Fourth warmest winter on record for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:54 PM GMT on March 08, 2012

Share this Blog
35
+

February is gone, and the non-winter of 2011 - 2012 is the history books as the fourth warmest in U.S. history, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center yesterday. The winter average temperature of 36.8°F was just 0.4°F cooler than the warmest winter on record, the winter of 1999 - 2000. If you lived in the Northern Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast, it seemed like winter never really arrived this year--27 states in this region had top-ten warmest winters. Across the U.S., only New Mexico (41st coolest) and Alaska (35th coolest) had winter temperatures colder than average. According to NOAA's Climate Extremes Index, the percent area of the U.S. experiencing extremes in warm maximum temperatures (top 10% on record) was 49 percent--the 4th highest value since the index began being computed in 1911. Jackson, Kentucky, Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey all had their warmest winter on record.


Figure 1. Contiguous U.S. temperature rankings for the winter of 2011 - 2012 (the months of December - January - February.) The 117-year period of record begins in 1895, and each state is given a ranking based on how cold this winter was, relative to the other 116 years. Thus, a ranking of 116 means it was the 2nd warmest winter on record. Image credit: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.


Figure 2. Contiguous U.S. temperatures for winter (the months of December - January - February), from 1895 - 2012. The winter of 2011 - 2012 was the 4th warmest winter on record, behind 2000, 1999, and 1992. Winter temperatures have increased by abot 1.7°F per century (red linear trend line.) Image credit: National Climatic Data Center.

Third least snowy winter on record for the contiguous U.S.
Warm and dry conditions during the winter of 2011 - 2012 led to snow cover extent that was the 3rd lowest in the 46-year satellite record, according to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. Snowfall was particularly low across parts of the West, where much of California, Nevada, and Arizona had a snowpack less than half of average. Fortunately, the West had a near-record snowpack the previous winter, so this year's lack on snow will not cause serious water availability problems during the summer. In the Upper Midwest, the lack of a winter snowpack will substantially reduce the chances of spring flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. NOAA issues their annual spring flood outlook on March 15, and it is likely to show a much lower risk of flooding compared to last year, when 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods hit much of the Missouri and Lower Mississippi rivers. However, the remarkably low snow cover this winter over the Upper Midwest will allow soils to dry out much more quickly than usual, leading to increased chances of summer drought. The latest Drought Monitor map shows moderate to severe drought covering nearly all of Minnesota and Northwest Iowa; these regions are at high risk of suffering damaging drought conditions during the summer growing season.


Figure 3. State-by-state rankings of precipitation for the winter of 2011 - 2012. Four Western states had a top-ten driest winters on record, and Kansas had a top-ten wettest winter. Drought-stricken Texas, which entered the winter expecting drier than average conditions, since it was a La Niña year, lucked out, getting an unusually wet winter. Records go back to 1895. Image credit: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

A very mild winter for the Midwest
If you live in the Midwest, you saved a bundle this winter on heating and snow removal costs. In Minneapolis, where the low temperature falls below 0°F an average of 30 days each year, the temperature fell below zero on just two days. These days were January 18 and 19, when the low hit -1°F and -11°F, respectively. Since record keeping began in 1891, only one other winter has had so few below-zero days--the winter of 2001 - 2002. Third place is held by the winter of 1930 - 1931, with six below-zero days. Minneapolis has seen half of its usual snowfall this winter--just 22.1" as of March 7, which is 22.1" below the average of 44.2". The least snowy winter for Minneapolis occurred in the winter of 1930 - 1931, when just 14.2" of snow fell on the city.

Chicago has also seen far less snow than usual--just 19.8" as of March 7, 11.8" below their average. In a normal winter, there are 13 days with sub-zero temperatures in Chicago. The coldest it got in Chicago this winter was a relatively balmy 5°F on January 19. This is just one degree cooler than the warmest winter low temperature ever recorded in the city, which is 6°F. Here is a list of the winters in Chicago that have had no sub-zero temperatures, with the coldest temperature of the winter shown in parentheses:

1930-31 (6°F)
1959-60 (6°F)
1905-06 (6°F)
2011-12 (5°F)
1982-83 (3°F)
1938-39 (2°F)
1955-56 (2°F)
1931-32 (1°F)
1881-82 (1°F)
1936-37 (1°F)

NCDC's Dr. Deke Arndt has a two-minute video discussing the reasons for this year's warm winter. The primary factor was the position of the jet stream, which lay much farther north than usual.

I'll be back Monday at the latest with a new post.

Jeff Masters

Mild Winter (26mileman)
With mild temps people are out riding their bikes.
Mild Winter
March 6-7 aurora in Palmer Alaska (alaskario)
(c) Rebecca Oprish Photography. If you share this picture anywhere, please be sure to credit the photographer.
March 6-7 aurora in Palmer Alaska
A Little Light... (ceocrocker)
Amazing what sunlight, river debris and a little skim of ice can produce!
A Little Light...

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Sign In or Register Sign In or Register

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 321 - 271

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17Blog Index

YEAH BOY!!

third time in row that i have a 72 hour weekend :D

how? do my friday work on thursday! :D
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4511
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Up to 74.0 dBZ...This is one of the most intense storms I've seen in a long time.


It's imperssive! It got isolation in it's favor, yet, it has diurnal against it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
319. flsky
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Next to quote there is a Ignore User button. Ow the irony if its me ur putting on ignore.

Not even. It's some of the other (perhaps younger ones) who want to talk mostly about their homework. Thanks for the info.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:

Seemed to have some amount of trouble communicating from my mouse to the computer about 3pm today.
Things will not be affected at that small of a level.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
317. flsky
Quoting Chicklit:
Did anyone else have cell phone trouble today?
I was wondering if it was due to the recent solar flare.
By the way, Internet Outages from Solar Flares Could Force People to Interact with Other People, Officials Warn

Seemed to have some amount of trouble communicating from my mouse to the computer about 3pm today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:
Would someone remind me please how I go about ignoring a (some) poster(s)? I put some on "hide" but they keep popping back up. Thanks in advance.
Next to quote there is a Ignore User button. Ow the irony if its me ur putting on ignore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
314. flsky
Would someone remind me please how I go about ignoring a (some) poster(s)? I put some on "hide" but they keep popping back up. Thanks in advance.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
Did anyone else have cell phone trouble today?
I was wondering if it was due to the recent solar flare.
By the way, Internet Outages from Solar Flares Could Force People to Interact with Other People, Officials Warn
Lol I just realised how funny your link heading is.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
Did anyone else have cell phone trouble today?
I was wondering if it was due to the recent solar flare.
By the way, Internet Outages from Solar Flares Could Force People to Interact with Other People, Officials Warn
Was not getting Emails from blackberry & had no AT&T service at about noon. That may be cause AT&T's coverage sucks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I must also note that LANGUAGE ARTS IS LAME!!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4511
Did anyone else have cell phone trouble today?
I was wondering if it was due to the recent solar flare.
By the way, Internet Outages from Solar Flares Could Force People to Interact with Other People, Officials Warn
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Look at this thing.


(Click image to enlarge)

The above image is Hail detection, by the way.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34481
Man, the orchestra can play some good music!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4511
Quoting nigel20:
Good night guys

night night nigel!
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4511
Good night guys
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009
Up to 74.0 dBZ...This is one of the most intense storms I've seen in a long time.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34481
This is a monster rain and hail producer in Southern Texas. It has even showed small signs of rotation at times.

73.0 dBZ

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34481
Quoting nigel20:

I see this taking place over and over...it's like they(the teachers) are trying to spite us
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Lol, I get bored sometimes. I won't do it anymore. :P


Every now and then we all act like anchors from 24 hours news networks. :P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59575
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59575
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Man sometimes I think my teachers are like this...

I see this taking place over and over...it's like they(the teachers) are trying to spite us
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009
Quoting Chapelhill:
I think you could do a good job at that, but I would like to see you take a more conservertive role in your posts about severe weather. Models are poor at forecasting severe weather events, and your prior posts have a history of hyping events well before they don't occur.

Lol, I get bored sometimes. I won't do it anymore. :P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34481
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


FIRING UP AGAIN
DOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Xyrus2000:


That can happen (though it is rare, and never stable). But the approach and speed are all wrong for a capture. It's trajectory will be significantly affected but it won't be captured.

It takes a very specific set of circumstances for some random space object to get caught into a stable orbit around another massive body.

Thanks for your input
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009


FIRING UP AGAIN
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59575
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
The 1959-1960 winter in Chicago was mild but March wasn't. It got down to 0 on March 5 and March 6. The temperature stayed below freezing every day until March 15 when it poked up to 33. Then it stayed below freezing again until March 19. It also stayed below freezing on March 23, 24, and 25. The temperature did not hit 40 until March 27th.

Link.

Thanks for the info
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CORPUS CHRISTI TX
817 PM CST THU MAR 8 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CORPUS CHRISTI HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL WEBB COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS

* UNTIL 915 PM CST

* AT 815 PM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL.
THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR BOTINES...OR 17 MILES SOUTH OF
ENCINAL...AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 20 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
RANCHITOS LAS LOMAS...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING LARGE DAMAGING HAIL. SEEK
SHELTER NOW INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS!
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 302
Quoting Xyrus2000:


This is probably the worst fake so far. The sound dynamics aren't even close to the background noise. Even the 'tubers know it's fake. :P

Lol the sounds are from a game called Crysis.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nigel20:

Do you think that it could get close enough and get caught in the gravitational field?


That can happen (though it is rare, and never stable). But the approach and speed are all wrong for a capture. It's trajectory will be significantly affected but it won't be captured.

It takes a very specific set of circumstances for some random space object to get caught into a stable orbit around another massive body.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The 1959-1960 winter in Chicago was mild but March wasn't. It got down to 0 on March 5 and March 6. The temperature stayed below freezing every day until March 15 when it poked up to 33. Then it stayed below freezing again until March 19. It also stayed below freezing on March 23, 24, and 25. The temperature did not hit 40 until March 27th.

Link.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
This is worth checking out. VERY strange screaming noise coming from the sky at Venice beach, Florida...Link


This is probably the worst fake so far. The sound dynamics aren't even close to the background noise. Even the 'tubers know it's fake. :P

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well just finished running the kids to bed and doing the stick'in dishes.I decided to let the nanny go home early today since I had to go to a doctors oppointment earlier.Now I'm about to start working out since I indulged myself with around 4 oreo cookies.Can't let my figure go to waste now.BTW today was beautiful.70 and windy.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 19585
Quoting hydrus:
Texas does need rain. So there is a good side.
Hope they get a Flood Northwest of Austin where Lake Travis is down 43 feet below Normal.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
286. txjac
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Severe Storms developed around Cotulla where Cold Front met temps in 90s today. Front came thru here dry.


Did you ever catch up on any of your rain from last year boho?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Severe Storms developed around Cotulla where Cold Front met temps in 90s today. Front came thru here dry.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
284. txjac
Quoting jamesrainier:


Okay then ...looks like it might be on its way?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 302
282. txjac
Quoting entrelac:
I'm in Austin, TX thinking, "where is the rain?!".


We're not hogging it here in Houston ...wondering where it is myself
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Severe T'Storm warnings for South Texas

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
It is amazing to think that those black spots are 3 times larger than the earth.

Really amazing!
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009
.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009
I'm in Austin, TX thinking, "where is the rain?!".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Get more details at http://kamala.cod.edu/svr/
SVR T-STORM WARNING HOUSTON/GALVESTON TX - KHGX 745 PM CST THU MAR 8 2012
FLASH FLOOD WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 745 PM CST THU MAR 8 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX - KEWX 744 PM CST THU MAR 8 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING CORPUS CHRISTI TX - KCRP 740 PM CST THU MAR 8 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 723 PM CST THU MAR 8 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 302
276. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Quoting MAweatherboy1:


I think so... I don't think they have boy names in the Southern Hemisphere (Jsamine, Giovanna, Irina)


The RSMC for the southern hemisphere except Jakarta do have boy/girl name lists.

Jakarta naming list is based on mythology as far as I remember.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I think so... I don't think they have boy names in the Southern Hemisphere (Jsamine, Giovanna, Irina)

You may be right...I wasn't taking notice that they were all female names
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 9009
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Lol, I do tropical weather blogs...for the Atlantic and East Pacific.

It's not hurricane season yet. :)

I think I'll start a Severe Weather blog and see how good I am at that.
I think you could do a good job at that, but I would like to see you take a more conservertive role in your posts about severe weather. Models are poor at forecasting severe weather events, and your prior posts have a history of hyping events well before they don't occur.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
be back l8r
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4511
Man sometimes I think my teachers are like this...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
link for larger map http://synoptic.envsci.rutgers.edu/site/radimg/an im_nrc.gif

Something firing up in south Texas.


Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 302

Viewing: 321 - 271

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Gust front cloud, SE Michigan
Thunderstorm over Grand Teton
Double rainbow over Old Faithful
Rainbow in Riverside Geyser