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Past Narratives - 2011

January 2011

Record Snowfall

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 55 degrees was observed on January 1. The low temperature of minus 14 degrees was observed on January 24. This was a record low for that date, beating the old record of minus 11 degrees set back in 1948. The average mean temperature this month was 19.0 degrees, 1.7 degrees below the January average.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.75 inches, 0.31 inches below normal. If you do not like snow then stop reading here because this month was all about snow. January’s snowfall total was a very impressive 50.0 inches, 29 inches above normal and it was record setting. While a number of locations throughout the state recorded their snowiest January, and in some cases their snowiest of any month, Norfolk came close, but still fell just a little short of reaching its snowiest on record. It was Norfolk’s second snowiest January and the fourth snowiest of any month since we began keeping records in 1932.

During the big storm on January 12 a snowfall total of 21.7 inches was measured at the station. Snowfall totals varied widely throughout the region and the state. In an odd twist, central Connecticut recorded more snowfall in a number of storms this month. Typically Litchfield County and Norfolk in particular, receive higher snowfall amounts than other parts of the state.

Here are Norfolk’s top six snowiest months, with snowfall measured in inches: March 1956, 73.6; February 1969, 52.4; January 1987, 50.5; January 2011, 50.0; February 1967, 48.4; January 1961, 48.1.

Twenty of the month’s thirty-one days saw precipitation and just about all of it was the frozen kind. There was snow on the ground at the station every day this month, with depths ranging from four to twenty-eight inches. We have had a continuous snow cover since December 14.

The snowfall total for this winter season (October through January) is now at 67.4 inches. This is 21.6 inches above normal and 32.1 inches above where we were through January last year. The heading for the January 2010 weather summary was “Where’s the Snow?”, but we certainly didn’t have to ask that question this year.

February 2011

Back to Normal

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of minus 2 degrees was observed on February 11. The high temperature of 54 degrees was observed on both February 17 and 18. On February 17 it was a record high temperature for that date, surpassing the old record of 52 set in 1981. The monthly average mean temperature was 22.2 degrees, 0.3 degree above normal. The month of February is typically when we get most of our lowest temperature readings, but this one was fairly tame.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 4.57 inches, 0.94 inch above normal. February’s snowfall total was 22.4 inches, 2.1 inches above normal. The month started out on a snowy note, making it seem like we were in for more of what January dished out, but after the first week the weather patterns changed. Norfolk was on the rainy side of most of the later storms. Last year February was the big snowfall month with a total of 35.3 inches. This year it was January’s turn. There was a deep snow cover on the ground at the station every day this month with depths ranging from 22 to 32 inches.

The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is 89.8 inches, 23.7 inches above normal. At the end of February we were just one inch below our normal entire season average.

So far, for the two months of 2011 we are at 72.4 inches of snowfall, 31.1 inches above normal, and 8.32 inches for total precipitation, 0.63 inch above normal. Norfolk’s 80 year averages are 90.8 inches of snowfall per year and 52.55 inches of total precipitation per year.

Snow core measurements were taken several times during the month to determine the amount of water that was sitting on the ground in the form of snow and ice. February 7 with 28 inches of snow on the ground contained 6.9 inches of water. February 15 with 27 inches of snow contained 7.5 inches of water. February 27 with 26 inches of snow contained 7.9 inches of water. These figures show nearly two months worth of water sitting on the ground. This will become very important to forecasters as we approach the spring thaw.

March 2011

Winter holding on

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on March 3. The high temperature of 61 degrees was observed on March 18. No temperature records were set this month. The average mean temperature was 31.3 degrees, 0.7 degree above normal. Last year was Norfolk’s third warmest March on record and five of our ten warmest Marches have occurred since 1995, but this year was just about normal as far as temperatures go.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 6.80 inches, 2.29 inches above normal. It was the eleventh wettest March in the last 80 years. The wettest March was in 1953 when 10.37 inches were measured. This March may have been a wet one, but last year was even wetter. Last March with 7.51 inches was the sixth wettest March on record.

March’s snowfall total was only 4.9 inches, 13.2 inches below normal. It was Norfolk’s eighth lowest March snowfall total. The record for least snowfall in March was in 1946 when only half an inch fell. Last year was the fifth least amount of snow recorded in March, with just 2.7 inches falling. Five of our ten least snowy Marches have occurred since 1995.

We can get some rather large snowfall totals in March, and you don’t have to go that far back to find them. We received over 30 inches of snow in both 2005 and 2001. Our greatest monthly snowfall for any month came in March of 1956 when 73.6 inches fell. Oh, what a fickle month March can be.

Although many locations lost snow cover by the middle of the month, there was snow on the ground at the weather station everyday in March with depths ranging from 24 inches down to nine inches. Most local lakes and larger ponds were still ice covered throughout the month. In 2009 and 2010, we lost our snow cover and pond ice by mid to late March.

The snowfall total for this winter season, October through March, is now at 94.7 inches, 10.5 inches above normal and 3.9 inches above our average entire season amount. For the first quarter of 2010 we are 17.9 inches above normal for snowfall and 2.92 inches above normal for total precipitation. As far as groundwater is concerned, we are off to a good start in 2011.

April 2011

Winter comes to a close

By Russell Russ

April was our third consecutive month with above average precipitation totals. It sure seemed wet, cloudy and cool for most of the month. Where was spring this year? We finally started to get a taste of it near the end of the month. It took a while, but the long, cool grasp of winter finally let go.

The month’s low temperature of 25 degrees was observed on April 9. The high temperature of 82 degrees was observed on April 26. The high temperature of 82 on April 26 tied the 2009 record high for that. The average mean temperature this month was 45.8 degrees, 2.8 degrees above normal. April 2010 was Norfolk’s warmest April on record, but this year it was just a little above normal.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 6.22 inches, 1.92 inches above normal. There was some form of precipitation recorded on twenty-one of the thirty days this month and most of it was in the form of rain. Thunderstorms were observed on April 26 and 28, but the heaviest rains came without thunder on April 16 and 17 when 2.59 inches fell in nearly 12 hours. There was 3.7 inches of snowfall during the month, 2.5 inches below normal. It is unusual, but not unheard of, to have no snow at all during the month of April.

The snowfall total for this winter season, October through April, is now at 98.4 inches, 8 inches above normal. As is fairly typical for Norfolk, the snowiest months were December, January and February. March was a bit of a disappointment with regards to snowfall this year. Had it not been for January being 29 inches above normal we would have been back to our usual below normal for snowfall that we have been recording regularly over that last ten to fifteen years. For the calendar year through one third of 2011 the snowfall total of 81 inches is 15.4 inches above normal.

Although many locations lost a continuous snow cover by the middle of March, at the station there was snow on the ground up to April 10. Many small ponds lost their ice early in the month, but Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake held on until April 12. Over the previous two years we lost our snow cover and pond ice by mid to late March. Old Man Winter held on a little longer this year.

May 2011

A Cloudy May

By Russell Russ

In late April it seemed that we turned the tide and finally entered early summer, but most of May was similar to most of April with cool and cloudy weather. It was difficult to get more than one nice day in a row during most of the month. Was the cool weather ever going to break? It finally did during the later half of the month and we warmed up and cleared out a little.

The month’s low temperature of 37 degrees was observed on both May 1 and 2. The high temperature of 84 degrees was observed on May 27. May seemed cooler than normal, and remained so for most of the month, but it actually ended up being just a little above normal. The average mean temperature this month was 57.3 degrees, 2.7 degrees above the May normal. The warmest May on record was in 1991 with an average mean temperature of 59.7 degrees.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 4.29 inches, just 0.05 inches below normal. A majority of the month’s rain fell between May 16 and May 21. It was our first month with below normal precipitation (just barely) since January. For the 2010 calendar year, through May, the total precipitation amount was 25.63 inches, 4.79 inches above normal. There were four thunderstorms, including one that occurred during the morning of Memorial Day. This unfortunately resulted in Norfolk’s annual Memorial Day Parade being held without any marching bands. The storm passed and the rain had stopped by 9 a.m., but by then it was too late.

There was not even a trace of snowfall this month. This is a little unusual, but not unheard of. May’s average snowfall amount is 0.4 inches. For the calendar year, through May, the total snowfall amount was 81.0 inches, 15.0 inches above normal. A final look at the 2010-11 winter season snowfall amount shows that Norfolk recorded 98.4 inches from November through April. This is 7.6 inches above normal. January alone added 50.0 inches to these totals. It is a bit hard to believe, but the last time we saw more than about three inches of snowfall was way back in early February.

June 2011

Thunderstorms Galore

By Russell Russ

June was about average temperature-wise and above average for precipitation. No records were set this month for either temperature or precipitation. It was not really a good month for gardens and definitely not good for trying to get hay out of the fields. Last June was great for growers, but this year was a bit of a struggle.

The month’s low temperature of 43 degrees was observed on June 4 and the high temperature of 87 degrees was observed on both June 1 and 8. The average mean temperature was 64.2 degrees, 0.9 degree above normal. It was not as warm as last year, but was still much warmer than June 2009. On a historical note, the highest temperature ever recorded at the weather station was 101 degrees recorded on June 29, 1933.

The total precipitation for the month was 7.39 inches, 2.64 inches above normal. There were nine thunderstorms observed at the weather station this month. Hail was observed three times, twice in one day.

Strong thunderstorms just over the Massachusetts border during the late afternoon of June 1 produced several tornadoes in the Springfield area. The strongest storm formed near Canaan, went just north of Norfolk, and really strengthened over central Massachusetts. It is unusual to have such strong tornadoes in New England.

A thunderstorm during the afternoon of June 9 produced some of the largest hail that has been recorded in many years here in Norfolk. Hailstones up to one and a half inches in diameter, or ping pong ball size as the National weather Service categorizes them, were observed in numerous locations in town, including at the weather station. Wind damage associated with this storm knocked the power out in several locations around town. Many other towns experienced wind damage which delayed the power company’s response time for Norfolk repairs.

Through June this year, the total precipitation amount was 33.02 inches. This is 7.43 inches above normal. We are still doing very well in the groundwater department.

July 2011

Turning Up The Heat

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 50 degrees was observed on July 1 and the high temperature of 93 degrees was observed on July 22. The average mean temperature was 70.8 degrees, 2.8 degrees above normal. It was the sixth warmest July in the last 80 years. Last year July was the third warmest at 71.5 degrees. The warmest July occurred in 1955, with 72.1 degrees.

Two daily temperature records were set this month. The high of 91 degrees on July 21 tied the record high from 1957 for that same date. The high temperature of 93 degrees on July 22 was another record, surpassing the old one of 90 degrees also set in 1957.

Typically, on average, Norfolk gets a temperature of 90 degrees or higher, 2.5 times per year. So far, we have done it twice this year. Amazingly, Norfolk has recorded daily high temperatures of 93 degrees or higher only 22 times over the last 80 years. It has been 95 degrees or higher on just seven days.

There were four thunderstorms observed at the weather station this month, none were severe and none produced hail. The total precipitation for the month was 2.74 inches, 1.57 inches below normal. It was the first month this year that we’ve been significantly below normal. Through July this year, the total yearly precipitation amount is 35.76 inches. This is 5.86 inches above normal.

August 2011

Big League Rain

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 84 degrees was observed on August 1 and the low temperature of 49 degrees was observed on both August 23 and 30. The average mean temperature was 67.2 degrees, just one degree above normal. It is surprising that the temperatures were fairly normal considering the numerous cloudy and rainy days we had in August.

The big news this August was the rain. We were headed for an above average precipitation month anyway and then came Irene. The total precipitation for the month was 13.36 inches, a whopping 8.83 inches above normal. It was Norfolk’s fifth wettest month, of any month of the year, since we began recording observations in January 1932. The wettest month still remains August 1955 when we recorded 23.67 inches. We did not come close to that record, but we did come very close to the September 1938 monthly total of 13.40 inches. It is definitely saying something when you can compare this August with the month that included The Great Hurricane of ’38.

Hurricane Irene hit the coast of North Carolina and ran right up the east coast causing widespread flooding and damage all the way to Vermont. Turning into a tropical storm just prior to hitting the Connecticut coast, Irene still packed a punch with heavy rains which flooded or washed out many roads. The power was out just a few hours for some, but many days for others. We were on the rainy side of the storm, so fortunately missed most of the high winds. The rainfall total during the 24-hour period from 12 p.m. August 27 to 12 p.m. August 28 was 7.39 inches. This was less than a 24-hour total of 10.67 inches recorded during Diane, the second of two hurricanes that hit Norfolk in August 1955, but more than the 5.89 inches that were recorded during a 24-hour period during The Great Hurricane of ’38. In all, Irene dumped 7.71 inches over a span of 27 hours.

Through August this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 49.12 inches. This is 14.69 inches above normal through August. With four months to go until the end of the year, we are currently just 3.43 inches away from our average amount for the entire year. With hurricane season in full swing, we may reach our normal yearly total before the leaves start to fall. This year has the potential to be one of the wettest years on record for Norfolk.

September 2011

Warm and Wet

By Russell Russ

The month’s high temperature of 81 degrees was observed on September 3 and the low temperature of 38 degrees was observed on both September 17 and 19. The average mean temperature was 63.1 degrees, 4.4 degrees above normal. This September was the third warmest September in the last 80 years. In fact, five of the six warmest Septembers on record have occurred in the last 11 years. The high temperature of 78 degrees on September 27 was a record for that date, beating the 1933 record of 76 degrees. The first frost of the season came on September 19 when many low lying areas saw just a touch of frost.

The big news again this month was the rain. Normally, any given month will have scattered rain throughout the month with one, maybe two, separate larger events. There were three periods during September which produced heavy rainfall totals. Tropical Storm Lee which brought heavy prolonged rain to the southern Gulf States slowly moved over our area and dumped a total of 6.90 inches of rain between September 5 and 8. Another round of rain between September 21 and 24 produced 2.31 inches. Then another slow moving system came in between September 28 and 30 and dumped another 3.98 inches. On the morning of September 29 Norfolk received just over 2 inches in two hours and to top it off, a very heavy downpour during the evening of September 30 dumped one inch in just 15 minutes. There were five thunderstorms observed this month, three were on September 29.

The total precipitation for the month was 13.25 inches, 8.64 inches above normal. It was Norfolk’s sixth wettest month, of any month of the year, since we’ve been recording observations. August 2011 was the fifth wettest month. weather observations have been recorded here for 957 months; we just recorded the fifth and sixth wettest months back to back.

Through September this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 62.37 inches. This is 23.33 inches above normal through the month of September. With three months to go until the end of the year, we are currently 9.82 inches above our average amount for the entire year. It already is the tenth wettest year over the last 80 years and we still have three months to go. If we get just a little above average precipitation over the final months of the year then 2011 will have a strong chance of becoming the wettest year on record.

October 2011

Historic October Snowfall

By Russell Russ

The wild and crazy weather patterns are getting wilder and crazier. Following two months of way above normal rainfall and above normal temperatures, in came October with record breaking snowfall. No temperature or total precipitation records were set this month, but the old record for October snowfall was absolutely shattered. With many maples dropping their leaves early and heavy snow in late October it almost seemed like we had the year without a fall. For the people that say there are never any bad foliage years this year might have proven them wrong.

The month’s high temperature of 73 degrees was observed on October 10 and the low temperature of 23 degrees was observed on October 31. The average mean temperature was 49.1 degrees, 1.5 degrees above normal. With one light frost in September and three light frosts in October there were just four frosts before the first snow fell.

The total precipitation for the month was 6.58 inches, 2.30 inches above normal. Through October this year, the total precipitation amount was 68.95 inches. For the first ten months of the year we were an amazing 25.63 inches above normal. After ten months we were 16.40 inches over our normal entire yearly average amount of 52.55 inches. The year of 2011, through October, is already the fourth wettest year in the last 80 years. Norfolk’s record amount of total precipitation for a year was from 1955 when 76.04 inches were recorded. Total precipitation includes rain and frozen precipitation. Snow and sleet is melted down to liquid and that amount is added to the total precipitation amount.

This year it seems like every month has some sort of big weather event. This month’s big event was the record breaking snowfall. To put things in perspective, here are some snowfall statistics for October. Observations have been recorded here for 80 years. The number of years when October has measured at least 2 inches of snow is thirteen, at least 3 inches of snow is four, and over 10 inches of snow is only one. The 80 year average for October is just 0.6 inches.

This month a total snowfall of 23.8 inches was recorded. There were 2.5 inches from the October 27 snow and then 21.3 inches from the October 29-30 storm. Our old October snowfall record of 9.5 inches from the October 4, 1987 storm was more than doubled. Unlike many other towns, our snow was just a bit lighter which spared us from the heavy tree damage that took place in numerous areas across the state. Due to downed trees, branches and power lines, mostly not in Norfolk, the power was knocked out for two to four days for most people in Norfolk and its surrounding towns. It was definitely an October that will be remembered for many years to come.

Update for the month of October:

Record breaking snowfall for October! This October shattered records for snowfall. Snow fell on two occasions this month. A snowfall amount of 2.5” was measured after the October 27th event and a snowfall amount of 21.3” was measured after the October 29th-30th event. Snow measurement was extremely difficult, but believe me, many different measurements were taken to come up with the official totals. The big storm began around noontime Saturday, October 29th and ended at approximately 4 am on Sunday, October 30th. The old record for most snow in an October storm and for the October monthly total was 9.5” from the October 4, 1987 event. We also recorded 6.8” from a storm on October 10, 1979, the other big snowy October for Norfolk.

So, the snowstorm total of 21.3” is the new record and the monthly snowfall total of 23.8” is the new monthly record for October. Our records go back 80 years.

2011 continues its quest to become the wettest year in our 80 year history here at the weather station. With October’s 6.58” of total precipitation the yearly total is now 68.95”. Currently the 4th wettest year on record, with two whole months to go. If we get just the average amount of precipitation in November and December we will beat the old record of 76.04” (1955) by over two inches. The total precipitation figure includes rain, sleet and snow. The snow or sleet is melted and then measured and that liquid amount goes towards the total precipitation amount.

November 2011

Warm and Quiet

By Russell Russ

The wild and crazy weather patterns that we’ve experienced since August have seemed to calm down, for now anyway. November was a quiet month weather-wise. This November was tied with 2009 as the third warmest November over the last 80 years. With respect to temperature, total precipitation and snow it was very similar to November 2009. November 2010 was different only in that it was more normal (cooler) in monthly average temperature.

The month’s low temperature of 24 degrees was observed on both October 1 and 6 and the high temperature of 64 degrees was observed on October 9. The average mean temperature was 42.5 degrees, 5.5 degrees above normal. Record daily high temperatures were recorded on two dates. The high of 60 degrees on November 28 surpassed the 58 degrees set back in 1957 and the high of 59 degrees on November 29 surpassed the 57 degrees set back in both 1960 and 1984. The only Novembers to be warmer over the last 80 years were November 2006 with 43.2 degrees and November 2001 with 43.1 degrees.

The total precipitation for the month was 3.00 inches, 1.72 inches below normal. Through November this year, the total precipitation amount was 71.95 inches. For the first eleven months of the year we were 23.91 inches above normal and 19.40 inches over our normal entire yearly average amount of 52.55 inches. The year of 2011, through November, is already the third wettest year in the last 80 years. Norfolk’s record amount of total precipitation for a year was in 1955 when 76.04 inches were recorded. The second most was in 1996 when 73.76 inches were recorded. Doing the math, 2011 will go down as the wettest year on record for our station if we record 4.10 inches or more of total precipitation in December. The December average is 4.51 inches.

This month a total snowfall of just 0.3 inches was recorded. This was 6.4 inches below our normal November snowfall amount, but not record setting by any means.

Through November, the yearly snowfall amount for 2011 was 105.1 inches. Thanks to January and October this was 31.8 inches above normal and 14.3 inches over our normal entire yearly average snowfall amount of 90.8 inches.

This November was much warmer than normal with below average total precipitation and snow. It has been said that November’s weather, especially the latter half of the month, is a good indicator of what the coming winter will be like. We shall see.

December 2011

Warm December closes out wettest year on record

By Russell Russ

December 2011 was tied with 1982 as the fifth warmest December in the last 80 years. With an average mean temperature of 32.5 degrees it was 7.2 degrees above normal. The month’s high temperature of 57 degrees was observed on December 6. The low temperature of 10 degrees was observed on December 19. No daily temperature records were set this month, but overall it was a warm month. The average monthly temperature from December 2010 was nearly 10 degrees colder.

December’s total precipitation amount was 5.33 inches, 0.82 inches above normal. The monthly snowfall total of 3.0 inches was 14.5 inches below normal. Strangely enough, Norfolk had a white Halloween, but we did not have a white Christmas. The snowfall total for this winter season to date, October through December, is 27.1 inches. Thanks primarily to October’s 23.8 inches; this is 2.3 inches above normal for this time period.

It was not an early pond ice year for the area. Many smaller ponds, including Pond Hill Pond and Wood Creek Pond iced over initially during the third week of December, but then lost it and got it back a few times until about December 27 or 28 when they iced over basically for the season. Last year the smaller ponds started forming ice in late November. The larger water bodies like Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake did not form ice at all in December. Last winter both were iced over by December 10 and by December 24 Tobey had a good six inches of ice. Not this winter.

The close of 2011 completed 80 consecutive years of weather recording for this weather station. In review of Norfolk’s weather for the 2011 calendar year it certainly was one for the record books. With an annual average mean temperature of 47.1 degrees it was 2.4 degrees above normal and tied with 1949 as the sixth warmest year on record. Last year was the fourth warmest year on record. The year of 2011 was also the wettest year in our 80 years of recording the weather. With a total precipitation amount of 77.28 inches it was 24.73 inches above the normal of 52.55 inches. It surpassed the long-standing 1955 record of 76.04 inches by 1.24 inches, quite impressive to say the least. Snowfall for the year totaled 108.1 inches. This was 17.3 inches above the yearly average of 90.8 inches, but by no means near a record for yearly snowfall.