Taking A Look Back at Winter 2019 Climate Statistics (Credit: NOAA National Center for Environmental Information-Climate)
Discussion: As the cold days of winter fade away, spring is starting to go into full gear across the United States. The National Center for Environmental Information has released their climate statistics from this past winter. Breaking these statistics down, the overall average temperature for the season (December 2018- February 2019) was 33.4°F. This number is 1.2°F above the average temperature. These averages are based on a record spanning 125 years. This winter ranked the top third warmest of winters since the record began. Regions that experienced these warmer than average winter temperatures included parts of the New England, the Southern Plains, and Southeast Ohio Valley. In Alaska, the average winter temperature was 10.5℉. This was the thirteenth warmest winter for Alaska, 6.9°F warmer than the long-term average. Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee all had overall winter temperatures that ranked in the top ten warmest for their state. Though many areas saw a warmer winter, cooler than average temperatures were present in the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest, and Central and Northern plains. During the end of January, many parts of the Midwest experienced record breaking, downright frigid temperatures. Despite the extreme cold during that time, no state broke a record for cold or warm.
The average total of wintertime precipitation this year was 9.01 inches, which was above average by 2.22 inches. This amount ranks this winter (December 2018-February 2019) as the wettest winter on record, beating the winter of 1997-1998 by just 0.02 inches. Across the contiguous United States, most of the nation experienced above average precipitation rates except for only five states! The standout state was Tennessee, which experienced their wettest winter and February on record, while Wisconsin had their second wettest winter. Snowfall records were broken in Omaha, Nebraska and Nome, Alaska. Omaha had a record breaking 46.1 inches of snowfall which broke their 2003-2004 winter record of 44.3 inches. Nome tallied 69.5 inches of snow with help from a record-breaking February snowfall of 35.6 inches. That record-breaking February snowfall was the highest single February snowfall in Nome since 1920! With all of the snow and rain that fell across the United States this winter, no state ranked below average in the precipitation category.
Winter 2019 was a fairly active season. Across the United States, various weather events occurred. From Washington to Wisconsin, numerous cold temperature and snowfall records were broken in February. In Hawaii, Mauna Kea experienced a temperature of 9 degrees! A storm system known as a Kona Low was the cause bringing snow, heavy winds, and high waves. Across California and the West Coast, an atmospheric river event brought in heavy rainfall. These heavy rains caused flooding on the Russian River, which is located north of Santa Rosa, California. The atmospheric river event also contributed positively to the above average Sierra Nevada Mountains snowpack. In the southeast, heavy rain caused flooding and mudslides, while in the Northeast and Great Lakes, winter storms brought coastal flooding, heavy snowfall, and hurricane force winds.
In other locations across the west, snowfall broke records. In Flagstaff, Arizona, a one-day total of 35.9 inches was recorded! This marks the snowiest day on record for the city. For Las Vegas, Nevada, they saw their first measurable snowfall in over a decade. This winter broke records and brought some of the coldest temperatures that some parts of the country have ever experienced. With the winter cold and snow behind us, springtime temperatures will be right around the corner!
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©2019 Meteorologist Shannon Scully