Thursday, March 08, 2012

Fail Of Winter On A National Level

Yesterday was the release of the "official" NOAA winter data set for the US for December, January, and February.   Nationally, the three month period was the fourth warmest on record with an average temperature of 36.8 degrees for the lower 48.   Only 2000, 1999, and 1992 were warmer years nationally.

Nationally, the warmth was most significant to average across the Northeast and Northern Plains, where temperatures averaged as much as eight to ten degrees above average. The only places with any modicum of cool weather this past winter were in the Southwest and West -- and even there temperature departures were minor (no more than a couple of degrees).  It wasn't a record warm winter in any of the states but it did come darn close in a number of places -- it was second warmest for much of the Northeast and a top five warmest winter for every state north of the Mason-Dixon line in the Northeast, as well as Delaware.

Not only was the winter warm, it was pretty dry as well, averaging over three-quarters of an inch of rain below average nationally.   The predominant storm track across the US was generally across the Plains through Great Lakes or through the Ohio Valley, with the West dry and Southeast dry.   Philadelphia averaged about an inch of precipitation below average as well.  The good news was that Texas picked up significant rainfall, allowing them to dampen some of the drought issues that have plagued the Lone Star State since 2010.

The dry and warm winter also impacted national snow cover, with the Rutgers Global Snow Lab reporting that national snow cover ran about 87% of the 1981-2010 average in February, with this past month the first February since 2006 where the country had below average snow cover in February.

For most everyone in the Lower 48, winter was a collective yawn.