A One Month Winter Season?

By Russell Russ

Winter finally arrived in February, bringing with it a near average amount of snowfall and briefly some very cold temperatures. Unlike last year’s snowy deep freeze of a month, this year gave us just a taste of what normal February weather should be. Even with a brief record cold spell and numerous days with snowfall it was still considerably warmer than normal. It was the twelfth warmest February over the last eighty five years. The early warmth resulted in an early start for the maple syrup season here in Norfolk. For sap flow and maple syrup production it was one of the best Februarys in recent memory.

The month’s low temperature of minus 19 degrees was observed on February 14. This was a record low for that date. It was the coldest Valentine’s Day on record for this station, beating the old 1979 record of minus 15. It was seven degrees colder than last February’s coldest temperature, but this year the real cold weather only lasted for about three days, last year it was cold all month. The high of 59 was observed on February 25. There were two record daily high temperatures this month. The 55 degrees on February 3 beat the 52 from 1991 and the 59 on February 25 tied the record from 1976.

With an average monthly mean temperature of 26.6 degrees it was 4.8 degrees warmer than normal. This February’s average monthly temperature was a whopping 15.7 degrees warmer than last year’s. There were three days with below zero temperatures this month, last year there were nine. This year there were seventeen days with daily temperatures that were above freezing, last year there were just two. What a difference a year makes. Our warmest February was in 2002 when the monthly average was 30.7 degrees. The coldest two months (of any month) on record for this station are February 1934 with 9.0 degrees and February 2015 with 10.9 degrees.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 6.35 inches, 2.75 inches above normal. The monthly snowfall total of 19.9 inches was just 0.7 inch below normal. It did not seem like it snowed much, but it did. The trouble for the snow lovers this year is that the snow just did not stick around for long. Warm temperatures and several days with heavy rain really put a damper on our snow-on-ground totals this month.

The 2016 calendar year, January and February, snowfall total of 24.7 inches was 17 inches below normal for this period. This was nearly 32 inches less than our January and February total from last year. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is just 26.2 inches. Incredibly, this is 51 inches less than our snowfall total through this period last winter. For comparison, Norfolk’s average winter snowfall total is 90 inches. If the current weather patterns continue into March and April then we could certainly be looking at record low snowfall totals from this winter.

A quick look at early March shows the warmth and lack of snowfall continuing through at least the middle of the month. It appears that our winter may have been extremely short and that spring may be arriving quite early this year. With record warmth recorded on March 9 and 10 it also appears that spring itself may be short lived this year.