Thursday, April 17, 2014

January1-March 31, 2014 Statewide Temperature, Precipitation Rankings

Headline:  January 1-March 31, 2014:  Has it been one of the coldest and wettest starts to a year?

The perception by many people is that this year to date is one of the coldest on record. 

And, with the numerous snowfalls to our east during this time period, many also assume that this must be one of our wettest starts for a year in the 120 year (1895-2014) U.S. data archives.

The following two maps
January 1-March 31, 2014 Statewide Temperature Rankings
January 1-March 31, 2014 Statewide Precipitation Rankings

illustrate that facts can be quite differenct from perceived reality. 

Text continues below the two maps.

While the Midwest, Great Lakes states down to the gulf and over across the Ohio River valley suffered through an unusually cold winter much of the western U.S. was warmer than normal.  In fact, California and Arizona had their warmest January 1-March 31 on record.

It is fascinating to look back over the first three months and to see how many snowstorms were featured on the national news reports yet the country as a whole averaged below normal precipitation. Note that none of the Great Lakes states had a wetter thna normal January 1-March 31 time period. The area of greatest concern right now is the region of the Plains and southwest that are top ten driest starts to the year.

The NOAA/NCDC highlights are listed below>>>>>>>>>>

  • For the first three months of 2014, below-average temperatures were widespread in the eastern U.S. Twelve states, from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast, had three-month temperatures that ranked among the 10 coldest on record. The largest cold departures from average occurred across the Great Lakes region due to persistently below-average daily temperatures. No state had its coldest January-March on record.
  • The West was warmer than average during January-March. Nevada, Oregon, and Utah each had one of their 10 warmest on record. Arizona and California were record warm for the period, with temperatures 5.2°F and 5.6°F above average, respectively.
  • Collectively during the year-to-date period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 34.4°F, 0.8°F below the 20th century average. This marked the 41st coldest January-March on record and the coldest since 1985.
  •  Alaska had its third warmest January-March on record, behind only those of 1981 and 2001, with an average temperature 6.3°F above the 1971-2000 average. 
  • January-March precipitation averaged across the contiguous U.S. was 5.90 inches, 1.06 inches below average, marking the 14th driest such period on record and driest since 2009.
  • The Central and Southern Plains and Southwest were much drier than average during the first quarter. Seven states, from Arizona to Missouri, had three-month precipitation totals ranking among the 10 driest on record. The northern Rockies and Northwest were wetter than average, where Montana had its eighth wettest January-March.
  • Beneficial rains reduced drought coverage across Hawaii during the first quarter, with 14.4 percent of the islands in moderate to extreme drought at the end of March compared to 49.5 percent of the state at the beginning of the year. Extreme drought (D3) persisted through March on central Molokai, where low water levels in the Kualapuu Reservoir have forced mandatory irrigation restrictions.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

March 2014 Statewide Temperature & Precipitation Rankings

March 2014 U.S. Climate Summary

March 2014 temperatures for Nebraska averaged near normal with much be,low normal temperatures to our northeast and much above normal temperatures to our southwest. The March 2014 precipitation in Nebraska was well below normal (ranked 11th driest on record out of 120 years of data, 1895-2014).

The U.S. Climate Highlights are below the two maps.

Climate Highlights — March 2014 From NOAA/NCDC

Below-average temperatures dominated the eastern half of the contiguous U.S. during March. The largest departures from average occurred across the Great Lakes and Northeast, where nine states had temperatures that ranked among their 10 coldest on record. The persistent cold resulted in nearly two-thirds of the Great Lakes remaining frozen into early April.

Vermont had its coldest March on record, with a statewide temperature of 18.3°F, 8.9°F below average. The previous coldest March in Vermont occurred in 1916 when the monthly average temperature was 18.6°F.

Maine and New Hampshire each had their second coldest March on record, while Michigan and New York had their fifth coldest. Massachusetts and Wisconsin had their eighth coldest March, Connecticut its ninth coldest, and Pennsylvania its 10th coldest.

Most locations from the Rockies westward had above-average March temperatures. California had its ninth warmest March, with a statewide temperature 4.7°F above average. No state was record warm for March.

The Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest were much wetter than average during March, with Montana and Washington having their third wettest and sixth wettest March on record, respectively. Conversely, much of the central U.S. and Midwest was drier than average. Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois each had a top 10 dry March.

On March 22nd, a large landslide impacted the Stillaguamish Valley near the town of Oso, Wash., causing at least 30 fatalities. Washington's Climate Division 3, in which the landslide occurred, observed its wettest March on record. Its 8.67 inches of precipitation during March was more than twice the monthly average.

According to the April 1 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up from 35.9 percent at the beginning of March. Beneficial precipitation fell in California during March, but did little to improve drought conditions — 23.5 percent of the state remained in the worst classification of drought ("exceptional"). Drought conditions intensified across parts of the Central and Southern Plains and expanded into parts of the Southeast.

According to NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, March snow cover extent across the contiguous U.S. was the 22nd largest in the 48-year period of record at 845,000 square miles, about 104,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. Above-average snow cover was observed across the Northern Plains and Rockies, Midwest and Northeast where numerous storms brought heavy snowfall during the month. Below-average snow cover was observed for most of the West and southern Rockies due to season-long snow deficits.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring: the battle between winter and summer in Nebraska

I have been asked by several news sources today "how can it be so warm (85F) in Lincoln on Saturday April 12 yet the next evening Sunday April 13 it is snowing and temperatures are near freezing"? I was also asked several times today "isn't an April snowfall in Lincoln extremely rare"? And I have also been asked today "why is this April so very cold across the U.S.?

April Snowfalls not all that uncommon:
First of all here are some interesting April snowfall facts for Lincoln.

Lincoln April snowfalls: 115 years of data
54 Aprils had measurable snowfall (47% of the years) and
61 Aprils had no measurable snowfall (53% of the years)
So, an April snowfall is NOT all that unusual. 
The odds of an April snowfall increase as you go west in Nebraska with an almost 60% climatological chance of measurable snow in April in western Nebraska.

The 2013-14 Lincoln Snowfall is well below normal:
Seasonal 2013-14 snowfall total for Lincoln so far  is 18.2 inches and the normal is 27.5 inches.  So this winter has actually been 9.3 inches BELOW normal.

So far this month, most of the US is warmer than normal. 
The April 1-13 map (below) shows that much of the U.S. (48 states) is (yellow to orange) warmer than normal for the month. The concept here is what we may be experiencing locally is not necessarily indicative of the rest of the U.S.

Why do we experience these large temperature contrasts in Winter and Spring?
It was 85F on Saturday in Lincoln, one degree below a record high.  We are on the 50-yard line of the football field of weather and there is always going to be a contrast here with cold air to our north and warm air to our south battling it out for supremacy. If you lived in Florida it will always be warm.  If you live up in Canada it will always be cold.  We are in the middle.

Check this out: Lincoln Temperature extremes the last few months
Dec. 2013 highest and lowest temperatures   65F and -10F
Jan. 2014 highest and lowest temperatures    66F and -11F
Feb. 2014 highest and lowest temperatures   69F and -13F
Mar. 2014 highest and lowest temperatures   78 F and -7F
Apr. 2014 highest and lowest temperatures    85F and 25F

Yes it will get cold again later this week since winter is not dead yet.  Cold air will return on Thursday and then summer will push north again warming us for the weekend,.  Eventually, soon, summer will be strong enough to hold back winter weather until next fall when they battle it out again.

Do you remember last May 2013?  

On May 1-2, 2013 it snowed in Lincoln and the temperature fell to 31F then it rapidly warmed to 73F. 
May 1-2, 2013 2.7 inches of snow
May7, 2013, 73F

But even more dramatic was the record low of 31F on May 12 and two days later it was a record warm day of 100F.

May 2013:
May 12, 2013 Record Low 31F
May 14, 2013 Record High of 100F


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March 2014 Lincoln Climate Summary

Headline:  March 2014 was cooler than normal and much drier than normal for Lincoln, NE.

The highest temperature observed in Lincoln, NE in March 2014 was 78 F on March 10, 2014.   The lowest temperature observed in Lincoln, NE in March 2014 was -7F on March 3, 2014.

The high temperature on March 2 was only 5F which is the coldest high temperature observed for that date as well as the coldest observed daytime high for any day in March (1887-2014).  The high of 5F on March 2 was 41 degrees BELOW the normal for the date of 46F.  A record high of 78F was set a few days later on March 10. March 2014 was the 6th month in a row of below normal temperatures for Lincoln.  This is the longest stretch of monthly temperatures below normal since November 1992 through November 1993 with 13 months in a row averaging below normal.
The March 2014 precipitation total in Lincoln, NE was 0.13 inches, or 1.80 inches below normal.   This was ranked the 5th lowest March precipitation on record out of 128 years of data (1887-2014).  Year to date January 1 -March 31 precipitation normal is 3.34 inches, observed January 1-March 31, 2014 is only 0.99 inches or 2.35 inches below normal.

Top Ten Driest Months of March (1887-2014)

in Inches

Lincoln saw two minor snowfalls during the March 2014, March 1 with 0.6 inches and March 18 with 0.1 inches.  This 0.7 inches is 4.1 inches below the normal March total of 4.8 inches.  The Winter 2013-14 snowfall total as of the end of March 2014 is only 17.7 inches
The following graph shows the Lincoln, NE, March 2014 daily high and low temperatures compared to normal daily highs and lows.  NOTE:  The March 2014statistics are located below the graph.

Here are the Lincoln, NE, summary statistics for March 2014.

March 2014 Temperature Statistics:
Average High Temperature 52.1 F (0.2 degrees BELOW Normal)
Average Low Temperature 22.2F (5.7 degrees BELOW Normal)
Mean Temperature 37.1 F (3.0 degrees
BELOW  Normal)
Note: Mean temperature = the average of all the highs and lows
Number of days ABOVE Normal = 15
Number of Days BELOW Normal = 15
Number of Days exactly Normal = 1
Highest temperature 78F on March 10

Lowest temperature -7 F on March 3
Record cold daytime high, 5F on March 2
Record high temperature of 78F on March 10

March 2014 Precipitation Statistics:
Total precipitation 0.13 inches (1.80 inches
BELOW Normal)
Heaviest precipitation 0.07 inches on March 27

Snowfall total 0.7 inches (4.8 inches  BELOW  Normal)

Normal January 1 - March 31 precipitation =  3.34 inches
Total precipitation January 1 - March 31 2014 = 0.99 inches
January 1 - March 31, 2014 precipitation deficit =  2.35 inches 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

February 2014 Global Avg. Temperature Above Normal

Did February 2014 seem much colder than normal to you?  

It sure did if you lived in the Midwest out into the Great Plains of Canada and the U.S.  At least we weren't alone, check out the "big blue blob" over central Asia!

Overall the Global average land and water temperature for February 2014 was warmer than normal (ranked 21st warmest out of 135 years of data (1880-2014) despite the much colder than normal conditions in parts of North America and Central Asia.

The February 2014 Global Highlights from NCDC are listed below the map.

Global temperature highlights: February
  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2014 tied with 2001 as the 21st highest for February at 54.64°F (12.51°C), or 0.74°F (0.41°C), above the 20th century average of 53.9°F (12.1°C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is +/- 0.22°F (0.12°C).
  • The February global land temperature tied with 1943 as the 44th highest for February on record and the coolest since February 1994, at 0.56°F (0.31°C) above the 20th century average of 37.8°F (3.2°C). The margin of error is +/- 0.58°F (0.32°C).
  • The Northern Hemisphere land areas between 30°N and 60°N were 0.52°F (0.29°C) below average, tying with 1957 as the 60th coolest (76th warmest) for February on record and the coolest departures from average for land regions in the world during the month. The last February that was colder in this region occurred just two years ago in 2012. That month was 0.74°F (0.41°C) below average, ranking as 50th coolest (86th warmest) for February and was primarily due to cooler-than-average temperatures over most of Eurasia and northern Africa.
  • Some national temperature highlights include:
    • In Scandinavia, many areas of Finland observed February temperatures 11°-14° F (6°-8°C) above average, with some regions in the north more than 16°F (9°C) above average. For central and northern Finland, it was the second warmest February in the 115-year period of record, behind only 1990. The February temperature for Norway was 11.0°F (6.0°C) higher than the 1981-2010 average, the second warmest February on record, also behind 1990.
    • The nationally-averaged temperature for Germany was 6.1°F (3.4°C) above the 1981-2010 average, marking the sixth warmest February since records began in 1881.
    • In Canada, many regions in Ontario observed February temperatures among their 10 coldest on record and coldest in more than 30 years, with departures more than -9°F (-5°C) at some few stations.
  • For the ocean, the February global sea surface temperature was 0.81°F (0.45°C) above the 20th century average of 60.6°F (15.9°C), the seventh highest for February on record and warmest February since 2010, when El Niño conditions were present. The margin of error is +/- 0.07°F (0.04°C). The Northern Hemisphere oceans outside the tropics (20°N-90°N) were record warm on average for February.
  • Neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during February 2014. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, there is about a 50 percent chance that El Niño conditions will develop during Northern Hemisphere summer or fall 2014.

Global Meteorological Winter (Dec. 1-Feb.28) WARMER than normal

Meteorological Winter (December 1 - February 28)
Global data set:  1880-2014, 135 years of data.

Land and water combined:  8th warmest on record
Land only, 10th warmest on record

The region with the most most below normal temperatures was the Midwest into Canada including Nebraska.  See the highlights below the map.

Global temperature highlights: December-February
  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for December-February was the eighth highest on record for this period, at 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th century average of 53.8°F (12.1°C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is +/- 0.18°F (0.10°C).
  • The global land temperature was the 10th highest for December-February on record and highest for the period since 2009, at 1.57°F (0.87°C) above the 20th century average of 46.4°F (8.1°C). The margin of error is +/- 0.40°F (0.22°C).
  • The Southern Hemisphere middle latitude land areas were record warm for austral summer. The Northern Hemisphere land areas ranked as 11th warmest, with some sharp north-south patterns in the polar jet stream that contributed to below-average temperatures in some regions and above-average temperatures in others.
    • Summer 2013/14 was warmer than average for Australia, with a nationally-averaged temperature that was 0.81°F (0.45°C) above the 1961-1990 average. This marks the 15th warmest summer for the country since records began in 1910 and is cooler compared with last year's record-setting summer that was 2.59°F (1.44°C) above average. This summer, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia all observed summer temperatures among their eight warmest on record, while the Northern Territory had its 28th coldest (77th warmest) average summer temperature on record.
    • Austria observed its second warmest winter in the country's 247-year period of record, behind only the winter of 2006/07, at 4.9°F (2.7°C) above the 1981-2010 average. Switzerland had its third warmest winter since national records began in 1864, while winter 2013/14 in the Netherlands tied with 1990 for its second warmest since national records began in 1901.
    • In northern Europe, Denmark reported its fifth warmest winter for 2013/14 since records began in 1874, at 6.7°F (3.7°C) above average.
    • The United States, conversely, had its 34th coldest winter in its 119-year period of record, at 1.0°F (0.6°C) below average, the coldest winter since 2009/10.
  • For the ocean, the December-February global sea surface temperature was 0.83°F (0.46°C), above the 20th century average of 60.7°F (16.0°C), tying with 2005 as the sixth highest for December-February on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.07°F (0.04°C). Similar to February, the average Northern Hemisphere ocean surface temperature outside the tropics (20°N-90°N) was also record warm for the winter season.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lincoln, NE, January Max Temperature 1887-2014

January 19, 2014 saw a new record high of 66F in Lincoln, NE breaking the old record of 65F set over 100 years ago in 1895.

This raises an interesting question.... how common is it to have temperatures this warm in January?  And is there any trend in the frequency of these warm January temperatures?

Lincoln daily temperature data extend from January 1887 to January 2014.  The following graph shows the warmest temperature during each January during this 128 year time period.

The 66F observed on January 19, 2014 is not the warmest recorded January temperature in Lincoln, NE.  The warmest January temperature observed in Lincoln during this time period is 73F set on January 10,1990.

There were 12 months of January which hit 66F or higher since 1981 (34 years) however,
only 9 months of January hit 66F or higher during the period 1887-1980 (94 years).

1981-2014 Percent of Januaries that saw at least 66F or higher = 12/34 = 35.3 %
1887-1980 Percent of Januaries that saw at least 66F or higher = 9/94 = 9.6%

Clearly the probability of having a January temperature of 66F or higher is greater during the more recent time period.

Breaking this down by 20 year time periods for the highest temperature observed in each January:
20 Years       Frequency  66F or Higher

1995-2014     6
1975-1994     6
1955-1974     1
1935-1954     3
1915-1934     4
1905-1924     0