By Russell Russ
April began cool and snowy and it stayed that way throughout most of the month. Warm and beautiful early spring days were few and very far between this April. It was more like winter was the unwanted guest that just would not leave the party. Late March showed signs of a possible arrival of spring, but early April snowfall dashed those hopes. Persistent and regular snow or sleet was the norm until the third week of the month. Cooler than normal temperatures lasted all through the month. March’s well above average snowfall left us all longing for spring, but as April progressed, the focus was not as much on spring, but that we just wanted winter to end.
April’s low temperature of 18 degrees was observed on April 6 and the high of 68 degrees was observed on both April 14 and 28. With an average monthly mean temperature of 39.0 degrees, it was 4.1 degrees colder than normal. There were no daily record temperatures this month, but overall this April was tied with 1965 as the sixth coldest April over the last 87 years. This was the case in much of the country this April. It was cool all over, especially in the Northeast.
Last year was Norfolk’s fourth warmest April; it was nearly 10 degrees warmer than this April. Norfolk’s warmest April was in 2010 with an average mean temperature of 49.4 degrees and the coldest was in 1943 with 36.8 degrees. Prior to this year, Norfolk’s April average monthly temperature has not been below 40 degrees since 1978.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 4.18 inches, just 0.05 inch below normal. Through April, our total precipitation for the year was 19.17 inches, 2.87 inches above normal. No deficit so far this year.
April’s snowfall total was 10.9 inches, exactly 5 inches above normal. Above normal, but not even in Norfolk’s Top 15 snowiest Aprils. The month began with 7 inches of snow on the ground. Finally, by April 21 the snow was all gone at the weather station, sixteen days later than last year. It did not accumulate, but it snowed for a few hours during the morning of April 30. A fitting end to a cold and snowy April.
The 2018 calendar year snowfall amount of 91.1 inches is already 1.3 inches above normal – for the entire calendar year. The 2017-18 winter season (October-April) snowfall total of 107.5 inches is 18.1 inches above normal. Interestingly, just two years ago during the 2015-16 winter season, Norfolk recorded a record-setting low snowfall total of just 35.5 inches – for the entire winter season.
An early look at May’s weather through May 20 shows that temperatures were running nearly 3 degrees warmer than normal. Hard to believe since the first three weeks of the month seemed so cool and wet. Two record-setting and one near record-setting warm days certainly affected this preliminary monthly average. It snowed on Monday, April 30 and on Wednesday, May 2 it was 85 degrees. On Thursday, May 3 it was 88 degrees. Welcome to New England weather.
By far, the biggest weather story of May will be the severe storms that hit many parts of the Northeast on May 15. During the thunderstorms that rolled through the state that afternoon, Norfolk received nearly 2 inches of rain (in little over an hour) and hail that was nearly golf ball-sized. Besides heavy rain and some minor wind and hail damage, Norfolk was spared the brunt of these storms. Several tornados were reported in Connecticut and eastern New York, resulting in widespread and extensive property and tree damage. Let’s hope the latter part of the month is more tranquil. A little drier and some more sunshine would be nice too.
Fourth Snowiest March on Record
By Russell Russ
March was a month full of nor’easters. The brief warm up in February fooled everyone into thinking winter was over and spring was here. March relentlessly brought us all back into reality. The first day of March was warm, the warmest day of the month actually, but it was back to winter after that. From March 2 to March 22 the weather talk was all about current and pending nor’easter storms hitting New England. Thanks to February’s late month warmth, most local lakes and ponds were ice free as of March 1 and basically stayed that way to close the winter season despite March’s cool and snowy weather.
March’s high temperature of 53 degrees was observed on March 1 and the low of 8 degrees was observed on March 18 and 20. With an average mean temperature of 30.2 degrees, it was just 0.5 degree below normal. Temperature-wise it was a very normal March and there were no daily or monthly records set.
The total precipitation for the month was 4.02 inches, 0.41 inch below normal. Through the first quarter of 2018 the total precipitation amount was 14.99 inches, 2.92 inches above normal. Precipitation this month was mostly in the form of snow. In weather observing all snowfall is melted then measured as a liquid and is included in the total precipitation amount.
Snow was the story this month. The March 2-3 storm started as rain and then finished with 5 inches of snowfall. The March 7-8 storm was the big one, it gave us a total snowfall of 22.2 inches. The March 13-15 storm produced a total snowfall of 15.3 inches. On March 15 there was 26 inches of snow on the ground. The last storm was to hit March 21-22, but it stayed to our south giving Long Island large amounts of snow. Norfolk got just 0.8 inch from that one. That final nor’easter proved to be very difficult to forecast and many local meteorologists missed the call on it and took much heat from the public for their forecast failure. Observing and recording the weather is much easier than forecasting it.
March’s snowfall total of 43.5 inches was 26 inches above normal and ranks it as Norfolk’s fourth snowiest March over the last 87 years. We had a decent chance to come in second, but the failed March 21-22 storm stopped that. The snowiest March was in 1956 when Norfolk recorded a whopping 73.6 inches. The other top snowy Marches were 1967 with 46.5 and 1958 with 45.6 inches. Through the first quarter of 2018 the total snowfall amount was 80.2 inches, 21.2 inches above normal.
The 2017-18 winter season (October-March) snowfall total was 96.6 inches. This was 13.1 inches above normal and we still have April and May to officially close out the winter season.
Will April bring springtime to Norfolk? Not a chance, at least for the first three weeks of the month. Through April 22, temperatures were running nearly 8 degrees colder than normal and the monthly snowfall total of 10.9 inches was 5 inches above normal. Our winter season snowfall total rose to 107.5 inches, 18.1 inches above normal. Getting snow in April is not unusual, what was unusual; what was unusual was the regularity of snow or sleet. Of the first 19 days of the month, there were 12 days with either snow or sleet falling. It was endless winter and everyone was longing for springtime.
The good news is that the tide mostly turned by April 21 and warmer weather and no snow was in the immediate forecast. Let’s hope this forecast is accurate. Even though it was late in arriving this year, spring will be much welcomed by everyone. It has been a long winter.
Third Warmest February on Record
By Russell Russ
Much like last year, this February started off very winter-like. All ponds were iced over, temperatures were seasonably cold, there was snow on the ground and snow was falling. Through two-thirds of the month, winter, which took hold in late December and continued all through January, had a firm grip on the weather. Then came the big warm up. The last week of the month was more like late spring than the deepest part of winter. Just like last year, by the end of the month we had seen record temperatures, the snow was all gone and the ponds were free of ice. Even the sap was flowing like it was late spring. It was a great month for maple syrup production. Spring had arrived. For the moment anyway.
The month’s low temperature of 1 degree was observed on February 3. The high temperature of 70 was observed on February 21. The average monthly mean temperature was 29.9 degrees, 8 degrees above normal. It was the third warmest February over the last 87 years. The warmest Februarys on record were in 2002 with 30.7 and 2017 with 30.2 degrees. There were three daily record high temperatures this month; Feb 12 with 52 degrees (was 45 in 1932), Feb 20 with 62 (was 57 in 1939) and Feb 21 with 70 (was 58 in 1953). The two coldest Februarys, also the two coldest of any month, were February 1934 with 9.0 degrees and February 2015 with 10.9 degrees. The average mean temperature for February is 21.9 degrees.
The total precipitation recorded for the month was 5.42 inches, 1.79 inches above normal. The 2018 calendar year, January and February, total precipitation amount of 10.97 inches is 3.33 inches above normal. Drought is currently not a concern.
The monthly snowfall total of 16.5 inches was 4.1 inches below normal. A majority of the snowfall came during the first half of the month. The 2018 calendar year snowfall total through February is 36.7 inches. This is 4.8 inches below normal, but 7.4 inches more than last year at this time. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, is 53.1 inches. This is 12.9 inches below normal and 13 inches less than last winter at this time.
A look ahead to March shows that spring in fact was not just around the corner and that any snowfall deficit would soon be completely changed to a large snowfall surplus. The first day of March was warm and there was no snow on the ground. Then, after three nor’easters and potentially a fourth by the third week of the month, things were very, very wintery once again.
Temperatures were running about 2 degrees colder than normal and it would be an understatement to say that Norfolk saw some snowfall in March. As of March 15, just after the third storm, March’s snowfall total was 42.7 inches. This is 25.2 inches above the monthly normal and by mid-month this March was already the fifth snowiest over the last 87 years. By mid-month Norfolk was just 4 inches away from recording its second snowiest March over the last 87 years. Sorry, there are no records at this weather station from the Blizzard of 1888. The snowiest March on record was in 1956 when 73.6 inches were recorded. Pretty good chance we will not reach that amount this year, but coming in as second snowiest seems very likely.
Fairly Typical January (Winter) Weather
By Russell Russ
During all of 2017 Norfolk only reached zero or below zero five times. January 2018 has already matched that. In January 2017 Norfolk had only three days with low temperatures in the single digits or lower. This January had ten days in the single digits or lower. December was also colder than normal. Of those five days in 2017 with temperatures of zero or below, four of them occurred in December. Winter is back, at least in December and January it was.
January’s average mean temperature of 19.8 degrees was just 1.0 degree below normal. Norfolk’s warmest January on record was in 2002 with an average temperature of 31.7 degrees and the coldest was in 1982 with 11.7 degrees. The month’s high temperature of 58 degrees was observed on January 12. This was a record high for that date, beating the old high of 52 set in 1932 and 2017. The low temperature of minus 10 degrees was observed on January 7. There were two low temperature records this month, January 1 with minus 8 tied the previous 1964 record and the minus 10 on January 12 surpassed the previous record of minus 7 set in 1942.
January’s total precipitation of 5.55 inches was 1.54 inches above normal. Not that impressive, but it was Norfolk’s 16th wettest January in the last 87 years. The wettest January was in 1979 with 11.77 inches. The monthly snowfall total of 20.2 inches was just 0.7 inch below normal. The snowiest January was in 1987 with 50.5 inches. The 2017-2018 winter season, October through January, snowfall amount of 36.6 inches is 8.8 inches below normal.
The biggest weather story from January was probably the flooding that occurred after the rapid warm-up and heavy rainfall on January 11-13. Going from record lows to record highs in a matter of days, plus getting 2.62 inches of rain on top of our 10 inches of snow on the ground certainly added to flooding concerns. For people along the Housatonic and Connecticut Rivers it was ice jam issues, fairly uncommon for us here in Southern New England.
A look at February’s weather through mid-month shows that the wild swings in temperature and some fairly impressive rainfall totals continue to be a factor. Temperatures were running nearly 4 degrees above normal with precipitation already about a half inch above the normal monthly amount. With record warmth on February 12 and more in the forecast for February 20-22 it seems our up and down winter will continue. On the plus side, the February warm-up has resulted in Great Mountain Forest’s second earliest maple sap collection in over 70 years.
An early look at January’s weather
By Russell Russ
A quick look at the weather for the first half of January. During the first week of January there were three days with below zero temperatures and two days with zero degree temperatures. By the middle of the month there were additional days with lows of 1, 2 and 3 degrees. It was definitely a cold start to the new year. By comparison, the entire year of 2017 had only four days below zero and one day at zero – and all but one of those occurred during the last four days of the year.
A temperature of minus 8 degrees on January 1 tied a 1964 record low for that date. A low of minus 10 on January 7 surpassed the old 1942 record of minus 7. By January 10 Norfolk’s average temperature was nearly 14 degrees below the normal for January. Then, oddly enough on January 12, Norfolk set a daily high temperature record with 58 degrees, easily beating the old 1932 and 2017 record of 52. It was a brief warm-up though, between January 13 and 14 the temperature went from the upper 50’s to a cold 1 degree.
Through mid-month there had been two snowstorms that brought the monthly snowfall total to 19.4 inches, almost the average amount for the entire month. Then there was the January 12-13 rain storm that dumped 2.62 inches of rain. Just prior to the big warm-up and heavy rains there was 10 inches of snow on the ground with a water equivalent of 2.4 inches. The heavy rains combined with the rapid snowmelt (it all melted) resulted in flooding conditions in many locations in the state. By mid-month the total precipitation amount was 4.09 inches, already a little above the normal for the entire month of January.
It was a wild weather beginning for 2018. If the rest of the year follows suit then it should prove to be much more exciting than 2017.
Stay tuned for a complete monthly weather summary for January. See “Past Narratives” for past weather summaries, including November and December 2017 and a Year Review for 2017. Also check out the “Weather Data Sheets” for other weather summary data as soon as it becomes available.