Thursday, March 28, 2013

A different way of measuring March's misery

We're nearing the end of what, by National Weather Service standards, will be the coldest March in Charlotte in more than 40 years.

The Weather Service measures monthly temperatures by compiling daily averages. In other words, you take the daily high and low temperatures, and get an average for the day. And for the month, you get an average of the daily averages.

By that measurement, we're on pace for the fifth or sixth coldest March in Charlotte history, somewhere around 5 degrees below average.

But here's another way of measuring just how miserable it has been in recent weeks -- by looking at afternoon high temperatures.

Most people don't have to deal with morning low temperatures. They're snug and warm, inside their homes or possibly already at work.  Afternoon highs are a different story.  We're walking home from school, getting in our cars to come home from work, trying to play scholastic or amateur sports, or doing any of a number of other things.

The point is ... we're out there, in it.

I've taken a look at how our afternoon high temperatures in Charlotte have compared to the daily averages, and the pattern is obvious.

We were mild for the beginning of winter -- through December and January, and into the middle of February. That's when a high-latitude blocking pattern became established, creating a kink in the jet stream that sent repeated bursts of polar air into the eastern United States.

Here's how our daily highs have compared to average:

DECEMBER ... 24 days above average; 7 days below.

JANUARY ... 18 days above average; 3 days average; 10 days below.

FEBRUARY ... 11 days above average; 17 days below.

MARCH ... 8 days above average; 20 days below.

So since Dec. 1, we've had above-average daytime temperatures about 55 percent of the time.

Now here's the interesting statistic:

SINCE FEB. 15 ... 10 days above average; 31 days below.

In other words, since the middle of last month, our daytime highs have been below average about 75 percent of the time. And on many of those days, highs were well below average.

It's a statistical look at the reason why many people are eagerly awaiting a warm-up.


Anonymous said...

I do these kind of statistical analysis all the time, Steve...For instance:

Days with a high above 70 in March 2012: 20
Days with a high above 70 in March 2013: 2
(yes, there are 3 days left in March 2013, but none look to surpass 70)

Days with a high below 60 in March 2012: 3
Days with a high below 60 in March 2013: 20
(yes there are 3 days left in March 2013, but none look to have a high below 60)

I do this 'research' so I feel a little more justified about how miserable or great a month in one year feels compared to another.

Anonymous said...

"Misery." Please spare us the melodrama. This weather has been great.

You will be whining when it is hot this summer too. "Oh, how miserable it is! Oh, the misery!"

"Misery" indeed.