Area experiencing a warmer winter than normal

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Temperatures on Monday in the city of Johnstown reached as high as 52 degrees as shown on the NBT sign on Comrie Avenue. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

MOHAWK VALLEY — As many area residents were seen out without coats in the 50 degree temperatures on Monday, it seems The Farmer’s Almanac had accurately predicted this winter’s warmer than unusual temperatures.

This year, the annual publication predicted this winter would be “milder than normal, on average, with above-normal precipitation and near-or below-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will be in early to mid-January, late January, and early February.”

Tom Wasula, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said this area actually saw average temperatures in December, but with snowfall totals way above normal — with snow accumulation of approximately 22.6 inches. A majority of that snow accumulation came from Fulton and Montgomery Counties first snow storm of the season, which saw some areas get up to two feet of snow.

Wasula said temperatures in December were only 1.3 degrees above normal. Temperatures usually average 28.5 degrees during December and this year averaged at 29.8 degrees.

However, trends in January were different, with less snowfall and warmer temperatures.

“The minimum temperature has been above normal due to the lack of snow cover,” Wasula said.

He said with the lack of snow cover came warmer temperatures and more mixed precipitation, such as rain, wet snow and freezing rain.

The area saw winter storms with a mix of rain, sleet, freezing rain and snow towards the end of December and early February. Both storms caused several cars to go off the roads, along with several trees and wires down.

Snowfall in January was approximately 12.8 inches below normal.

Wasula said the average temperature for January is 22.6 degrees, but this January, temperatures were 9.2 degrees above average, with the average this year being at 31.8 degrees.

“This trend has continued into February so far with temperatures 6.1 degrees above average and snowfall 4.4 inches below normal,” Wasula said. “This is related to the storm track. We’ve seen a lot of warm air come in form the south.”

He said usually the average temperatures in February are 25.7 degrees, but this year the average temperature has been 31.8 degrees.

“Temperatures have been warmer than normal, but we’re not far off from snow accumulation,” Wasula said. “There has been normal amounts of snow.

The Farmer’s Almanac stated, “The snowiest periods will be in mid-November, mid-to late December, and early and late January.”

Although this area has seen warmer temperatures — like the warm day on Monday — that does not mean the trend will continue.

Wasula gave a three to four week outlook for March according to the Climate Prediction Center, he said temperatures and precipitation will both be below normal.

However, weather patters can possibly change, he said.

Those who are looking forward to warmer weather are in luck, as there is a 33 percent to 50 percent chance for a warmer spring, and a slightly above-normal chance of precipitation, Wasula said.

He said the rain will be good to help bring in spring flowers and other vegetation.

“For people looking for warmer weather, it’s looking good,” Wasula said.

Nonetheless, the Farmer Almanac stated that “April and May will have above-normal temperatures, with below-normal rainfall. Summer temperatures will be hotter than normal, with the hottest periods in mid-June, mid-to late July, and early August.”

Rainfall is expected to be below normal — Wasula said “last year was a strange summer,” with all the rain this area got in June.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “Rainfall will be below normal in the north and above normal in the south. September and October will be warmer and rainier than normal, with a tropical storm threat in mid-October.”

This year will also see a faster end to the official winter. The Vernal Equinox — the official start of spring — will be on the earliest date in 124 years according to the Farmers Almanac. This year’s will be at 11:49 p.m. on March 19.

By Kerry Minor

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