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Past Narratives - 2009

January 2009

No global warming in Norfolk this month

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of minus 12 degrees was observed on January 17. This tied a record low temperature for that date. January 17, 1971 also reached a low of minus 12 degrees. The high temperature of 40 degrees was observed on January 23. The average mean temperature this month was 15.5 degrees, 4.8 degrees below the January normal. This was colder than normal, but nowhere near record levels.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.48 inches, 0.53 inches below normal. January’s snowfall total was 25.1 inches, 3.4 inches above normal. There was snow cover on the ground at the station every day this month with depths ranging from 4 to 15 inches. The snowfall total for this Winter Season (October through January) is now at 47.1 inches. This is just 1.1 inches above normal. With no measurable snowfall in November we have made up for it during December and January.

This month, icebows were observed on two separate mornings. On January 20, a beautiful full icebow was visible for over an hour and on January 27, a partial one was also visible. An icebow is a unique phenomenon which 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. We were lucky enough to see this occurrence last January as well.

A note of apology to all the ‘weather nuts’ out there who enjoy viewing Norfolk’s weather conditions via the Internet. In January, Great Mountain Forest’s Davis Vantage Pro weather station malfunctioned for the last time, and had to be removed. The good news is that a new Davis Vantage Pro 2 station will be fully operational in February. The new station is fitted with a heater that should help with precipitation measurements in situations where the temperatures are below freezing. In these conditions, the precipitation readings may still not be perfect, but they should be more reliable than they were with the old station. Remember the station that you see on the Internet is our ‘just for fun’ station and not the official one, which is used to report to the National Weather Service.

You can access Norfolk’s Great Mountain Forest weather by going to our Web site, greatmountainforest.org, or by just doing a search for Norfolk, CT weather or Great Mountain Forest weather. Log on and enjoy.

February 2009

A fairly typical February for Norfolk

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of minus 1 degree was observed on February 5. The high temperature of 54 degrees was observed on February 11, which tied a record high temperature for that date set on February 11, 1981. A high temperature of 53 degrees on February 27 set a new record high for that date, beating out the old record of 52 degrees set on that date back in 1976. The average mean temperature this month was 24.8 degrees, 3 degrees above the norm.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.24 inches, 1.38 inches below normal. February’s snowfall total was 17.6 inches, 2.6 inches below normal. There was snow cover on the ground at the station every day this month with depths ranging from 10 to 17 inches. The snowfall total for this winter season (October through February) is now at 64.7 inches, 1.4 inches below normal. So far, for the two months of 2009 we are at 42.7 inches of snowfall, 1.5 inches above normal and 5.72 inches for total precipitation, 1.97 inches below normal.

Twice this month, measurements were taken to determine the amount of water that was sitting on the ground in the form of snow and ice. On February 15, there were 3.4 inches of water equivalent in the 10 inches of snow and ice on the ground. On February 25, there were 4.5 inches of water equivalent in the 17 inches of snow and ice on the ground. This will become important to forecasters as we approach the spring thaw.

March 2009

From Snowstorm to Thunderstorm

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 2 degrees was observed on March 3. The high temperature of 60 degrees was observed on March 28. Norfolk was nowhere near any temperature records this month, high or low. The average mean temperature this month was 32.4 degrees, 1.8 degrees above the March normal.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.80 inches, 1.69 inches below normal. March’s snowfall total was 14.2 inches, 4.2 inches below normal. At the weather station we lost our snow cover on March 29. There had been a continuous snow cover since December 17, 2008.

For the year 2009 through March the total precipitation amount is 8.52 inches, 3.66 inches below normal. The snowfall total for this same period is 56.9 inches, 2.7 inches below normal. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through March, is now at 78.9 inches. This is 5.6 inches below normal for this time period.

March came in like a lion with our largest snow event of the season starting in the late evening of March 1 and continuing into the afternoon of March 2. Overall the storm dumped a total of 12.7 inches of snow at the weather station. There were some higher totals recorded in other parts of Litchfield County. After this snowstorm we had relatively little snowfall for the rest of the month. We did not see any strong nor’easters this month. It is fairly common to be hit by at least one in March, often leaving Norfolk with some impressive snowfall totals. There was a thunderstorm with reports of hail during the evening of March 29.

This year both Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake lost their ice on March 30. This was almost two weeks earlier than last year, but about the same as in 2007. Typically the ice goes out between late March and the first or second week of April.

April 2009

Record Setting Warmth

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 26 degrees was observed on April 13 and the high temperature of 88 degrees was observed on April 28. There were four days with record setting high temperatures. The high temperatures of 85 on April 25, 82 on April 26 and 87 on April 27 all broke old record highs for these dates. The high temperature of 88 on April 28 tied the record high for that date. The average mean temperature this month was 46.6 degrees, 3.7 degrees above normal. Over the last 78 years this was Norfolk’s eighth warmest April. April 2008 was the third warmest.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.18 inches, 1.17 inches below normal. There were three minor thunderstorms observed, one on April 3 and two separate ones on April 22. With only a trace of snowfall this month we were 6.3 inches below normal for snowfall.

For the year 2009, the total precipitation amount is now 11.7 inches, 4.83 inches below normal. The snowfall total for this same period is 56.9 inches, 9 inches below normal. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through April, is now at 78.9 inches, which is 11.9 inches below normal.

Conditions were cooler and wetter than normal for the first half of the month, but it cleared out and warmed up to finish off the second half. The dry and warm weather briefly raised the forest fire danger level for a few days. Many people noticed that the grass greened up almost overnight on April 20. After four straight days of record setting warmth, April finished with freeze warnings being issued. In a span of about 13 hours, between the late afternoon of April 28 and the early morning of April 29, the temperature dropped from 88 degrees to 41 degrees. Good old New England weather.

May 2009

An Average May for Norfolk

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 31 degrees was observed on May 19. The high temperature of 84 degrees was observed on May 21. Interestingly, the month’s low and high temperatures occurred just about 57 hours apart. The average mean temperature this month was 55.2 degrees, just 0.6 degrees above the May normal.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 4.75 inches, just 0.4 inches above normal. For the 2009 calendar year, through May, the total precipitation amount is 16.45 inches, 4.43 inches below normal.

There was not even a trace of snowfall this month. The May normal snowfall amount is 0.4 inches. For the calendar year, through May, the total snowfall amount is 56.9 inches, 9.4 inches below normal. A final look at the 2008-09 winter season snowfall amount shows that Norfolk recorded 78.9 inches from October through May. This is 12.3 inches below normal. The last measurable snowfall came way back on March 9 and since then we have only had trace amounts through April and none in May.

On May 7, 9 and 16 there was some thunder accompanying rain events, but no big thunder and lightning storms were observed. We did have a number of cool evenings during the middle part of the month. Frost was seen at the weather station during the early morning of May 19, when some lower elevation locations around town dipped into the mid to upper 20’s. The weather was beautiful for everyone for Norfolk’s Memorial Day parade and road race.

June 2009

Near Record Rainfall

By Russell Russ

June was a cloudy, cool and wet month with temperatures below average and rainfall amounts at near record levels. Out of June’s 30 days there were 22 days with measurable rainfall. There were only two days that were classified as mostly clear. It definitely was not a typical summer month for Norfolk.

The month’s low temperature of 36 degrees was observed on June 1 and the high temperature of 80 degrees was observed on June 25. There were no individual days with temperature records this month, but it was the sixteenth coolest month of June in the last 78 years. The average mean temperature this month was 61.7 degrees, 1.6 degrees below normal. There was only one day with a high temperature at or above 80 degrees.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 9.53 inches, an impressive 4.83 inches above normal. It was the second wettest month of June in the last 78 years, surpassed only by June 1986 which recorded 10.41 inches. There were six thunderstorms observed at the station this month. One of the thunderstorms during the evening of June 15 produced a trace amount of pea-sized hail at the station. There were reports near Wangum Lake of a substantial ground covering of hail from that particular storm.

For the year 2009, through June, the total precipitation amount was 25.98 inches, 0.40 inches above normal. Through May we were 4.43 inches below normal.

July 2009

Another cool and very wet summer month

By Russell Russ

With 18 of 31 days recording measurable rainfall and only four days that were classified as being mostly clear, it was another cloudy, cool and very wet month. It was Norfolk’s second consecutive summer month with near record cool temperatures and near greatest amounts of rainfall.

The month’s low temperature 46 degrees was observed on July 13. The high temperature of 82 was observed on June 28. The average mean temperature this month was 65.1 degrees, 2.9 degrees below normal. There were no individual days with record temperatures, but it was the fifth coolest month of July in the last 78 years. There was only one day with a high temperature at or above 80 degrees.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 8.84 inches, 4.59 inches above normal. It was the fourth wettest month of July in the last 78 years. Norfolk’s wettest July on record was in 1996 with 11.47 inches. There were nine thunderstorms observed at the station this month. For the year 2009, through July, the total precipitation amount was 34.82 inches. Through July we are now 4.99 inches above normal.

Our official way of recording rainfall for the National Weather Service is to include monthly rainfall up to 8:00 a.m. on the last day of the month. Taking into account the rain that fell during the late morning to afternoon of July 31 the monthly total for July would have (could have) been 10.41 inches. It would have (could have) been the second wettest July on record, but officially it ended up as the fourth wettest. Don’t even ask why it is recorded this way, it is just how the government requires us to do it.

The summer of 2009 did break one rainfall record, and it doesn’t matter how you total it up, it still was the wettest June and July monthly combination in the last 78 years. With an official combined rainfall total of 18.37 inches it was the wettest June and July combination on record. It surpassed 1945 with 17.91 inches, 1986 with 17.31 inches and 2000 with 16.72 inches. If it is your summer vacation it is obviously not the best record to break.

August 2009

Finally some summer weather

By Russell Russ

With one month to go in the summer season we finally got some summer-like weather. If you were missing those hot, humid days of summer you finally got to enjoy some this month. Has global warming reduced Norfolk’s summer down to just one month? Does global warming have anything to do with it? These are very good questions that make for great conversations and give writers a great deal to write about. It seems that there are many opinions, but so far no definitive answers.

The month’s low temperature of 47 degrees was observed on August 8. The high temperature of 86 was observed on August 17. The average mean temperature this month was 68.0 degrees, 1.8 degrees above normal. We haven’t been above normal since May when we were just barely above normal. There were no individual days with record temperatures, but we did see 12 days with temperatures at or above 80 degrees. On average Norfolk reaches 90 or above 2.5 times per year. This typically occurs in July or August. The highest temperature recorded this year was 88 degrees and that occurred on April 28.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 5.69 inches, 1.16 inches above normal. August’s rainfall was above average, but not record setting by any means. There were only four thunderstorms observed at the station this month. For the year 2009 through August, the total precipitation amount was 40.51 inches, 6.15 inches above normal.

Norfolk’s June and July combined rainfall total of 18.37 inches made it the wettest June and July combination in the last 78 years. Norfolk’s June, July and August total was 24.06 inches, third wettest on record for that period. This summer was only surpassed by 1986 (24.32) and 1955 (27.91). The record setting summer of 1955 was quite dry until August weighed in with The Flood of ’55. The August total alone that year was 23.67 inches, still to this day, by far the record rainfall for any month.

For some perspective, with 18.51 inches recorded for June, July and August, it was Albany, NY’s third wettest summer dating back to 1826. Other regional summer amounts were Hartford, CT (20.29), Poughkeepsie, NY (20.47), Pittsfield, MA (23.01) and Bennington, VT (17.98). The summer of 2009 was definitely a wet one for the entire Northeast.

September 2009

First frost of the season

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 78 degrees was observed on September 4. The low temperature of 38 degrees was observed on both September 20 and 26. The average mean temperature this month was 57.8 degrees, just 0.9 degree below normal. The first frost of the season came on the morning of September 20 when it was seen in scattered low lying locations. There was also scattered frost on September 21 and a more widespread frost on September 26.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.33 inches, exactly half the normal amount for September. For the year 2009 through September, the total precipitation amount was 42.84 inches, which is 3.82 inches above normal.

After a long, wet summer it was nice to have a break from all the rain. We had our fair share of warm, pleasant days this month. There were no late summer heat waves that we can sometimes see in early September. The cooler temperatures and shorter hours of daylight once again brought on the fall colors. Some people were saying that the fall foliage would be spectacular this year due to the wet summer. We did see good coloring early, which lasted through the end of the month. Perhaps the maples let us down a little this year, but has there ever been a bad foliage year? Some people would say definitely not, they are all spectacular. Was this year any different than previous years? By mid October we will know the answer.

October 2009

First Snow of the Season

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 29 degrees was observed on October 15. The high temperature of 68 degrees was observed on October 22. The average mean temperature this month was 45.1 degrees, 2.5 degrees below the October normal. No temperature records were set this month.

Similar to last October, we had numerous days throughout the month with frost. The first real hard freeze came on October 14, about a week earlier than last year.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 4.81 inches, 0.61 inches above normal. Our first snowfall of the season came on October 15. By the end of the day there was about a 0.5 inch covering. During the early morning of October 16 there was 2.5 inches on the ground. The monthly snowfall total was 2.5 inches, 1.9 inches above the October normal. This is not a large amount of snow, but it was the fifth snowiest October in the last 78 years. Snowfall in October is not all that uncommon here in Norfolk, but anything over 2 inches is something special. The record snowfall for October came in 1987 when 9.5 inches fell.

For the 2009 calendar year, through October, the total precipitation amount is 47.65 inches, 4.43 inches above normal. It is getting to that time of year so snowfall amounts will again be included here. The total snowfall for the year 2009, through October, is 59.4 inches. We are 7.5 inches below normal for the calendar year.

After six years with nice, warm weather for Halloween we finally had some rain to contend with while trick-or-treating. The rain held off for a while, but by 7:30 p.m. it started to come down at a steady rate.

November 2009

Third Warmest November on Record

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 23 degrees was observed on November 7 and the high temperature of 66 degrees was observed on November 9. The average mean temperature was 42.5 degrees, which was 5.6 degrees above normal, making it the third warmest November over the last 78 years. This November’s warmth was only surpassed by that of 2006 with an average temperature of 43.2 degrees and 2001 with an average of 43.1 degrees. Yes, the top three warmest Novembers have all occurred since 2001, but looking at the top ten warmest shows them occurring over a number of years ranging from the mid 1940’s up through 2009.

November’s total precipitation amount was 2.70 inches, 2.06 inches below normal. There were only two days with a trace of snowfall observed, but no measurable amount of snow fell. It is fairly unusual to have a snowless November, but it is not unheard of over the years. The average November snowfall amount is 6.8 inches.

The total precipitation recorded so far for 2009 is 50.35 inches, 2.11 inches below the normal yearly amount. Comparing this to an average year through the month of November we are currently 2.37 inches above normal. It is looking like a fairly normal year as far as precipitation is concerned.

For the 2009 calendar year through November the station has recorded 59.4 inches of snow. With just one month to go in the year we are 31.8 inches below our normal yearly amount. Through the month of November we are 14.3 inches below our average snowfall amount. It is looking like another year with below normal snowfall totals.

For being such a warm month it was not an overly sunny one. There were a handful of sunny days, but overall it was mostly a cloudy month. By late November last year we saw many smaller ponds frozen over with just the larger ponds staying open. Not this year. It looks like we will have to wait until December or later to see any ice this year.

December 2009

Average month closes average year

By Russell Russ

The last month of 2009 was fairly average all the way around. The month’s high temperature of 60 degrees was observed on December 3. This was a record high temperature for that date, beating the old record of 58 degrees set in 2001. The low temperature of 2 degrees was observed on December 18. The average mean temperature was 24.6 degrees, which was just 0.7 degree below normal. With numerous windy cold days, the second half of the month felt much colder than the first half. Wind chill temperatures hit 15 and 16 degrees below zero at times.

December’s total precipitation amount was 5.35 inches, 0.87 inches above normal. The monthly snowfall total of 17.6 inches was very near normal, being just 0.1 inch above normal. The largest snowfall of the month, and season so far, was the 7 inches that fell during the morning of December 9. Interestingly, that storm ended with a brief late afternoon thunderstorm and short rain shower. The snowfall total for this winter season to date, October through December, is 20.1 inches. This is 4.8 inches below the normal for this time period.

Monthly weather highlights include a beautiful bright rainbow that showed up around 8:00 a.m. on December 3. There was a large 36 degree temperature swing between 6:00 a.m. December 2 and 6:00 a.m. December 3, peaking at the monthly high of 60 degrees. Many smaller ponds, including Pond Hill Pond, iced over on December 8 while Wangum Lake and Tobey Pond iced over on December 18 and 19 respectively. By the end of the month Tobey had a good 7 inches of ice. Last year both Tobey and Wangum iced over on December 18. And, not to be forgotten was the New Year’s Eve blue moon which was unfortunately mostly cloud covered for most of the evening.

In review of Norfolk’s weather for the 2009 calendar year it was an average year for the most part. The yearly mean temperature was 44.9 degrees, just 0.2 degree above average. The yearly total precipitation amount was 55.70 inches. This was 3.20 inches above normal and 12.51 inches below the 2008 yearly total. Snowfall for the year totaled 77.0 inches, exactly the same amount of snow as was recorded for 2008. This was 14.1 inches below the yearly average, but by no means a record for least amount of yearly snowfall.

Here are the averages over the last ten year period, 2000 through 2009, with our overall 78 year averages shown in parenthesis for comparison. Yearly mean temperature was 46.0 degrees (44.7 degrees). Yearly total precipitation amount was 54.01 inches (52.50 inches). Yearly snowfall amount was 73.2 inches (91.1 inches).