A Look Back at Norfolk’s 2023 Weather

By Russell Russ

With an average yearly mean temperature of 48.4 degrees, 3.4 degrees above
normal, 2023 was tied with 1998 as Norfolk’s second warmest year over the last 92
years. Eight of twelve months came in as warmer than normal. Six months were
ranked in the top ten for warmth. Most notably, January was the warmest on record
and December ranked as second warmest. July was tied as the sixth warmest July,
but also ranked as Norfolk’s seventh warmest month of any month on record.
There were eleven days that set or tied daily high temperature records. Those
record highs occurred in the months of January, February, April, September and
October. There were two days that set daily low temperature records. Those were
in February and May. Perhaps the most notable, or surprising, record temperatures
all year were minus 17 degrees on February 4, followed soon after by 50 on
February 10, 54 on February 17 and then 83 on April 13 and 87 on April 14.
During all of 2023, there were just two days in the single digits and one day below
zero, all in February. The coldest day was February 4 with minus 17 and the
warmest was June 2 with 89 degrees. At the weather station this year, there were
no days at or above 90 degrees. Norfolk’s warmest year was in 2012 with 48.5
degrees and the coolest was in 1940 with 41.9 degrees.
The yearly total precipitation amount of 69.01 inches was 16.48 inches above
normal. It was Norfolk’s fifth wettest year on record. Seven months were below
average, and five months were above average. The ones that were above were well
above. Four months were high ranking for wettest months (January, July,
September and December), but there were also two months (February and
November) that ranked high for driest. At the start of July, Norfolk was 2.09 inches
below normal for the year. By the end of September, we were 15.36 inches above.
July’s rainfall total was 15.53 inches and September’s was 11.33 inches. Yes, it
was a very wet summer. By far, the most notable rain event of the year was the
excessive rainfall from July 9-10 when the weather station recorded nearly seven
inches of rain and the South Norfolk area reportedly measured ten to possibly even
twelve inches. Over the station’s long history, three-to-four-inch rainfalls occur
occasionally, but more than six inches from one storm is highly irregular – and
very destructive. Norfolk’s wettest year was in 2011 with 77.28 inches and the
driest was in 1965 with 33.89 inches.
Snowfall for the year was yet again below normal. With a total snowfall amount of
56.3 inches, 32.8 inches below normal, it was Norfolk’s ninth least snowy year.
Every winter snow season month except March was below normal for snowfall.

Had it not been for March’s valiant effort of 31.3 inches of snowfall, 2023 very
likely would have been near the top for least snowfall for a year. Six of Norfolk’s
top nine least snowy years have been recorded over the last twenty years (since
2004). The current 2023-24 winter season is not doing any better. Through mid-
January, we are 17.3 inches below normal for snowfall. For the most part, we are
getting precipitation, it just is not coming in the form of snow as much as it used
to. Norfolk’s snowiest year was in 1956 with 175.1 inches and the least snowy was
in 1998 with just 33.0 inches.
Norfolk’s weather can be beautiful, and it can be awful. Weather will change day
to day and month to month, but one constant is that it will be observed and
recorded every day. Weather observations and record keeping are performed by
Russell Russ for the National Weather Service and Great Mountain Forest at
Norfolk’s National Weather Service Cooperative Weather Observer Station,
Norfolk 2SW.