This Winter: Warmer and Wetter than Average
This past winter wasn’t the warmest ever in the U.S., but it was still above average. Winter was also slightly wetter than average, but it didn’t break the drought that still holds sway over more than half the lower 48 states.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the average temperature for the lower 48 was 34.4 degrees Fahrenheit which is 1.9 degrees above the 20th century average. That made December 2012 through February 2013 the twentieth warmest winter on record.
The states east of the Rocky Mountains were all warmer than average this winter, especially along the East Coast. Winters in Florida, Delaware and Vermont were in the top ten warmest for those states. On the other hand, the Southwest had a cooler than average winter.
Above average snow, rain and other precipitation in the Great Lakes region and Gulf Coast did little to ease the thirst of the Great Plains, West and portions of the Midwest. As of late February, 54 percent of the contiguous U.S. was still in drought. That number is down by eight percent from the beginning of winter, but will give little solace to farmers preparing for spring planting in parched fields.
The nor’easter that blanketed New England and the blizzards that struck the central U.S. contributed to an average snow cover extent of 1.3 million square miles in the lower 48, which was 127,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average, according to the Rutgers Global Snow Lab.
IMAGE: Washington DC during the “Snowquester” storm. (Corbis)