Weather observations from Lago Mar, "Gateway to The Outer Banks of Virginia" in the Sandbridge area of Princess Anne in southeast Virginia Beach, VA.
By: LagoMar , 5:13 AM GMT on February 04, 2014
On the morning of January 30, the weather station at Oceana NAS (KNTU) reported a low temperature of -1F (one degree below zero farenheit). MADIS (NOAA) analyzed the low temperature at Oceana to be 9F that night. The coldest station within a 5 mile radius of Oceana was 7, and the highest 13. It seems VERY obvious that something went VERY wrong with the weather station at Oceana.
There are dozens of NOAA supported weather stations and other Personal Weather Stations in the area. The closest any other thermometer in a 5 mile radius of Oceana came to Oceana's reading was 7F (8 degrees higher). Within a 20 mile radius the closest was 4F. While those are extremely cold temperatures, if the closest measurement to MY thermometer within a 20 mile radius is 5 degrees difference, it is time for me to start looking for a new thermometer... pronto! The sandy soil and terrain can not account for differences of that magnitute. Our terrain does not vary much here. Elevation runs from sea level to 20 ft or so.
Let's look at the other end of the scale. If my thermometer says 87 and all stations within a 5 mile radius say it is 74-79 (same range we are talking about in the Oceana case), is there anyone who would really believe it is actually 87 at my house? It was an errant reading. Poor citing? Absolutely! But this was more than a citing issue in this case. Faulty equipment or errant reporting may also be to blame.
While human error can and does certainly happen, one thing that never lies is a plant. Every plant has a level of hardiness: a minimum temperature that it will withstand without damage or even death. At -1F, the damage to plant life in the Oceana area would be catastrophic! Sabal Palmettos, many broadleaf evergreens such as camellia, gardenia, fatsia japonica, japanese aucuba and dozens of other species would have taken major hits! However, each of these plants can be found growing in the Oceana area today with very little if any signs of winter stress. The plants say that the temperature was closer to the 9F that MADIS estimated vs the erroneous "official" report. MADIS rewarded KNTU with an extremely rare "thumbs down" on it's rating for the three day period including that particular night.
It is the meteorological equivilent of Major League Baseball's steroid years. Funny looking numbers that deserve an asterisk in record books. Statistics that are completely ignored by baseball Hall of Fame voters as if they never happened. In this case, due to the extreme nature of the error, it is a shame that record books will declare for all time that the low temperature in Virginia Beach on January 30th, 2014 was -1F. This will throw off all record keeping, and may even affect future climate zone maps, which affects the type of plants available to gardeners in the area. Only those of us who keep an eye out for such anomalies will know the truth. More proof that you can statistically "prove" whatever you wish to, if you find the right statistics!
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