Springtime Weather – 2011 edition
Today in Atlanta, GA we hit a high of 83 degrees along with an extreme pollen count of 3,301. The pollen is a separate issue, but hitting 83 on a day where our high is usually around 70, and you know that we’re experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures. Through in the fact that tomorrow’s weather forecast is to be only 58 degrees, and, well, big change is coming.
And by big change I mean potentially severe weather.
The evening hours are approaching, and as I type this latest article, severe storms are marching across the lower Ohio Valley and across the deep south.
Right now a major squall line is pushing through the southern part of the country. Tornado watches are active from Louisville, Kentucky all the way south to New Orleans, Louisiana. So far ten tornadoes have been reported including a possible tornado that struck a manufacturing plant in Kentucky.
High wind advisories have also been issued with the passing of this weather system. The weather hasn’t even hit us yet and we’re in a high wind advisory until 8 pm this evening.
Speaking of the weather and climate and global warming and all of that fun stuff, let’s take a look at my three favorite cities and see how they fared this past winter.
More importantly, how did it feel to you?
Who cares about hard facts and real numbers. Did it feel like this past winter was a little bit warmer, or did it feel like a non-stop blizzard?
To me, even with the week of snow and ice and other winter events that occurred, I don’t remember the cold temperatures that well. The snowfall was on par with the Storm of the Century that struck back in 1993, but as far as the actual cold temperatures, I don’t remember it that well. Perhaps this is because it’s over 80 degrees outside.
Let’s take a look at some data and see how Detroit, MI; Atlanta, GA and Orlando, FL did this past winter.
As we can see, the Motor City has already received over two more inches of precipitation when compared to “normal” conditions (as opposed to being down three inches at this time last year), has received 67.5 inches of snow (25 inches ABOVE “normal”), and when looking at the number of heating degree days since July 1st, the city has been slightly cooler this past winter.
In other words, Detroit experienced a slightly cooler winter than what is considered to be normal, and the city received a significantly higher amount of snowfall.
Down here in Atlanta, the data shows that so this winter and early spring has been pretty close to what is considered to be “normal” for the region. Our amount of precipitation is slightly above “normal” (no complaints here), and when looking at the heating degree days and cooling degree days, we’re right on the money.
The only statistic that would be above normal would be the total amount of snowfall this year, but it’s not listed on the chart. No worries though since the last time we had snowfall like that was nearly twenty years ago! You can’t take a single anomaly and use it to argue whether or not our weather system is out of whack.
As far as Atlanta’s winter, when looking at the numbers, it looks like we’ve had our “normal” winter with a little bit of extra rainfall.
When looking at the data for Theme Park Land (a.k.a. Orlando, Florida), there’s not a whole lot to be concerned about this year. So far the area has received about three more inches of rain when compared to “normal” conditions (down from eight inches above normal at this time last year), and the number of heating degree days shows slightly warmer temperatures than what the area normally experiences. This is significantly higher when compared to last year’s cold winter in the Sunshine State, but when looking at what’s considered to be “normal,” there’s nothing to fear with this year’s weather.
In the middle of February I was in Orlando for a week of fun in the theme parks, and nearly every day had temperatures above eighty degrees. The workers agreed that it was unseasonably warm weather for that time of year, but nobody was complaining. I’ve had many Spring Break trips to Florida during my school days, and the weather was always a crap shoot. Sometimes it would be sunny and warm, and other trips would have cool days and extremely cold nights. But it was still fun as long as you were prepared for the weather.
Right now the country is experiencing a weakening La Nina weather system. A strong La Nina would mean warmer than normal temperatures and lower than normal amounts of precipitation for those of us in the southeast. But as we’ve seen, here in Atlanta the La Nina has had a minimum effect on the city’s climate.
The three-month La Nina outlook actually doesn’t look threatening. The official La Nina forecast from the Climate Prediction Center is calling for further diminishing La Nina conditions, and temperatures and precipitation to return to normal in the near future. When looking at the weather data for my three cities, I’d be surprised if they were still experiencing La Nina conditions by the start of summer.
The last thing we need around here is another drought.