Winter Returns

By Russell Russ

The year of 2020 was Norfolk’s fourth warmest year on record and October through December were all above normal for temperature. Snowfall for the current winter season, however, was about normal through December. What would this mean for January? As it turned out, January was a little warmer than normal and snowfall was below normal, but there was frequent wintry precipitation and there were some cold temperatures. Winter had arrived, perhaps a little soft, but it arrived.

January’s average temperature of 22.9 degrees was 2.1 degrees above normal. It was five degrees colder than January 2020. There were no daily record temperatures this month, but there were four days with single digit temperatures and one day recorded a low of 2 below zero. January’s warmest temperature was a high of 39 degrees on January 2. In all of 2020 there were seven days with single digit temperatures and the low all year was zero. Winter just might have found its way back to Norfolk. Norfolk’s warmest January on record was in 2002 with an average temperature of 31.7 degrees and the coldest was in 1982 with 11.7 degrees.

January’s total precipitation of 2.11 inches was 1.93 inches below normal. The wettest January occurred in 1979 with a total of 11.77 inches and the driest was in 1970 with just 0.74 inch. The monthly snowfall total of 12.4 inches was 8.3 inches below normal. Of January’s thirty-one days, there was some sort of precipitation that fell during sixteen of those days. Only a small portion of the precipitation was plain rain, most was in the form of snow. There was at least three inches of snow on the ground for twenty-eight days during January, with depths ranging from three to eight inches. The snowiest January occurred in 1987 with 50.5 inches. Coming in at second snowiest was January 2011 with 50.0 inches. The least snowy was in 1980 with just 2.6 inches.

The 2020-2021 (October-January) winter season snowfall total through January was 36.5 inches, 8.5 inches below normal. It has not been super winter-like, but it has seemed like a more normal winter than we have experienced in Norfolk for the last few years.

A look at February’s weather through mid-month showed that snowfall and cold temperatures were the norm. Norfolk was seeing a good old fashioned winter. By February 9, we had already exceeded our average snowfall amount for the entire month. By February 16, temperatures were running about two degrees below normal and we were nearly 3.5 inches above normal for snowfall, with more snow in the forecast for later in the month. Unlike previous years when the winter storms seemed to skirt the region, this winter we are getting the storms and on a fairly regular basis. We are not breaking any snow or cold records so far this winter, it is just normal winter for Northwestern Connecticut. Snow lovers had lost their faith over the last two years. It seems that their faith may be restored, as of February anyway.