Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Big Switcheroo!

Yes friends old man winter pulled a sneaky switcheroo on us this year. January and February seemingly switched positions. January was a warm month even by February standards with several daily highs broken, no snowfall and only a couple of days that dropped below the freezing mark. Kind of like February with wafts of spring. Then the real February showed up and within a few days it became clear the switcheroo was in play.

Although my average daily low temp for last month was still a bit warmer than an average for January it was close to spot on average for February. The average daily high last month was 3 degrees below my 17 season established "normal." The real switcheroo was the snowfall. I had a one inch dusting on the early am of Valentines Day that melted away in the afternoon and then some frisky cool air came in a few days later and I saw an inch on the 18th, a little dusting on the 19th and a bit of an on again off again 4 inch event on the 20th followed by two more days with an inch or more. 8.5 inches of snow in February is WAY above my 17 year average of 1.71 inches. In fact this is only the second February I have ever measured more than 6 inches for the month. 8.5 inches is second only to the crazy 11.1 plus we got back in February 2014.

I did have one daily record low on the 23rd when I awoke to a crisp 21.9 degrees. That was a record for me and for a number of areas around the metro. Early February has seen temps historically below zero with the record for the month at a Minnesota -3° back in 1950; but this late, the 23rd, 21.9° is legit chilly and it turned out to be the coldest temp of the month.

February seemed like a cold one with the above average snowfall, but the heavy cloud cover all month long actually kept things pretty warm, relatively speaking. Average low came in at 35.19° which is spot on my 17 year average and daily high average 46.69° well below my established norms. The warmest night was a toasty 47.8 on the 4th and the coldest daytime high was 33.8° on the 20th and it was accompanied by the 4 inches of snow. That day never had more than 3 inches on the ground as it snowed in two separate events about 2 inches in the morning, followed by mixed precip and some melt off, then another 2 inches later in the day. There were 8 days where the temperature managed to bust out over the top of 50° and we got close to a sixty when it was 58.8° on the 7th. We had seven days where the mercury could not push to 40° That turned out to be the week we had the snow and those low temps kept some snow on the ground for a week. The month ended with 9 days with a low below freezing and the aforementioned 7 days that failed to reach 40°

As for the precipitation it was cloudy but kind of dry really. Sure we had 8.5 inches of snow, but he water total in the bucket came in at only 2.07 inches and that is about a third of a typical February. We had 13 days with rain, 6 days with snow, but the wettest day was a paltry .36 inches. That was one of only three days to dump a 1/4 inch or more. We need more water down here and snow up there!

So March will once again be the wild card. Will it be an early spring or late winter? Today it is a bit of a tease as I am looking out the window to partly cloudy skies with peek-a-boo sunshine and a temp of 46.8° at 11:30am. Who knows, March can go either way. As it stands now this winter season is in a dead heat tie for 6th place on my annual snowfall chart with 2006-07 10.70 inches. Any amount of snow that falls before summer will knock 2006-07 into 7th. Over my 17 seasons of snowfall every February with 5 or more inches of snow has lead to a March with little or none. As it stands now I'd have to give the tie breaker to the 06-07 season as I had 19 days with measurable snow and a whopping 39 days with at least a trace of snow still on the ground. That crushes this season's totals of 9 days with measurable snow and 15 days with a trace or more on the ground. We only need a tickle to bump them, but it's just a silly snow chart, right?

Soak it up my friends, soak it up.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Toasty Warm January, Kind of

What a month, we started off average enough with New Year's day delivering a 29.3° low on its way up to a rather typical 45.7°. The 2nd was pretty average as well with a chilly but seasonal 28 in the morning and rather January-like 41.7° high. The average start belied what lurked beneath the surface of this January that felt more like Northern California than SW Washington.

This month delivered 13 days with low temps above 40° and 10 afternoons that played in the fifties. But fifties were not all this month had on its mind, I pulled a 60.1° day under the warm rays of 'El Sol'. That 60.1° mark came on the 14th and was the warmest January 14th on record for me. Other areas around the metro picked up daily records as well. I had four personal daily record highs since my records began in 2002. The entire metro area had multiple daily high records last month. I broke 17 year dailies on the 6th with 49.8°, the 11th with 54.3°, the 13th with 58.8°, and the 14th with 60.1°. I got close to a record on the 28th when I hit 58.8 again falling short of the 59.5 best from a decade ago.

The warmest overnight low came on the 12th when we barely dropped under 50 with 47.3° evening. The coldest day was a rather normalish, 28° on the 2nd. We managed to get above 40° every single day last month. The chilliest day was the aforementioned Jan 2nd with a 41.7° high. Just three days dropped below freezing.

One might think that all that warm weather was accompanied by the 'Pineapple Express' rainfall. Yet no there wasn't any such express event. La NiƱa remained in control and rainfall at my house was well under my 17 year average, but not particularly "dry". 4.74 inches hit the bucket against an "normal" mark of 7.05 inches. The wettest day was the 24th with 0.61 inches and I recorded 6 days with a 1/4 inch or more. It was a mostly cloudy month, which is also typical for January. I had just a single sunny day with about 3 more partly sunny.

The real stat is the monthly average low of 39.01° which is a whopping 5° above my 17 year average. The daytime highs came in well above as well with a 48.88° about 4 degrees warmer than average.

So what of all this January warmth? Are we headed for an early spring? Or is winter prepping for a late run int he 4th quarter? You never really know about these matters. February 2014 was cold and snowy as was March of 2012. If the warmish weather continues past Valentines Day the odds of any severe winter weather begin to rapidly increase. As for that stupid groundhog, he's in Pennsylvania and we are in Washington. They are having a cold winter, we are having a mild one. Perhaps we are going to switch that around, or maybe we stay put. It all plays out over the next 6 weeks, the second half of winter, begins now.