Fickle Winter Weather

By Russell Russ

The year of 2023 was tied with 1998 as Norfolk’s second warmest and was also the
fifth wettest and ninth least snowy year on record. December was very high ranking
for temperature and precipitation and high ranking for minimal snowfall. The recent
trend certainly points to warmer and wetter weather for this part of the country.
January continued this trend. Where has winter gone? The recent trend points to
winter starting later each year. This year it seemed to arrive during early January.
Actually, winter started and stopped a few times during January. Some warmth with
rain, then a few days later, cold and snow. Like the weather just could not commit to
one or the other.
January’s monthly mean temperature of 26.4 degrees was 5.5 degrees above normal,
ranking it tied with 1953 and 2007 as Norfolk’s twelfth warmest January over the last
93 years. There were no days with daily record temperatures. The month’s high
temperature was 53 degrees on January 13. The low temperature of 4 degrees was
observed on January 20 and 21. Even with warmer than normal temperatures and
rainy days, most local ponds were iced over by the first week of the month and they
stayed iced throughout the month. Norfolk’s warmest January was in 2023 with a
temperature of 32.0 degrees and the coldest was in 1982 with 11.7.
January’s total precipitation of 7.84 inches was 3.82 inches above normal. It was
Norfolk’s fifth wettest January. With that much precipitation in January, then one
would think it was an incredibly snowy month, but that was not the case. It was a
combination of rain, sometimes heavy rain, and snowfall. Snowfall totals are included
in the total precipitation amount. For measuring, the snowfall must be melted, then
the liquid amount gets recorded as total precipitation. 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 26.2 inches was 5.7 inches above normal. Hard to
believe, an above average snowfall amount in this day and age. Winter still shows up
now and again. The snow might not last long, but it does still snow. There was snow
cover for most of the month, but depths went up and down every few days. The most
at one time was nearly a foot, but for most of the month it was just a trace to 4 inches.
The largest storm snowfall total for the month, and season so far, came on January 6-
7 with a total of 14.2 inches (over two days). It was gone within a week. The snowiest
January occurred in 1987 with 50.5 inches. The least snowy was in 1980 with just 2.6
inches. Norfolk’s 2023-24 winter season (October-January) snowfall total through
January was 33.5 inches, 11.3 inches below normal.

A look ahead into February through two-thirds of the month showed that it was
keeping up the warmer than normal trend by being nearly six degrees above normal.
February 8-9 with highs in the upper forties and a record high of 54 on February 10
had everyone thinking spring was here, but there were days with lows in the teens and
it got down to 6 degrees on February 20. Up and down temperatures, but overall,
above normal sums it up. With just 6.7 inches of snowfall and 0.61 inch of total
precipitation, February was bucking the recent wetter than normal trend. Historically,
February is one of Norfolk’s coldest and snowiest months of the year. Will Norfolk
continue its wintertime cat and mouse weather game, or will it commit one way or the
other? Stay tuned.