Back to winter
By Russell Russ
With February’s record warmth, you would have thought March would follow suit and spring would be just around the corner. The first day of March was warm, the warmest day of the month actually, but it was back to winter after that. There were some nice early spring days, but a majority of the month was cold. Most local lakes and ponds had lost their ice in late February only to get it back again in early March. The larger lakes began opening up late in the month, but Tobey Pond and many other smaller ponds stayed ice covered into April.
March is typically the big maple syrup producing month in Norfolk, but this year it was too cold for sap flow during a good portion of the month. In the end, it turned out to be about an average maple syrup year in Norfolk. The top story of the month was the blizzard that hit on March 14. Snowfall depths ranging between 14 and 22 inches were reported in the Norfolk area. Conditions were bad with much blowing and drifting, but forecasts were for more snow than we actually received, so it could have been worse.
March’s high temperature of 59 degrees was observed on March 1 and the low of 1 degree was observed on March 5. With an average mean temperature of 27.7 degrees, it was 3 degrees colder than normal. There were no daily record highs or lows. It was the sixteenth coldest March over the last 86 years.
The total precipitation for the month was 3.20 inches, 1.23 inches below normal. Not record setting, but it did add to our slow growing yearly deficit. Through the first quarter of 2017 the total precipitation amount was 9.42 inches, 2.65 inches below normal.
The monthly snowfall total was 21.2 inches, 3.7 inches above normal. Interestingly, there was no snow on the ground until March 10. The blizzard on March 14 produced varying snowfall amounts. The total blizzard snowfall at the weather station was 15.9 inches over two days, but there were people that reported up to 22 inches in and around Norfolk. The blizzard contained heavier snow bands, much like summer thunderstorms, and it depended where the heavier bands happened to hit. Had it not been for this one storm, March’s monthly snowfall would have been well below normal.
Unlike last year, which was the least snowy winter season on record, this winter season, October through March, was just about normal. Through March, this winter’s snowfall amount was 87.3 inches, 3.8 inches above normal.
An early look at April showed it to be fairly normal through mid-month. Most area ponds had lost their ice for the season by April 5. The early February warmth had pushed budding and blooming a little ahead of schedule, but a cool March kept things in check. Spring really is now just around the corner and it will not be long until everything greens up once again. Enjoy the early warm days before the blackflies come out, but watch out for ticks who are already here.
Second Warmest February on Record
By Russell Russ
The month began with all ponds being iced over, 5 inches of snow on the ground, cold temperatures and then several days with snowfall. Through mid-month temperatures were running about 5 degrees below average for February and we had already received our average snowfall amount for the entire month. Winter had arrived. The latter part of the month was a completely different story with barely a trace of snowfall, very warm temperatures and even a thunderstorm on February 25. There were five days during the last week of the month that set records for daily high temperatures. The snow was all gone and the ponds were free of ice by the close of the month. Spring had arrived.
The month’s low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on February 10. The high temperature of 67 was observed on February 24. The average monthly mean temperature was 30.2 degrees, 8.3 degrees above normal. It was the second warmest February over the last 86 years. Daily record highs: 55 on February 22, 62 on February 23, 67 on February 24, 60 on February 25 and 57 on February 28. The warmest February on record was in 2002 when the monthly mean temperature was 30.7 degrees. For comparison, the coldest two months (of any month) on record for this station are February 1934 with 9.0 degrees and February 2015 (just two years ago) with 10.9 degrees.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.69 inches, 0.94 inch below normal. The 2017 calendar year, January and February, total precipitation amount of 6.22 inches is 1.42 inches below normal. The ongoing drought continues to slowly get worse.
The monthly snowfall total of 20.8 inches was 0.2 inch above normal. It did not seem like it snowed much, but it did – it just all came during the first half of the month. The 2017 calendar year snowfall total of 29.3 inches is 12.2 inches below normal. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is 66.1 inches, just 0.1 inch above normal. We would be considerably more below normal for snowfall had it not been for a fairly snowy November.
A look ahead to March shows that winter was in fact not done yet. After two near record warm days to start the month it quickly turned cold. Halfway through March, temperatures were running nearly 6 degrees cooler than normal with many nights dipping down into the single digits. Early March was cold, but relatively snow free until the March 14 blizzard hit. The weather station recorded nearly 16 inches, but many other locations in the area saw depths ranging from 14 to 24 inches. The big nor’easter with its heavy snow bands produced some varying snowfall totals. With multiple single digit mornings, many ponds icing over again and then the heavy snowfall with much blowing and drifting, many wondered where our early spring had gone. By mid-March the monthly snowfall amount was already nearly 3 inches above normal. The maple syrup makers may have gotten a good jump on the season in mid-February, but Mother Nature put a hold on the syrup business during February’s late month warm spell and again during early March’s cold spell.
Another Warm January
By Russell Russ
Just when it seemed that winter had us firmly in its grasp we got a little break. We all thought last January was warm, but this year was over 3 degrees warmer than that. Snowfall was well below average, but it was several inches more than last year’s amount. The ongoing precipitation deficit continues, but it grew only a small amount this month.
January’s average mean temperature of 27.2 degrees was 6.4 degrees above normal. It was Norfolk’s ninth warmest January over the last 86 years. The warmest January on record was in 2002 with an average temperature of 31.7 degrees. The month’s high temperature of 52 degrees was observed on January 12. This tied the 1932 record hi temperature for that date. The low temperature of -4 degrees was observed on January 9. Only three days during the month had low temperatures in the single digits or lower.
January’s total precipitation of 3.53 inches was 0.48 inch below normal. The monthly snowfall total of 8.5 inches was 12.4 inches below normal. This January’s snowfall amount was the ninth least amount for a January over the last 86 years. The January 2016 snowfall amount of 4.8 inches was the fourth lowest January monthly snowfall amount. The record for least snowfall for a January is 2.6 inches from 1980. The winter season, October through January, snowfall amount of 45.3 inches is just 0.1 inch below normal. Even with January’s limited snowfall we are still very much average for snowfall this winter.
Winter will have to kick in at some point, but for the month of January it was in a bit of a holding pattern. A look at February’s weather through mid-month shows that winter finally woke up – and woke up a little angry. Halfway through the month and we had already seen our normal monthly snowfall amount of 20 inches. Other parts of the state have seen even more snow than Norfolk. Temperatures were running about 2 degrees warmer than normal with no super cold days recorded yet. February can produce some of Norfolk’s coldest temperatures. Spring may be around the corner, but winter is not over just yet.