Colder than average December closes out fourth warmest year on record
By Russell Russ
December 2010 was the coldest December we’ve seen since the year 2000. With an average mean temperature of 22.6 degrees it was 2.7 degrees below normal. The month’s high temperature of 55 degrees was observed on December 1. The low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on both December 10 and 17. With numerous cold and windy days, wind chill temperatures fell into the single digits many times and even below zero on several occasions.
December’s total precipitation amount was 6.20 inches, 1.72 inches above normal. The monthly snowfall total of 17.3 inches was very near normal, being just 0.2 inch below normal. If you are keeping track, Norfolk had about two inches of snow on the ground for Christmas, giving us just barely a white Christmas once again. The largest snowfall of the month, and season so far, was the 11.5 inches that fell December 26 and 27, during the so called Blizzard of 2010. Snowfall totals were extremely difficult to measure due to the blowing and drifting snow. Initial forecasts predicted up to two feet of snowfall, but in the end we got about half that. The snowfall total for this winter season to date, October through December, is 17.4 inches. This is 7.4 inches below the normal for this time period.
Many smaller ponds, including Pond Hill Pond, iced over for the season on December 6, two days earlier than last year. The smaller ponds initially iced up on November 28, but lost it with rain and warm temperatures on November 30. Wangum Lake iced over on December 9, nine days earlier than last year, and Tobey Pond iced over on December 10, also nine days earlier than last year. By December 24 Tobey was carrying about six inches of ice.
In review of Norfolk’s weather for the 2010 calendar year it was quite a bit warmer than normal, a little wetter than normal, but had less snow than normal. The yearly mean temperature was 47.4 degrees, 2.7 degrees above average. It was Norfolk’s fourth warmest year in the last 79 years. Only 1998 with 48.4 degrees, 2001 with 48.3 degrees, and 2006 and 2002 with 47.8 degrees were warmer years. The yearly total precipitation amount was 55.84 inches. This was 3.30 inches above normal and just 0.14 inch above the 2009 yearly total. Snowfall for the year totaled 70.6 inches. This was 20.3 inches below the yearly average and 6.4 inches below the 2009 yearly total, but by no means a record for least amount of yearly snowfall.
Most of the leaves had fallen by early in the month and for most of the month it was not quite cold enough for snow. November, as usual, was somewhere between fall and winter. It may have felt cold, but this November’s temperatures were just about average for this time of year in Norfolk. Except for a couple of really wet days there wasn’t much rain and there were only a few days with a light dusting of snow. No records were set for either temperature or precipitation. Basically your typical cool, cloudy and some would say dreary month of November.
The month’s high temperature of 60 degrees was observed on November 13 and the low temperature of 20 degrees was observed on November 29. The average mean temperature this month was 37.6 degrees, just 0.7 degree above normal. Except for a week’s worth of above average daily temperatures during the middle part of the month the temperatures over the entire month were fairly uniform.
It was cold enough on November 28 for some of the smaller local ponds to freeze over, but their ice went out on November 30 when temperatures topped 50 degrees. It is highly likely that November passed without providing any local pond ice skating opportunities.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.99 inches, 1.77 inches below normal. For the 2010 calendar year, through November, the total precipitation amount was 49.64 inches, 1.66 inches above normal.
The month of November average snowfall amount is 6.8 inches, but this November had five days with just flurries which all added up to only a trace amount. There was also one day with a little freezing rain and some sleet. The monthly total for snowfall was just 0.1 inch, which was in the form of sleet, not snow. The National weather Service includes sleet in their snowfall category. As of the end of November our 2010 snowfall total was 53.3 inches, 20.4 inches below normal. It is looking like another below average snowfall year. If December is a bust for snow this year we could easily be placing 2010 on Norfolk’s “top ten” list for least amount of yearly snowfall.
As predicted at the end of September, the early October rains did help put us back on the plus side for yearly precipitation levels. October was a wet and cooler than we’ve come accustomed to month. It was above average by far for rain and actually a little above normal for temperature.
The month’s low temperature of 32 degrees was observed on October 19 and our high temperature of 72 degrees was observed on October 26. The high of 72 degrees on October 26 was a record high for that date, beating the old record of 71 degrees set in 1963. The average mean temperature this month was 48.8 degrees, 1.2 degrees above normal. There were nine days with frost observed at the station. The first official frost of the season at the weather station occurred on October 10. Other areas around town may have reported earlier or additional days with frost, mostly low lying areas, but due to the station’s elevation it can sometimes have warmer temperatures on cool, calm fall mornings.
The official total precipitation recorded for the month was 9.50 inches, or 5.30 inches above normal. Determining final totals for October again could seem a bit confusing because heavy rains that fell during the last day of September actually get added to October’s total. Taking into account the 1.55 inches of rain that fell on September 30 between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight, the total for October could be considered by some to be just 7.95 inches, still an impressive figure that would have ranked it as tied with 1989 as the sixth wettest October. As it stands officially, with 9.50 inches, this October was the fifth wettest October in the last 79 years. The October 1955 record of 17.28 inches still stands as the wettest October on record.
We saw our first snow flurries of the season on October 22. It only lasted about three hours and didn’t accumulate, but it was snow. The average monthly snowfall for October is 0.6 inches. As of the end of October, the yearly precipitation total stands at 46.65 inches which is now 3.43 inches above normal. Now that we are in the season for snow we can once again look at the yearly snowfall total for 2010. As of the end of October we are at 53.2 inches for the year which is 13.7 inches below normal through October. Through October we are now 38.0 inches below our normal yearly average of 91.2 inches.
September truly was a month of transition. It began right where August left off, with warm temperatures and very dry conditions. Then, during the last week of the month, our weather pattern changed. In came the rain. Two big storms pumped in moisture from as far south as Florida and dumped record amounts of rain throughout the Northeast U.S. Parts of Connecticut, Norfolk included, picked up some impressive rain totals.
The month’s high temperature of 89 degrees was observed on September 2 and our low temperature of 38 degrees was observed on September 21. Norfolk flirted with record high temperatures during the first few days of the month and did set a new record for September 24 with a high temperature of 83, beating the old record of 81 set for this date in 1937. There were reports of scattered frost in the area during the morning of September 21, but no frost was observed at the weather station or in areas near it. The average mean temperature this month was 62.4 degrees, 3.7 degrees above normal. It was Norfolk’s fifth warmest September in the last 79 years. Four of the five warmest Septembers on record have occurred in the last ten years.
The official precipitation total recorded for the month was 3.36 inches, or 1.30 inches below normal. Determining final totals for September was difficult because heavy rains fell during the last day of the month. The National weather Service will record the total as 3.36 inches, but taking into account the rain that fell September 30 between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight, the total was 4.91 inches.
September’s lack of rain nearly set a record through the 27th. Then the rains came. A good eighty percent of the monthly rain came during the last four days of the month. About forty percent of the monthly rain came between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. on September 30. The rains continued into early October. October will have some serious rain totals. As of September 30, 2010, the yearly precipitation total stands at 37.15 inches, which is 1.87 inches below normal. October figures will most certainly bring us back to above normal levels for the year.
The month’s high temperature of 85 degrees was observed on August 9. The low temperature of 47 degrees was observed on August 28. The average mean temperature this month was 67.8 degrees, 1.6 degrees above the August normal.
Temperatures were fairly typical for August. There were thirteen days with temperatures at or above the 80 degree mark. There were no days at or above 90 degrees, and no days with record temperatures. There were some cooler days toward the end of the month, but we did not get a big cold snap as we frequently can get during the month of August.
The weather station, on average, gets to 90 degrees or above 2.5 times per year. This year at the station the temperature broke 90 degrees twice, both in July. By contrast, at the end of August the official station at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks had 31 days at or above 90 degrees for the year. Bradley Airport’s average is 18 days per year, their record is 38 days. As many of us know, there is a big temperature difference between Norfolk and Bradley Airport (and Hartford). The proof is in the numbers.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.90 inches, 0.63 inch below normal. It seemed like a dry month, but it ended up being only a little below normal. A majority of the monthly rain came in only a handful of days, with only three thunderstorms observed at the station this month. For the 2010 calendar year, through August, the total precipitation amount is 33.79 inches, 0.57 inch below normal.
As is typical for Norfolk, there was some coloring starting to show in the trees around the second week of August. By the end of the month there was noticeable coloring in many locations around town. Autumn is just around the corner.
June was close to average weather-wise. No records were set for either temperature or precipitation. It was a great month for fruit and vegetable growing. Many plants were nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. Compared to last year, this June was a real gem for growers.
The month’s low temperature of 43 degrees was observed on June 9 and the high temperature of 86 degrees was observed on June 24. The average mean temperature was 65.8 degrees, 2.5 degrees above normal and 4.1 degrees above last June’s average. In June 2009, we reached 80 degrees just once. This year we topped 80 degrees ten times and reached 79 degrees five times.
The total precipitation for the month was 4.32 inches, 0.38 inch below normal. There were seven thunderstorms observed at the weather station this month. None were severe in strength. Through June this year, the total precipitation amount was 26.16 inches, 0.58 inch above normal. Just about average.
July, on the other hand, was a record setter for warmth. There were no individual daily records, but as a month it was the third warmest July in the last 79 years. Only July 1955 with an average temperature of 72.1 degrees and July in the years 1935 and 2006, with average temperatures of 71.7 degrees, were warmer. Nearly half of July experienced typical hazy, hot and humid weather. Comparing again to last year, this July was much warmer. Last July was the fifth coolest on record with just one day at or above 80 degrees. This year there were 21 days at or above 80 degrees, including two days above 90 degrees. Another two days reached 79 degrees.
The month’s low temperature of 51 degrees was observed on July 1, 2, 3 and on the 31st. The high temperature of 92 degrees was observed on July 6 and 7. The average mean temperature was 71.5 degrees, 3.5 degrees above normal and 6.4 degrees above last July’s average.
The total precipitation was 3.73 inches, 0.52 inch below normal. There were six thunderstorms. A few packed a punch, but caused no severe damage locally. During the afternoon of July 21, Norfolk was just to the north of a strong storm cell that produced confirmed tornados in numerous towns from Sharon to Bristol. Through July, the total precipitation for the year was 29.89 inches, just 0.06 inch above normal.
The month’s low temperature of 28 degrees was observed on May 11. The high temperature of 87 degrees was observed on both May 2 and May 26. The average mean temperature this month was 58.8 degrees, 4.2 degrees above the May normal. There were two record high temperatures this month. The high temperature of 84 degrees on May 1 replaced the 81 recorded in 1936 and the high of 87 degrees on May 2 shattered the 80 recorded in 1933. It was Norfolk’s fourth warmest May in the last 79 years. The warmest May on record was in 1991 with an average mean temperature of 59.7.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.89 inches, 1.46 inches below normal. For the 2010 calendar year, through May, the total precipitation amount is 21.84 inches, 0.96 inch above normal. There were six thunderstorms this month, but around here none were severe in nature.
With very light flurries falling on two separate days there was 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 53.2 inches, 13.1 inches below normal. A final look at the 2009-10 winter season snowfall amount shows that Norfolk recorded 73.3 inches from October through May. This is 17.9 inches below normal. It is a bit hard to believe, but the last time we saw more than two inches of snowfall was way back on February 27.
May started and ended on the warm side, but we did have a few cool mornings during the second week of the month. There was a hard frost at the weather station and many locations during the early morning of May 11 when some lower elevation locations around town dipped into the mid to upper 20’s. We missed a record low temperature on May 11 by just one degree. The record warm temperatures over the last few months resulted in a much earlier blooming year for many plants. The lilacs, laurel and many others were nearly two weeks ahead of normal.
A very interesting optical phenomenon occurred over the skies of Norfolk on May 17 when a circumhorizontal arc appeared around noontime. A circumhorizontal arc is a huge, multi-colored band running parallel to the horizon with its center beneath the sun. Often only parts of the band are displayed in the high cirrus clouds, but on this day one whole cloud was lit up with this bright coloring. The phenomenon only occurs when the sun is high in the sky and is formed by sunlight entering horizontally-oriented flat hexagon ice crystals through a vertical side face and leaving through the near horizontal bottom face. Where you are located on the Earth determines who can see one. The factors involved in its formation are not all that rare in the Continental U.S., but it still is not a common thing to see. It is the first one I’ve ever seen and because of its size and brightness it startled me when I first saw it. Luckily it lasted for a good half hour and even better, I had my camera with me at the time.
The month’s high temperature of 85 degrees was observed on April 7. The low temperature of 31 degrees was observed on April 14. There were two record high temperatures set this month. The high temperature of 72 degrees on April 2 beat the 1934 record of 70 degrees for that date and the high of 85 on April 7 beat the 1991 record of 81 degrees for that date. At the weather station there were only two days at or below 32 degrees. The average mean temperature this month was 49.4 degrees, 6.5 degrees above normal.
It was Norfolk’s warmest April in the last 79 years, as far back as our records go. The second warmest April was 1945 with an average mean temperature of 48.7 degrees. Three of our top four warmest and five of our top ten warmest Aprils have all occurred within the last nine years. Windsor Locks, CT reported it as their warmest April in 105 years.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 1.94 inches, 2.41 inches below normal. With only two days with light flurries there was no measurable snowfall this month, making it 6.3 inches below normal. It is unusual, but not unheard of, to have no snow during the month of April.
The snowfall total for this winter season, October through April, is now at 73.3 inches, 17.5 inches below normal. For the calendar year the snowfall total of 53.2 inches is 12.7 inches below normal. Our total precipitation of 18.95 inches since January is 2.42 inches above normal. The precipitation has come, but with record warmth in both March and April, it just hasn’t come as much in the form of snow.
The month’s high temperature of 65 degrees was observed on March 19, 20 and 21. It was a record high for March 19, beating the old record of 60 degrees set in 1945. The low temperature of 17 degrees was observed on March 27. The average mean temperature this month was 38.4 degrees, 7.9 degrees above normal. It was Norfolk’s third warmest March in the last 79 years, being surpassed only by 1946 with 40.9 degrees and 1945 with 40.4 degrees. Five of our ten warmest Marches have occurred since 1995. In Albany, NY it was the tenth warmest March in the last 191 years.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 7.51 inches, 3.02 inches above normal. It was the sixth wettest March in the last 79 years. The wettest March was in 1953 when 10.37 inches were measured. March’s snowfall total was a mere 2.7 inches, 15.7 inches below normal. It was Norfolk’s fifth lowest March snowfall total. The least amount of March snow over the last 79 years came in 1946 when only 0.5 inches fell. The last day with measurable snow on the ground at the station was March 22. It was gone one week earlier than last year. In Albany, NY it was the fifth least snowiest March in the last 126 years.
The snowfall total for this winter season, October through March, is now at 73.3 inches, 11.2 inches below normal. What a difference a month makes. At the end of February we were 4.5 inches above normal. For the first quarter of 2010 we are 6.4 inches below normal for snowfall, but 4.83 inches above normal for total precipitation.
The ice went out on local ponds and lakes about four to five days earlier this year than last year. Tobey Pond went out on March 25 while Wangum Lake went out on March 26. This is earlier than normal, but not all that record breaking. Typically the ice goes out anywhere from the last week of March to the first or second week of April.
Early reports indicate that it was not a particularly good year for maple syrup making in Connecticut. It was a month marked by flooding in many Connecticut locations. Norfolk and Litchfield County did get more rainfall than normal, but we were spared the record setting flooding that hit parts of southern Connecticut.
The month’s low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on February 7. The high temperature of 42 degrees was observed on February 22. The average mean temperature this month was 24.1 degrees, 2.3 degrees above normal. The trend which started back in December of having the average daily high temperatures lower than normal and the average daily low temperatures higher than normal continued through the month of February. This may or may not be something of great importance, but it sure seems to be the norm for this winter. February is typically when we get most of our lowest temperature readings.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 5.74 inches, 2.12 inches above normal. February’s snowfall total was 35.3 inches, 15.1 inches above normal. It was Norfolk’s ninth highest snowfall total for the month of February in the last 79 years. It was the most snow we’ve seen in a February since the 39.9 inches we got back in 1972. The two late February storms that hit between February 22 and 27 all by themselves exceeded our normal monthly amounts for precipitation and snowfall. There was snow cover on the ground at the station every day this month with depths ranging from 5 to 23 inches.
February gave us our largest snowstorm of the season to date. The storm that hit February 22 to 24 dumped a total of 16.1 inches of snow on Norfolk. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is now at 70.6 inches, 4.5 inches above normal. So far, for the two months of 2010 we are at 50.5 inches of snowfall, 9.3 inches above normal, and 9.50 inches for total precipitation, 1.81 inches above normal.
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. At the end of the month, after February’s three big storms, we had nearly 5 inches of water equivalent in the nearly 20 inches of snow and ice on the ground. This will become important to forecasters as we approach the spring thaw. It all seems to be pointing towards a big mud season in the coming month or two.