Through yesterday, last winter featured 43 days where the high temperature did not hit 40 degrees at the Airport. This winter, it's only happened 10 times. Last winter, we only hit 50 or higher on four occasions in the first two months of winter. This year, it's 29 occasions through yesterday and you can make today day #30 of 50+ during the cold season.
The last time we had this many mild to warm days in winter's first two months was in the winter of 2006-2007...when December and January combined for 32 days of 50 or warmer, which is a record for the Airport site (since 1940) and the second most on record behind 1931-1932 and its mark of 36 days. In 2007, we paid for it in February as the highest temperature we had in February was just 50 degrees and the monthly temperature departure was seven degrees colder than average in the coldest February we had in nearly three decades. There aren't indications of that type of cold on the horizon this year...although we should see things trend more 'typical' as we move through February of 2012.