Our Strange Winter Continues

By Russell Russ

The winter of 2012 continues to be a strange one. Our string of warmer and drier than normal conditions that began in December continued through February. It actually got warmer and drier. Cold temperatures and snow seem to be hard to come by this winter.

February’s high temperature of 52 degrees was observed on February 1 and the low of 7 degrees was observed on February 12. No daily records were broken this month, but it was a much warmer than normal month. With an average temperature of 29.8 degrees it was 8 degrees warmer than normal and in fact was the second warmest February since we began observations in 1932. The warmest February on record was in 2002 with an average temperature of 31 degrees. Third warmest was 1998 with 29.6 degrees. The month of February is typically when we get most of our lowest temperature readings, but this year the best we could do was one day in the single digits.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 1.04 inches, 2.59 inches below normal. It was the second driest February on record, being surpassed only by 1987 which recorded 0.60 inches of precipitation. Third driest February was in 1980 with 1.13 inches. February’s snowfall total of 5.8 inches was 14.5 inches below normal. This February was tied with 1941 as the third least snowy February on record. The least snowy were in 1998 with 4.8 inches and 2002 with 5.3 inches. Not surprisingly, those two months also recorded much higher than normal temperatures. It wasn’t until the last day of the month that we saw snowfall totals come close to 6 inches, but it fell after the morning observation time so it had to be recorded in March’s totals. February just couldn’t catch a break.

The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is 44.3 inches. This is 21.8 inches below normal for this time period and a far cry from last year’s 89.8 inches. The only thing keeping this winter out of the record books for least amount of snow is that Halloween snowstorm. The 2012 calendar year (January and February) snowfall total of 17.2 inches is over two feet below normal.

After finally icing over in late December many of the smaller local ponds began opening up in late February. Wangum Lake was roughly half open by the last week of the month. Tobey Pond was still mostly covered throughout the month, but it won’t be long until it opens up as well. It was a very short ice season this year.