Monday, March 05, 2012

The Fail Of Winter Part Two -- Final Numbers

Continuing our series on winter's fail for cold and snow lovers -- the ugly numbers of reality.   Last night's post highlighted the pattern that set up that contributed to an ugly reality the US and I will have more data on the winter period on a national perspective in the next couple of days.  However, we're going to keep it local for now and focus on the Delaware Valley.

Most of us know already that Philadelphia had its fourth warmest meteorological winter (December-February) since official climate records were first kept in 1872, but that was just one site.   For everyone in the Delaware Valley, it was a top five warmest winter...and for two locations, record warm winters did result.

Regarding the local major climate sites, the climate record goes back to before the 1931-32 winter that is the gold standard in Philadelphia for warmth.   Winter temperatures for that three month period topped out at an amazingly warm 43.4 degrees or 2.7 above what Philadelphia topped out at this winter.  One caveat to the '31-'32 winter was that temperature observations in that time were still taken in Center City and not at the Airport, which accounts for a minor bump in temperatures due to the urban heat island impact (which didn't exist on the same level in the Airport's vicinity in the '30's as it does now).  '31-'32 probably would still be a record holder even if temperatures in those days were taken at the current Airport site but that record probably wouldn't be as warm.   Still though, a top four warm winter in Philly was nothing to sneeze at and is a pretty impressive accomplishment.

Around the region, record warm winters were set at Trenton (40.5 degrees) and at Mount Pocono (31.2 degrees), besting their old record warm winters by 0.2 degrees and 0.8 degrees, respectively.  The prior record in both locations was the '31-'32 winter, as a point of comparison.

In terms of snowfall, since we're still in the measurable snow season posting a final "postmortem" on snow is still a month away or so.  However, the snowy reality isn't that there has been much of it.   Allentown has picked up 12.0" of snow winter-to-date, Atlantic City has picked up 4.3", and Philadelphia 4.0".  In terms of comparisons for Philadelphia, this winter's total is the same as that of the 2001-02 winter so far.  We might be able to coax another snowfall out of the winter -- fickle winters that don't bring much snow in December-February sometimes can yield a bit more snow in March.  However, snowfall potential decreases quickly as one progresses through the month and as we march towards April (you can still get rogue snows into April but "big" snowfall becomes very, very tough to pull off).