Winter Wrap-Up

Posted Updated
Winter 08-09 Temp Anomaly
Mike Moss

And there were times this winter when we really needed to "wrap-up" against the cold, other times it was pretty mild for a stretch. In the end, we actually finished out the season (encompassing the months of December, January and February, in keeping with the definition of "winter" used in climate records) with temperatures that ran a little above normal and precipitation that totaled up a few inches below normal. This was in keeping reasonably well with a series of winter outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center, beginning last summer, that our part of the country had a modest likelihood of below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures.

To be a little more specific, for the three-month period overall our average temperature at RDU was 44.4 degrees, which is 2.6 degrees above normal and more than 10 degrees warmer than our record cold winter of 1976-77, which produced an average temperature of 34.3 degrees. The warmest winter season for the Raleigh area, on the other hand, yielded a mean temperatures of 52.6 degrees in 1889-90.

Precipitation for the winter of 2008-09 totaled up to 7.24 inches at the airport, which is 3.29 inches below normal, representing about 69% of normal for a fairly dry season. For those of you who track heating degree days, we accumulated 1828 during the winter, 261 below normal.Judging from some of our e-mail, the idea that we had less heating demand than an average winter would come as a surprise to some folks, based on their energy bills!

Of the precipitation that fell at the airport during the "climatological winter," 3.5 inches was in the form of snow. However, we did have a snow event just 10 days or so before the Dec-Feb period got underway, and again just a day or two after it ended, so our 2008-2009 snowfall total (for which records are maintained on a July 1st to June 30th "year") is currently 7.1 inches, which is very close to the long-term average of 6.8 inches.

I hope everyone's enjoying the jump-ahead to to late Springlike conditions we've had over the weekend. I know I enjoyed some time outside then and look forward to more today and Wednesday. Although there are some big question marks about the specifics, it's looking as if we'll get a dose of wetter and much colder weather again later this week and perhaps into the weekend.

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