Sunday, April 27, 2014

Winter 2013-14 Roundup

In all the Winters I can remember, this one was unique in that it never seemed to end. Also notable was the extreme cold that froze part of Niagra Falls and nearly all of the Great Lakes.  Here in Central VA and NC, the season seemed to have something for everyone but unlike the classic Winters failed to end at the usual time.

The Official Winter Forecast specified the following characteristics:

1) Harsh Cold but temperature deviation from Winter only finishing between -1 and -2:  I knew that the season was going to be bad when Thanksgiving week lows in the teens destroyed my winter salad garden.  However the short periods of extreme warmth led to an overall Dec-Feb anomaly near -1.  It does not seem fair that the overall season "looks" near normal despite the suffering.  This is clearly a case of the "Devil being in the details".  

2) School Disruption totaling 7-10 delays, early dismissals, and closings:   My bold forecast was not bold enough.   I lost count after 10.

3) Classic "Heart of Winter" Season ends near Valentine's Day:  This season chose not to end in the fashion of legendary late 1970's winters.   I suspect active Siberian Volcanoes and the rumblings of  the pending El Niño combined to extend the season.  March was terribly cold and featured multiple rounds of snow and ice in VA and NC.  March cold was downright historic!   

4) Ice would be the bigger story in NC than Snow:  This prognostication was due to the warm North Atlantic surface temperatures that simply do not favor storm types and tracks that are big snow makers in Central NC and VA.   By March, the rise of the Subtropical Jet and effect of horrible cold  in the 50-60E, 40-50N region had reversed the situation.   It appears very likely that the next Winter will be much different in terms of regional snowfall than this one (HINT HINT).  Sleet and Freezing rain were definitely the dominant winter precip this year.  Despite that fact, RDU reported about 7" of snow which is near the long term average.

Now that this winter has passed, I am already been asked about 2014-15.  See my answer below:

IF El Niño plays out the way that I believe, then we can expect a Winter known for persistent cold but far less severity than this year due to the lowest temperatures being 15-20 rather than -5 to single digits!   SNOW will be a much deeper player next year, particularly in VA.