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Past Narratives - 2008

January 2008

Sun dogs and Icebows

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 5 degrees below zero was observed on January 3. The high temperature of 57 degrees was observed on January 8. The average temperature this month was 25.0 degrees. This was 4.7 degrees above the normal January average. A wind chill temperature of 26 degrees below zero was recorded during the early morning of January 3.

The low temperature of 5 degrees below zero observed during the early morning of January 3 tied a record low for that date. It was also 5 degrees below zero back on January 3, 1981. Four days later on January 7 we tied a record high temperature for that date with 52 degrees, the same high temperature that was recorded back in 1946. The 57 degrees observed on January 8 set a record high for that date, beating the old record high of 52 degrees set back in 1937.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.37 inches. This was 1.64 inches below normal. Interestingly, December’s total precipitation was exactly 1.64 inches above normal. There were a few flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder on the morning of January 11. January’s snowfall total was 19.2 inches which was 2.5 inches below normal. The snowstorm that began during the late evening of January 13 and ended during the day on January 14 was by far the biggest, dumping a total of 9.8 inches at the station. As in December, there was a snow cover on the ground at the station every day this month. The snow cover ranged from a low of just 3 inches to a maximum of 13 inches with a daily average of 9 inches.

A beautiful icebow was observed on the morning of January 3. A unique phenomenon, which also occurred to a lesser extent on January 22, that generally occurs in colder climates. When the air temperature is very cold and there are high thin clouds the light from the low on the horizon sun refracts through the ice crystals in the clouds resulting in a band, or bow, of color. A parhelion, or sun dog, is formed under somewhat similar circumstances, but only appears as a colored luminous spot to either side of the sun. When conditions are right a parhelion can form on both sides of the sun. At the weather station this month there were seven days when a parhelion was observed.

February 2008

Second Wettest February in last 77 years

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 54 degrees was observed on February 18. The low temperature of 1 degree below zero was observed on February 29. The average temperature this month was 24.8 degrees. This was 3.5 degrees above the normal February average, but by no means record setting.

February’s normal monthly total precipitation amount is 3.74 inches. The total precipitation recorded this February was 9.85 inches, a whopping 6.11 inches above normal. Now this was record setting. It was the second highest February precipitation amount in the last 77 years. Only 1981 with 11.70 inches recorded more February precipitation. Two thunderstorms were observed at the station this month, a small one during the morning of February 5 and a larger one that produced a burst of hail during the evening of February 6. The month’s two biggest rainmakers dumped large amounts of rain over short periods of time. During a roughly 20 hour long period from 6 a.m. February 6 to 2 a.m. February 7 we recorded 2.13 inches of precipitation. And, during a roughly 22 hour long period from 6 p.m. February 12 to 4 p.m. February 13 we recorded 3.38 inches of precipitation.

February’s snowfall total was 25.9 inches, which was 4.3 inches above normal. The largest snowstorm this month was on February 22 when we received 8.2 inches of snow. Many open areas around town lost their snow cover for periods of time, but at the weather station we have now had a constant snow cover since the beginning of December. The snow cover at the station this month ranged from a low of 5 inches to a maximum of 17 inches.

An often-asked question, why are these weather summaries always two months old? The reason for the two month lag is that Norfolk Now must have their articles in by the second or third week of the month and at that time you obviously cannot have a complete month’s worth of data. So, to read about a certain month you must wait until the end of the following month when the article is published.

March 2008

A Fairly Typical March

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 50 degrees was observed on March 26. The low temperature of 12 degrees was observed on March 30. The average temperature this month was 30.5 degrees. This was just 0.2 degrees above the normal March average.

March’s normal monthly total precipitation amount is 4.45 inches. The total precipitation recorded this March was 5.94 inches. This was 1.49 inches above normal, but by no means out of the ordinary. As of March 8 we almost had our normal monthly amount of precipitation and it looked like March might be another record setting wet month just as February was, but in the end it came out just a bit above normal.

The snowfall total for the month was 9.9 inches, making it 8.8 inches below normal for March. We can see some big snow producing nor’easters during the month of March, but not this year. The largest snowstorm this month actually started on the last day of February and continued into March 1. A total of 6.5 inches fell. After that we saw only a dusting to an inch for totals in numerous other snow events. The snow cover was receding quickly all around town especially toward the end of the month, but the station managed to keep snow on the ground throughout the month. The snow cover at the station this month ranged from a high of 21 inches (a season high) on March 1 to a low of 2 inches on March 31.

A snow core sample measured on March 4 showed that there was 5.7 inches of water sitting on the ground in the form of ice and snow. A snow core measured on March 18 produced 4.6 inches of water. Snow cores are routinely done throughout the winter months to measure the amount of frozen precipitation that is on the ground. The National Weather Service is very interested in these figures so that they can issue flood watches and warnings should there be a rapid warm-up or large rain event.

The snowfall total for this winter season to date, November through March, is 79.1 inches. This is 9.4 inches below normal. The snowfall recorded for 2008 to date, January through March, is 55.0 inches, which is 7.0 inches below normal. The total precipitation recorded thus far for 2008 is 18.16 inches, which is 5.96 inches above normal. We have been getting the moisture so far this year; it has just been more rain than snow.

April 2008

Third Warmest April Since 1932

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 77 degrees was observed on both April 19 and 23. The low temperature of 23 degrees was observed on April 3. The average temperature this month was 47.5 degrees, 4.9 degrees above the April average. It was the third warmest April since we began keeping records in 1932. The warmest April was in 1945 with 48.7 degrees; the second was in 2002 with 48.6 degrees.

The total precipitation recorded this month was 3.67 inches, 0.77 inches below normal. Thunderstorms were observed on April 1 and 12. Only a trace of snowfall was observed this month. The April average snowfall amount is 7.1 inches, but it is not uncommon to see only a trace. The station lost its measurable snow cover on March 31, but kept a trace on the ground until April 4. The snow cover was then gone for the season.

The snowfall total for this winter season to date, November through April, is 79.1 inches, 16.5 inches below normal. The snowfall recorded for 2008 to date, January through April, is 55.0 inches, 14.1 inches below normal. The total precipitation recorded thus far for 2008 is 21.83 inches, 5.19 inches above normal.

The ice went out on Wangum Lake on April 1, followed by Pond Hill and Tobey Ponds on April 5. April was blessed with about 18 days of pleasantly warm temperatures, mostly clear skies and no precipitation. One could really enjoy the first week or so of these nice days, and then the black flies came out. The lack of precipitation did raise the fire danger level during the second half of the month, but it was relatively short lived. It seemed to be a great year for forsythia blooms.

May 2008

On the cool side, but a nice Memorial Day weekend

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 26 degrees was observed on May 1. The high temperature of 80 degrees was observed on May 27. The average temperature this month was 52.1 degrees, 2.5 degrees below the May average. There were no weather records set this month.

The total precipitation recorded this month was 2.74 inches, 1.72 inches below normal. Thunderstorms were observed on May 21, 27 and 31. There was no snowfall this month. The May average snowfall amount is just 0.5 inch, but we couldn’t even manage that.

The snowfall total for the Winter Season of 2007-2008 was 79.1 inches, 17 inches below normal. The snowfall recorded for 2008 to date, January through May, is 55 inches, 14.6 inches below normal. The total precipitation recorded for 2008 through May is 24.57 inches, 3.47 inches above normal.

It was a pretty quiet month weather-wise. There were some cloudy and rainy days, but also a good number of nice days. It was a very pleasant Memorial Day weekend. It might have been a bit too warm for the runners in Norfolk’s annual road race, but it was great for the spectators. The month ended with a bang on May 31 when a moderate thunderstorm rolled in during the early evening bringing brief heavy rain and even a little hail.

June 2008

Wet and Wild

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 92 degrees was observed on June 10. The low temperature of 45 degrees was observed on June 18. The average temperature this month was 66.2 degrees, 3 degrees above normal. There were two temperature records set this month. The high temperature of 88 degrees on June 7 beat the old June 7 record of 87 degrees set in 1933 and the high temperature of 92 degrees on June 10 beat the old June 10 record of 87 degrees set in 1934.

The total precipitation recorded this month was 7.67 inches, 3.00 inches above normal. There were a total of nine thunderstorms this month. The days with storms were June 6, 8, 10, 14 (which had two), 16, 22, 23 and 30. Many of these storms dumped heavy rain over short periods of time. The storm on the evening of June 10 was the most destructive by far and one of the more memorable ones that have hit Norfolk in quite some time. This particular storm came with heavy rain, hail, damaging winds and perhaps most memorable of all, vivid and frequent lightning. Many roads around town were blocked by downed trees and branches. Electricity was knocked out in some areas for nearly 48 hours. The general conclusion from the National Weather Service was that the damage was a result of straight-line winds, not any tornadoes.

The total precipitation recorded for 2008 through June is 32.24 inches, 6.47 inches above normal. It was a warm and wet month overall. Looking back through the records to 1932 this month fell within the top ten months of June for both warm temperatures and most rainfall.

June Storm Summary

A brief summary of June’s stormy weather through June 21, as recorded at Norfolk’s National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observer Station, Norfolk 2 SW, by the Great Mountain Forest Corporation. Our weather station records rainfall with two National Weather Service instruments. One is an 8 inch non-recording rain gage that is manually measured each day and the other is a universal recording rain gage that runs on a clock that graphs-out rainfall on a marked chart. Norfolk 2 SW is one of only three locations in Connecticut, and the only privately run Cooperative station, that records precipitation to this extent for the National Weather Service.

June has been a very stormy month. To start at the beginning we have to go back to the early evening of May 31 when Norfolk was hit with a quick thunderstorm that dumped about 0.65 inches of rain in less than 30 minutes. There was a brief bit of hail with this storm. Even though this storm actually occurred in May, according to the National Weather Service, the rain that fell that evening gets recorded on June’s total. Looking back, it now appears that this was just a sign of things to come for the coming month.

On June 6 around 9:30 p.m. there was a thunderstorm with rain to follow over a 5 hour period that produced 0.75 inches of rain.

On June 8 around 3:15 p.m. a thunderstorm produced 1.02 inches in about 45 minutes.

On June 10 at a little before 10:00 p.m. one of the more violent thunderstorms to hit the area in quite some time blasted the area with high winds, vivid lightning, heavy rain and hail. This storm dumped 0.93 inches of rain, most of which came in about a 15 minute period. Many trees and power lines were damaged during this storm event. Some parts of town were without power for 48 hours or more. Many roads in town, including Routes 44 and 272, were closed for periods of time to allow crews time to clear the downed trees and repair power lines and poles. Parts of Canaan and Colebrook were also hit hard by this storm. What most people seem to remember the most about this storm was the frequency of the lightning. It was like a strobe light was turned on. Once the storm was over many people had to turn their attention to the lack of electricity (and Internet) and the detours they had to take to get out of their neighborhoods.

June 14 had two thunderstorms. One at 2:00 p.m. produced 0.85 inches in about 20 minutes and another at 7:00 p.m. produced 0.67 inches, most of which fell in about 1 hour.

Another thunderstorm lasting about 45 minutes hit Norfolk with 0.97 inches of rain and some hail during the early evening of June 16.

Normally the entire month of June receives 4.67 inches of rain. Through June 21 this year, thanks to these thunderstorms and numerous other days with just plain rain, we have received 6.41 inches. Norfolk was brushed with a couple more thunderstorms during the late morning and afternoon of June 22. These were quick hitters that produced less than 0.50 inches of rain. The totals were not in at the time of writing this summary, but it appears that we are on our way to at least a 7 inch rain total for the month. This seems like it should be a record, but in fact even 7 inches wouldn’t even make it into the top ten for the wettest months of June. What we all will remember though is the number and strength of the thunderstorms that we saw.

July 2008

A Fairly Typical July

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 53 degrees was observed on July 11. The high temperature of 87 degrees was observed on both July 19 and 20. The average temperature this month was 70 degrees, 2.2 degrees above the July average. There were no weather records set this month. Although there were no high temperature records or big heat waves that hit town this July, Norfolk did have some typical hazy, hot and humid weather, especially during the middle part of the month.

It was generally cloudy around the Fourth of July weekend, but most of the region’s fireworks displays seemed to go off without many weather related problems.

The total precipitation recorded this month was 5.65 inches, 1.54 inches above normal. Thunderstorms were observed on July 20, 24, 27 (which had two), and 31. This July continued this summer’s trend of a seemingly above average number of thunderstorms which produce short bursts of heavy rainfall.

Norfolk is now just about 8 inches above average for yearly precipitation. The total precipitation recorded for 2008 through July is 37.89 inches.

August 2008

Heading Towards a Record

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 80 degrees was observed on August 18. The low temperature of 45 degrees was observed on August 20. The average temperature this month was 65.1 degrees, just about one degree below the August average.

While the average temperature was close to normal this month, we hit 80 degrees or higher just one time. For August, this is a little unusual. On average, Norfolk gets up to 90 degrees or higher 2.5 times per year. On only one occasion this summer we topped 90 degrees, and that was back in June. It seems Global Warming must have taken.

What did not take the summer off was the rain. August’s total rainfall amount was 6.62 inches, 2.06 inches above normal. Six thunderstorms were observed at the station this month. The most notable weather event this month came during the afternoon of August 15 when Norfolk got hit by a thunderstorm and a long line of heavy rain that dumped 2.60 inches in about two hours. Historically the month of August has had some high rain totals so this August wasn’t record breaking. The wettest month (of any month) by far on record for Norfolk was

During the summer months of June, July and August we were collectively 6.60 inches above normal for rainfall. For the year we are now 10.07 inches above normal. We have a ways to go until year’s end, but it could easily be the wettest year since 1996 and possibly one of our top ten wettest years on record.

There was great weather during the first weekend of the month for Norfolk’s big 250th anniversary celebration. It was a beautiful Friday evening for the spectacular fireworks show. A quick thunderstorm hit around noon on Saturday, but it cleared off nicely in time for the start of the parade. Mother Nature was indeed nice to Norfolk that weekend, but she had her raincoat and rubber boots on for a good portion of the summer.

September 2008

Another Wet Month

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 82 degrees was observed on September 5. The low temperature of 37 degrees was observed on September 20. The average temperature this month was 60.5 degrees. This was 2.2 degrees above normal. A high temperature of 79 degrees on September 14 was a record high for that date. The old record was 78 degrees set back in 1969. There was a light frost in some lower valley locations on September 20.

September’s total rainfall amount was 8.48 inches, 3.83 inches above normal. Thunderstorms were observed at the station on September 3 and 9. During the late afternoon of September 6 to the very early hours of September 7 we received nearly 4 inches of rain in just nine hours. This was the ninth wettest September since we began keeping records in 1932.

We are still on pace for a potential top ten finish for years with the most amount of precipitation. Through the end of September we have received 52.99 inches of total precipitation. Our normal yearly average is 52.49 inches so we have already surpassed the average total yearly amount with three months still to come. Comparing this to a normal year through the month of September we are now 13.9 inches above normal.

October 2008

The Season’s First Snow

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 67 degrees was observed on October 16. The low temperature of 25 degrees was observed on October 24. The average temperature was 46.0 degrees, 1.5 degrees below the October average. Throughout the entire month there were numerous days with frost at various locations around town. The season’s first hard freeze came on October 20 when the low temperature at the station hit 26 degrees. Even though a few days preceding Halloween were a bit cooler than normal it did warm up nicely for the actual day, resulting in another year with great trick-or-treating conditions. For those keeping track, it was Norfolk’s sixth year in a row with warm, dry weather for Halloween.

The total October precipitation was 3.72 inches, 0.27 inches below normal. The first snow flurries of the season came on October 22. The first measurable snowfall came during the late afternoon and evening of October 28. The snow melted quickly in many locations, but held on for a few days in some higher, cooler parts of town. There were also flurries on October 29. The station recorded 2.0 inches of snowfall for the month. The average October snowfall amount is just about an inch.

Whether you like it or not, now that we are entering the winter season we can again talk of snowfall amounts. For the 2008 calendar year through October the station has recorded 57.0 inches of snow. This is 39.1 inches below our normal yearly amount.

On the other hand, the total precipitation recorded so far for 2008 is 56.71 inches, 4.22 inches above the normal yearly amount. Comparing this to an average year through the month of October we are 13.63 inches above normal. With two months to go until year’s end we are still on pace for a Top Ten finish, if not a Top Five, for wettest years on record since 1932.

November 2008

A fairly typical November

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 63 degrees was observed on November 15. The low temperature of 11 degrees was observed on November 22. The average temperature was 36.6 degrees, just 0.1 degree below the November average. With so many cold days at the latter half of the month it just seemed much colder. The cold days averaged-out due to the warmer than normal first half of the month.

November’s total precipitation amount was 3.05 inches, 1.78 inches below normal. There were nine days with a trace of snowfall observed, but no measurable amount of snow fell. The average November snowfall amount is 8.2 inches.

For the 2008 calendar year through November the station has recorded 57.0 inches of snow. We are 39.1 inches below our normal yearly amount. Through the month of November we are 21.6 inches below our average snowfall amount.

The total precipitation recorded so far for 2008 is 59.76 inches, 7.27 inches above the normal yearly amount. Comparing this to an average year through the month of November we are 11.85 inches above normal. With still a month to go until year’s end, 2008 is currently the ninth wettest year on record since 1932. Just assuming December is about average we have a shot at perhaps the fifth wettest year since 1932. Stay tuned.

Except for the lack of some measurable snowfall, this November was how many of us picture November being. It was cloudy most days and just seemed to be cold all month. Eighteen of the month’s thirty days saw some form of precipitation. Many local smaller ponds iced over around November 20 and stayed ice covered through the end of the month. Larger bodies of water, like Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake, stayed open for the most part all month.

December 2008

Record setting month closes a record setting year

By Russell Russ

Here are the weather highlights from December 2008 as recorded at Norfolk’s National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observer Station, Norfolk 2 SW, by the Great Mountain Forest Corporation. Norfolk 2 SW has completed its seventy seventh year of recording weather observations.

The month’s high temperature of 56 degrees was observed on December 10. The low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on December 22. The average temperature this month was 27.6 degrees, 3 degrees above normal.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 8.45 inches, 3.87 inches above normal. It was the fifth wettest December since we began observations in 1932. It was very nearly the third wettest December. The snowfall total was 20.0 inches. This was 2.5 inches above normal. The snowstorm on December 19 was the largest, dumping 8 inches at the station. We picked up a total of 15.5 inches of snow between December 19 and December 21. Even though the temperature hit 48 degrees on December 25 it was another white Christmas in Norfolk.

As described in January’s issue there was a damaging ice storm on December 11 and 12. Many homes in the area lost power from downed lines due to broken branches and toppled trees. Some homes were out for days. Norfolk had some damage, but we were much more fortunate than our neighbors up in Massachusetts who really got the brunt of the ice damage.

After freezing and thawing a few times beginning on December 7 most local ponds and lakes, including Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake, froze over for good on December 18. This was about two weeks later than last year. It would have been similar to last year had it not been for a few days in the mid-50 degree range during the middle part of the month.

In review of Norfolk’s weather for the 2008 calendar year it was a little warmer than average and much wetter than average. The yearly mean temperature was 46.0 degrees, 1.6 degrees above average. Interestingly, this is exactly what last year’s yearly mean temperature was. The average yearly mean temperature for the last ten years is 46.2 degrees. The year of 2008 was the fourth wettest year since 1932 when we began observations. The yearly total precipitation amount was 68.21 inches, 15.72 inches above average and 20.04 inches more than we measured last year. Snowfall for the year totaled 77.0 inches. This was 19.1 inches below average, but by no means a record for least amount of yearly snowfall.

My closing comment from last year’s yearly review seems to still be appropriate so I will use it again for this year. A common statement being made these days by many weather experts is that we can expect to see big swings in both temperature and precipitation. For now, it appears that they seem to know what they are talking about.

December Storm Summary

December’s weather started out quietly with the first ten days being relatively normal with not much recorded precipitation; then came the ice storm of December 11 and 12. This ice storm was a classic example showing how important elevation is to what we get in the way of precipitation. With the general cut-off line of 1,000 feet in elevation there was a marked difference in the way we experienced this storm. Below 1,000 feet there was mostly just rain, but above it there was rain and damaging freezing rain. The higher you went in elevation the more ice you had on your trees and power lines. Winsted and Canaan had minimal ice while many parts of Norfolk and Colebrook had upwards of one quarter of an inch of ice build-up. Just over the Massachusetts line the damage was even worse. Power was knocked out in many parts of the region for days.

You could just tell we were in for trouble when on the afternoon of December 10 the temperature dropped nearly 10 degrees between 2:00 pm and 2:15 pm. At 2:00 pm it was 55 degrees and by 5:00 pm it was 38 degrees. Starting back on December 10 here are some rain totals. From December 10 at 2:00 am to December 11 at 8:00 am we recorded 1.12 inches from rain and rain showers. From December 11 at 8:00 am to December 12 at 10:30 am we recorded 3.30 inches of rain and freezing rain. Here in Norfolk we made it through most of the day on December 11 with mostly just rain, but then during the late evening and into the early hours of December 12 the ice began to build and that is when much of the damage occurred. All night long and into the daylight hours of December 12 you could hear the “pops” and “crashes” of branches and whole trees breaking from the weight of the ice. On the Great Mountain Forest property the roads were a mess. Many trees and branches blocked miles of our woods roads. After a few days of clean- up we managed to at least cut our way through a good portion of our road network. With the roads scheduled to be closed for vehicles at the season’s first significant snow it was a rush to make them passable for skiers while we could still drive in.

Then the snow hit. The snow began about 12:00 noon on December 19 and continued to fall at a moderate to heavy rate until about 9:00 pm. There was nearly 7 inches of snow by 5:00 pm. In total we recorded 8 inches of snow from this storm. The totals from all over the state ranged from 4 inches to 10 inches. It snowed off and on all day on December 20 where we recorded 2.5 inches. It snowed again during the morning and afternoon of December 21 leaving us with an additional 5 inches on the ground.

Looking at the monthly totals through December 22 we are at 18.3 inches for snowfall, already almost one inch over the normal December monthly total. We have measured 7.20 inches of total precipitation during this same period, already 2.62 inches over the normal monthly total. And, more rain is in the forecast for the coming days.

With November and early December being relatively dry and snow free these two weeks in December were big reminders of what Norfolk can experience for winter weather. In early December everyone was wondering if we would be having another warm winter without much snow, but if these last two weeks are any indication of what is to come, then we better buckle up for a good old fashioned Norfolk roller coaster winter.