A Look Back at Norfolk’s 2021 Weather

By Russell Russ

Norfolk’s weather for 2021 was interesting. Isn’t the weather always interesting? What rightly first comes to mind when remembering 2021’s weather is how wet it was during the summer and fall. What also might come to mind is the relative lack of snowfall. Digging deeper, Norfolk residents might remember how lousy the weather was for some of our holidays. Weather for Memorial Day and Independence Day was cool and wet and not very summer-like. Labor Day was not that nice either, but at least it was not as gloomy as the others. Thanks to an overnight light coating of snow, Norfolk did just barely squeak out a white Christmas, but the snow was gone very soon after. To finish out the year, between Christmas and New Year’s, we saw several dreary days with fog, drizzle, rain and freezing rain.

Temperatures were above normal for most of 2021. Ten of twelve months came in as warmer than normal. Three months (August, October and December) were ranked in the top ten for warmth. There were eight days during the year that set new record daily high temperatures. There was one day that set a new record daily low temperature. The coldest day of the year was on January 29 with a low temperature of minus 2 degrees. That was the only day of 2021 with a below zero temperature. The warmest day of the year was on June 29 with a high of 91 degrees. Norfolk hit 90 degrees or above just two times during the year. It was 91 on June 29 and 90 on June 30. This is about average for Norfolk. It was quite cloudy and rainy for a good part of July through October, likely keeping temperatures lower than they might have been had there been a little more sunshine. With an average yearly mean temperature of 47.3 degrees, the year ended up being Norfolk’s 8th warmest over the last 90 years. The warmest year was in 2012 with 48.5 degrees and the coolest was in 1940 with 41.9 degrees.

Snowfall for the year was quite a bit below normal. The calendar year snowfall total of 59.1 inches ranked 2021 as Norfolk’s 10th least snowy year over the last 90 years. Seven of 2021’s eight “snow season months” were below normal for snowfall. Norfolk’s snowiest year was in 1956 with 175.1 inches and the least snowy was in 1998 with just 33.0 inches. The October 2020 – May 2021 winter season snowfall total was 77.6 inches. This was below normal, but not high ranking. Had it not been for February’s 35.0 inches, both the yearly and winter season snowfall totals would likely have been in the top three for least snowy. March, with just 0.1 inch of snowfall, was the least snowy March on record.

The yearly total precipitation amount of 60.00 inches was 7.47 inches above normal, ranking it as the 16th wettest year over the last 90 years. Seven months were above normal and five were below normal, but the months that were above were considerably above. The year started out dry and by the end of April the precipitation deficit was 5.63 inches. The deficit was 5.02 inches after June. Then came the rains. July with 13.05 inches was Norfolk’s wettest July on record. It was also the 8th wettest month of any month over the last 90 years. August through October were also above normal. At the close of October, the year’s surplus peaked at 11.24 inches. The weather then changed and November and December were below normal. We were flirting with top 10 for wettest year until the final two months of the year. Norfolk’s wettest year was in 2011 with 77.28 inches and the driest was in 1965 with 33.89 inches.