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.




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