By Russell Russ
May’s weather was not the most pleasant. Following a much warmer than normal and very spring-like April, May was mostly cool, cloudy and wet. On the plus side, May did bring much needed rainfall to the area. It was the first month since February 2016 where the monthly precipitation amount was above normal. Norfolk is still carrying a rainfall deficit for this calendar year, and the running two year deficit is still a concern, but perhaps May has turned the tide and we will finally be making some progress in the rainfall department.
May’s low temperature of 30 degrees was observed on May 9 and the high of 89 degrees was observed on May 18. The first half of the month was much cooler than normal, but a mid-month warm spell with a couple of record breaking days changed that. The May 17 high of 87 degrees surpassed the old 1974 record of 83 and the May 18 high of 89 surpassed the 1962 high of 86. The high of 84 degrees on May 19 was a few degrees shy of a record.
With an average monthly mean temperature of 53.2 degrees, the month ended up being 1.7 degrees cooler than average. It was cool, but May’s temperature was nowhere near any record. It was however the coolest May since 2008. The coolest May on record was in 1967 with 46.8 degrees. The warmest May was in 2015 with 61.8 degrees.
May’s total precipitation amount of 5.61 inches was 1.26 inches above normal. Norfolk’s driest May was in 1980 with 1.31 inches and the wettest May was in 1984 with 12.34 inches. Through May this year our total precipitation amount was 18.79 inches. This is still 1.86 inches below normal, but the yearly deficit was decreased this month.
A brief burst of morning snow and snow showers throughout the day on May 8 brought just a trace of snowfall. Snow might not be welcome in May, but it does happen fairly regularly in Norfolk. Even with this brief snowfall, May’s monthly snowfall was still 0.4 inch below normal. The 2016-2017 winter season snowfall amount ended up being just 1.1 inches below normal. The winter was fairly average for snowfall, but we are running 13.4 inches below normal for snowfall for the 2017 calendar year.
A look ahead to June’s weather shows that the month began much like May did, much cooler than normal and quite cloudy and wet. A mini heat wave with a couple of record setting warm days June 11 to 13 will certainly bring up the month’s temperature average. Rainfall was about average through mid-month. June might not go down as being the most pleasant weather-wise, but summer had definitely arrived and the looming rainfall deficit’s grip seems to be loosening.
Fourth Warmest April on Record
By Russell Russ
April began with six inches of snow on the ground and most local lakes and ponds still covered with ice. Maple sap was still flowing and syrup was still being produced. By April 5, both the snow and the ice were gone and the maple syrup season was over. Temperatures quickly became warmer than normal and stayed that way throughout the remainder of the month. Snowfall and rainfall were below normal, but both were not far below normal. Spring came in April.
Unlike last year, when some unseasonably cold April temperatures hurt certain flowering trees and shrubs, there were no hard freezes this year to cause much damage. Blooming time and abundance was about normal this year, much better than last year.
April’s low temperature of 26 degrees was observed on April 9 and the high of 84 degrees was observed on April 11, just two days later. There were two daily-record high temperatures this month: April 10, with 78 degrees, surpassed the old 1945 record of 75 degrees; and April 11, with 84 degrees, surpassed another 1945 record of 78 degrees.
With an average monthly mean temperature of 48.4 degrees, it was 5.3 degrees warmer than normal, making this April Norfolk’s fourth warmest over the last 86 years. The warmest April was in 2010 with an average mean temperature of 49.4 degrees and the coldest was in 1943 with 36.8 degrees. April’s average monthly temperature has not been below 40 degrees since 1978.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.76 inches, 0.47 inches below normal. Through April, our total precipitation for the year was 13.18 inches, 3.12 inches below normal. The precipitation deficit still continues to grow, but it is slowing down and is not a major concern at this time.
April’s snowfall total was 1.4 inches, 4.5 inches below normal. The month began with six inches of snow on the ground, but that was all gone by April 5. The 2016-17 winter season snowfall total was 88.7 inches. This was just 1.1 inches below normal, so it was very much a typical winter for snowfall. Last winter the snowfall total was a record-setting 35.5 inches, the least amount on record.
An early look at May’s weather through May 15 shows that temperatures were running seven degrees cooler than normal. There was even a brief burst of snow followed by snow showers on May 8, but despite the month’s cool start, the unseasonably warm spell that occurred May 17 to May 19 will certainly bring up the average. Rain fell in greater than usual amounts, and we had nearly reached May’s monthly rainfall average by mid-month. This will provide some relief from the rainfall deficit that we have recently been facing.
Back to winter
By Russell Russ
With February’s record warmth, you would have thought March would follow suit and spring would be just around the corner. The first day of March was warm, the warmest day of the month actually, but it was back to winter after that. There were some nice early spring days, but a majority of the month was cold. Most local lakes and ponds had lost their ice in late February only to get it back again in early March. The larger lakes began opening up late in the month, but Tobey Pond and many other smaller ponds stayed ice covered into April.
March is typically the big maple syrup producing month in Norfolk, but this year it was too cold for sap flow during a good portion of the month. In the end, it turned out to be about an average maple syrup year in Norfolk. The top story of the month was the blizzard that hit on March 14. Snowfall depths ranging between 14 and 22 inches were reported in the Norfolk area. Conditions were bad with much blowing and drifting, but forecasts were for more snow than we actually received, so it could have been worse.
March’s high temperature of 59 degrees was observed on March 1 and the low of 1 degree was observed on March 5. With an average mean temperature of 27.7 degrees, it was 3 degrees colder than normal. There were no daily record highs or lows. It was the sixteenth coldest March over the last 86 years.
The total precipitation for the month was 3.20 inches, 1.23 inches below normal. Not record setting, but it did add to our slow growing yearly deficit. Through the first quarter of 2017 the total precipitation amount was 9.42 inches, 2.65 inches below normal.
The monthly snowfall total was 21.2 inches, 3.7 inches above normal. Interestingly, there was no snow on the ground until March 10. The blizzard on March 14 produced varying snowfall amounts. The total blizzard snowfall at the weather station was 15.9 inches over two days, but there were people that reported up to 22 inches in and around Norfolk. The blizzard contained heavier snow bands, much like summer thunderstorms, and it depended where the heavier bands happened to hit. Had it not been for this one storm, March’s monthly snowfall would have been well below normal.
Unlike last year, which was the least snowy winter season on record, this winter season, October through March, was just about normal. Through March, this winter’s snowfall amount was 87.3 inches, 3.8 inches above normal.
An early look at April showed it to be fairly normal through mid-month. Most area ponds had lost their ice for the season by April 5. The early February warmth had pushed budding and blooming a little ahead of schedule, but a cool March kept things in check. Spring really is now just around the corner and it will not be long until everything greens up once again. Enjoy the early warm days before the blackflies come out, but watch out for ticks who are already here.
Second Warmest February on Record
By Russell Russ
The month began with all ponds being iced over, 5 inches of snow on the ground, cold temperatures and then several days with snowfall. Through mid-month temperatures were running about 5 degrees below average for February and we had already received our average snowfall amount for the entire month. Winter had arrived. The latter part of the month was a completely different story with barely a trace of snowfall, very warm temperatures and even a thunderstorm on February 25. There were five days during the last week of the month that set records for daily high temperatures. The snow was all gone and the ponds were free of ice by the close of the month. Spring had arrived.
The month’s low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on February 10. The high temperature of 67 was observed on February 24. The average monthly mean temperature was 30.2 degrees, 8.3 degrees above normal. It was the second warmest February over the last 86 years. Daily record highs: 55 on February 22, 62 on February 23, 67 on February 24, 60 on February 25 and 57 on February 28. The warmest February on record was in 2002 when the monthly mean temperature was 30.7 degrees. For comparison, the coldest two months (of any month) on record for this station are February 1934 with 9.0 degrees and February 2015 (just two years ago) with 10.9 degrees.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.69 inches, 0.94 inch below normal. The 2017 calendar year, January and February, total precipitation amount of 6.22 inches is 1.42 inches below normal. The ongoing drought continues to slowly get worse.
The monthly snowfall total of 20.8 inches was 0.2 inch above normal. It did not seem like it snowed much, but it did – it just all came during the first half of the month. The 2017 calendar year snowfall total of 29.3 inches is 12.2 inches below normal. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is 66.1 inches, just 0.1 inch above normal. We would be considerably more below normal for snowfall had it not been for a fairly snowy November.
A look ahead to March shows that winter was in fact not done yet. After two near record warm days to start the month it quickly turned cold. Halfway through March, temperatures were running nearly 6 degrees cooler than normal with many nights dipping down into the single digits. Early March was cold, but relatively snow free until the March 14 blizzard hit. The weather station recorded nearly 16 inches, but many other locations in the area saw depths ranging from 14 to 24 inches. The big nor’easter with its heavy snow bands produced some varying snowfall totals. With multiple single digit mornings, many ponds icing over again and then the heavy snowfall with much blowing and drifting, many wondered where our early spring had gone. By mid-March the monthly snowfall amount was already nearly 3 inches above normal. The maple syrup makers may have gotten a good jump on the season in mid-February, but Mother Nature put a hold on the syrup business during February’s late month warm spell and again during early March’s cold spell.
Another Warm January
By Russell Russ
Just when it seemed that winter had us firmly in its grasp we got a little break. We all thought last January was warm, but this year was over 3 degrees warmer than that. Snowfall was well below average, but it was several inches more than last year’s amount. The ongoing precipitation deficit continues, but it grew only a small amount this month.
January’s average mean temperature of 27.2 degrees was 6.4 degrees above normal. It was Norfolk’s ninth warmest January over the last 86 years. The warmest January on record was in 2002 with an average temperature of 31.7 degrees. The month’s high temperature of 52 degrees was observed on January 12. This tied the 1932 record hi temperature for that date. The low temperature of -4 degrees was observed on January 9. Only three days during the month had low temperatures in the single digits or lower.
January’s total precipitation of 3.53 inches was 0.48 inch below normal. The monthly snowfall total of 8.5 inches was 12.4 inches below normal. This January’s snowfall amount was the ninth least amount for a January over the last 86 years. The January 2016 snowfall amount of 4.8 inches was the fourth lowest January monthly snowfall amount. The record for least snowfall for a January is 2.6 inches from 1980. The winter season, October through January, snowfall amount of 45.3 inches is just 0.1 inch below normal. Even with January’s limited snowfall we are still very much average for snowfall this winter.
Winter will have to kick in at some point, but for the month of January it was in a bit of a holding pattern. A look at February’s weather through mid-month shows that winter finally woke up – and woke up a little angry. Halfway through the month and we had already seen our normal monthly snowfall amount of 20 inches. Other parts of the state have seen even more snow than Norfolk. Temperatures were running about 2 degrees warmer than normal with no super cold days recorded yet. February can produce some of Norfolk’s coldest temperatures. Spring may be around the corner, but winter is not over just yet.