Spring is just around the corner. In fact, it is only a few days away—March 20th to be exact. But you wouldn’t know it to look around. There are still remnants of snow piles here and there. Every morning holds sub-freezing temperatures in store for people with morning commutes. And, there is still snow in the 10 day forecast. But, did you know, that this winter was simultaneously one of the hottest and one of the coldest winter on record.
“The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the winter season was 31.3 degrees, one degree below the 20th-century average, marking the 34th coldest winter on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Thursday.
It was the coldest winter since 2009-10, which had an average temperature of 30.7 degrees.
Overall, this winter was both colder and drier than average, according to data released Thursday by NOAA.
This balance between the two regimes was the winter’s most notable feature, according to climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
Meteorologists define winter as the months of December, January and February. National U.S. weather records go back to 1895.
Seven states in the Midwest — Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin — were much colder than average and had a top 10 cold winter season. However, despite the chill, “no state had record cold,” Crouch noted. Some specific cities, however, such as Ironwood, Mich., and Eau Claire, Wis., endured their coldest winter ever. Duluth and International Falls, Minn., had their second-coldest.
The reason for the split weather pattern was a persistent ridge of high pressure over the western half of the USA, which was balanced by a trough of low pressure in the East, Crouch reported. High pressure usually brings clear skies, while low pressure brings clouds and precipitation.
In the West, California had its warmest winter on record. It had a statewide average winter temperature of 48 degrees, 4.4 degrees above average.
Despite heavy snow in some northern states and cities, the nation overall was much drier than average, mainly because of extremely dry conditions in the West and Southwest. Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas each had a top 10 dry winter season.”1
Hopefully, we are moving past all the cold weather in our area. Just one more storm to get through, and then it will all be over. But, let’s be honest, we have all been saying that since the beginning of February. As the equinox takes place on 4:57 pm on March 20, 2014, let’s hope that Persephone will bring warm temperatures as reemerges from the depths of Hades.
1.Rice, Doyle. “Numbing numbers: U.S. had coldest winter in 4 years.” www.usatoday.com. Gannett Company, 3/13/2014. 3/14/2014. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/03/13/usa-winter-weather-climate-report/6367757/>