Friday, February 17, 2012

Snowless winter? It would be a first

We're several days into the second half of February, which means the start of meteorological spring is less than two weeks away. The "official" start to spring is a little more than a month off.

And not a trace of snow has fallen this season at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the city's official reporting station.

That puts us in historic territory -- within sight of the first winter without even a trace of snow in the Queen City, in the 134 years that records have been kept.

If you're a snow-lover and are unhappy about what's happened this winter, here's some bad news. There isn't a definitive sign of frozen precipitation in the forecast for at least the next 10 days. And the outlook in March isn't good.

First, the important caveats.

We all know that snow can fall into April -- especially since all we're talking about here is a "trace." It wouldn't take much for a trace of snow to fall, perhaps at the end of a low pressure system, as the precipitation ends and colder air pours in. Frankly, that could happen Sunday afternoon or evening, as this weekend's big storm system moves up the East Coast.

March typically is among the snowiest months in Charlotte, although anything that falls usually melts very quickly.

But we've been locked in a persistent pattern this winter, with a variety of conditions that have conspired to keep the snow away.

La Nina has been one player, directing a series of mild air masses across the South. There hasn't been a blocking high pressure system over Greenland, or a persistent low pressure system in central or eastern Canada. Either of those conditions would steer arctic air into the East.

The latest bit of evidence pointing to a mild March is the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is a moving pattern in the atmosphere, and the latest forecast is that it will be in a phase across the United States in March that tends to produce mild weather.

The Climate Prediction Center, NOAA's long-range forecasting branch, is calling for above-average temperatures through at least March 2. And the longer-range forecast is for warmer-than-average weather through the entire spring and into early summer.

National Weather Service records in Charlotte show that at least a "trace" of snow has fallen every year since records started being kept in 1878-79. The most recent "trace" winter was 2005-06, when a trace was reported in three different months.

Like I said ... not even a whiff of snow so far this winter in the region.

The warm weather probably means a nightmare of crabgrass and weeds in our lawns; flea and tick populations that explode; and all kinds of other bad things this spring and summer. More about that at a later time.


Taylor said...

I read the word "snow" so much during this article I subconciously went ahead and cleaned out Food Lion, put chains on the tires, salted the driveway, AND posted a moderately funny comment.

Anonymous said...

Really? Where's the moderately funny comment? I'd like to read it.

Anonymous said...

3 comments and counting and nothing yet from the tin-foil hat global warming is a hoax freaks.......

Oh, wait, this is about how we HAVEN'T had any snow this winter......


Anonymous said...

Hey, Anon 3:22, remember the prior two colder than normal winters? And have you seen the record cold and snow in Alaska and over most of Europe this winter? It's about air mass movement, NOT the hoaz of global warming.

Get an education

Anonymous said...

What is it with the global warming people? When it snows and we anti-GW people say, "so much for global warming," the GW apologists begins screaming, "IT'S CLIMATE, NOT WEATHER!!!!!!! IF YOU THINK A COLD-WEATHER EVENT DEBUNKS GLOBAL WARMING, YOU ARE STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then, when we have a warmer-than-normal season, the apologists show up again, this time saying, "YOU SEE? WE'VE HAD NO COLD WEATHER THIS WINTER! THIS PROVES THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS THE GOSPEL TRUTH!!!!! AND IF YOU BELIEVE OTHERWISE, YOU ARE STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Get over yourselves.

Now, back to the subject of the blog post... Yes, Steve, this does make me sad. The summers here are so brutal, I long for the respite of a snow or three. And this warm winter has me fearing we are going to be above 90 every day from May 20 - October 10, and over 100 at least a dozen of those days. I'll be at home, hibernating in front of an air conditioning vent.

Anonymous said...

J, please feel free to move. There are plenty of homes for sale up north.

Anonymous said...

wow, weather man. you're so optomistic. your blog really puts me in a good weather mood, especially as a snow lover and a non-fan of "bad things" in summer.


Anonymous said...

J, here you go:

If that's too difficult to understand, have a 5-year old help you.

Justicenow said...

You can argue all you want but global composite temperatures have once again risen again... this year past was the warmest recorded from a global perspective, just as 13 of the laast 15 have been the warmest recorded years. It seems kind of obvious something is going on, but blame it on liberals, Obama or the man on the moon if you'd prefer. And do us a favor and post a name... unless of course you know how troll-like it sounds to go by "anonymous".