WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

What a difference a year makes!

Posted January 2, 2012

Temperature anomaly projection for the period January 9-15, 2012, indicating the period has a good shot at averaging above normal for much of the central and eastern U.S.

We heard from a lot of folks over the past few weeks who remembered last year's snow that began late Christmas Day and ended up a significant event for most of our area, generally hoping we might have a repeat in 2011. That didn't happen of course, and not only that, we've lived in almost a different world weatherwise for the December just finished compared to the one we experienced one year earlier.

In 2010, December featured frequent development of a deep upper level trough across the eastern U.S. that left us with frequent blasts of very cold air, and subject to the occasional snow-producing storm system. In 2011, however, the upper-level "see-saw" was tilted the other direction, with a persistent trough over the western U.S. resulting in a general west to southwest flow in the east that brought above-normal temperatures our way.

More specifically, here's how the numbers stack up for the Raleigh-Durham airport for the two Decembers. In 2010, the mean monthly temperature there ended up at 34.9 degrees, which was 8.1 degrees below normal. To go along with that, we had 2.39 inches of precipitation, which included 8.3 inches of snow. The December just ended was a very different story, closing out with an average monthly temperature of 48.5 degrees, a full 5.0 degrees above normal. We total 2.05 inches of precipitation, all of which reached the surface in liquid form.

We are in the midst of a blast of much colder air right now, but it appears it will come nowhere near record levels and will also abate rapidly by later in the week. The current projection from the Climate Prediction Center (the image included here) for a good part of the next week or two also favors a strong chance of above-normal temperatures during that period.


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  • Mike Moss Jan 4, 2012

    WFRules, Hard to know if the snow dances will work this year, but you never know. La Nina years like this often produce warmer and drier than normal winters ON AVERAGE, but even within those winters there can be strong outbreaks of cold air for limited periods. Then, it's just a matter of whether a storm rolls through with the correct timing. An extreme example of that is the huge snowstorm that we experienced in January 2000, while a pretty strong and long-lasting La Nina was still in place.

    Christinebbd, Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • christinebbd Jan 3, 2012

    Thanks for the info Mike! You're my favorite meteorologist, I enjoyed watching your posts while you were stationed in Iraq. Thank you for your service!

  • WFrules Jan 3, 2012

    Please do a snow dance for our viewing area... Want snow so bad, but may have to travel west to see it this year.