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