I have to tell you, this is probably my favorite blog post in quite some time. Some weather predictions are coming in and some of the historic analogs are fascinating as well as being good (cold) news for the coming winter of 2015 – 2016.
For my regular readers, you know I am a big fan (and subscriber) of Joe Bastardi of Weatherbell.com and his precient winter weather ideas. The last few years he has put forth his ideas in the spring, months and months in advance of the winter and he has done a great job hitting near the mark. He tweeted this on Friday morning:
closest look IMO to last 20 years for US winters 02-03,09-10. Have had winter outlook out since April 29 for clients, subscribers
— Joe Bastardi (@BigJoeBastardi) July 10, 2015
This item is from a Grand Rapids, MI meteorologist who penned the item in 2013, but highlighted the winter of 2002-2003. Here is what that winter looked like:
“Sept. 2002 was warm and pleasant, 4.3 degrees warmer than average. I’ve called for temps. in Lower MI. this month to be 1-3 deg. warmer than average. October started mild, but there was an abrupt change on Oct. 16. The 2nd half of Oct. 2002 was cloudy and cold. It never got warmer than 52 from Oct. 16-31. We had snow flurries on 3 days in late Oct. The month ended 2.9 deg. cooler than average. November was 2.2 deg. cooler than average with 7.6″ of snow. December was the only month warmer than average, but not by much, just 0.5 deg. We had 15.6″ of snow that month and a beautiful, White Christmas with 4″ of fresh snow on the ground. Jan. 2003 was 3.3 deg. cooler than average with 30.2″ of snow. February was a frigid 5.0 deg. cooler than average with 18.9″ of snow. March continued the trend, 1.3 deg. cooler than avg. with 14.4″ of snow. April was 0.6 deg. cooler than average with another 1.3″ of snow. May was 3.2 deg. cooler than average with snow flurries on May 10th. The warmest temperature in the entire month of May in G.R. that year was 75. June was 2.5 deg. cooler than avg. and July was 1.4 deg. cooler than average. August was the first month of 2003 to be warmer than average. That summer we only had 4 days that reached 90 and none higher than 92. That winter brought colder than average temperatures, higher than average snowfall (88″) and a fantastic and long winter sports season.”
I think those of you in Michigan and the Ohio Valley would sign up for that.
Here is a good read on the winter of 2009-2010, as there was below normal cold and above normal precip over most of the country: “The winter of 2009-2010 was defined by snowstorms of historic proportions and record-breaking cold. Millions of Americans from coast to coast faced unusual cold, damaging flooding and mudslides, or blizzards of mammoth scale from December 2009 through February 2010. These conditions required massive cleanup and repair efforts, cost millions of dollars and disrupted daily life at a seemingly routine pace for many people this winter. “Everything was extreme. There was no run-of-the-mill storm this year,” said Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.”
Now…on to some interesting stuff: Heating Degree Day Totals
This link is from something I wrote here on PropaneBuzz.com back in early March where I totaled heating degree days for this past Jan and Feb vs some of the coldest such time frames dating back to 1995.
ST LOUIS: Two of the largest Jan-Feb combined HDD totals occurred in 2003 and 2010, which is the exact analog combo Bastardi is looking at for this winter. #1 was 2014 and #4 was 2015. 2nd and 3rd were 2010 and 2003.
RALEIGH, NC: 2015 had the most Jan-Feb combined HDD’s for Raleigh in the last 21 years. 2010 was 2nd at 1,303 while 2003 ranks 3rd with 1,240. If I take out those top three years, the average of the remaining 18 years is 991…so we are talking about considerable cold.
INDIANAPOLIS: 2015’s 2,447 Jan-Feb HDD’s ranks 2nd out of the last 21 winters for Indianapolis, with last year’s 2,572 holding the #1 position. What about rankings 3 & 4? 2003’s 2,431 and 2010’s 2,350.
CHICAGO, IL: 2015’s 2,715 Jan-Feb HDD’s ranks 2nd out of the last 21 winters for Chicago, with 2014’s 2,870 holding the #1 position, off just 5% from last winter’s top mark. If you take out the last two winters and average the rest back to 1996, the average Jan-Feb HDD’s are 2191. 2003 saw 2,373 and 2010 saw 2,329 Those marks rank 8th and 10th out of the last 21 years.
COLUMBUS, OH: 2015’s Jan-Feb HDD totals of 2,445 is the high water mark for Columbus over the past 21 winters, eclipsing 2014’s total of 2,388 by 2%. Guess which winter (Jan-Feb) rank 3rd and 4th? You guessed it; 2003 at 2,364 and 2010 at 2,266.
ATLANTA: Jan-Feb of 2010 is the coldest of the past 21 years. 2003 ranks 6th
DES MOINES, IA: This past winter’s Jan-Feb HDD totals ranked 11th out of 21. 2014’s 2,457 is the top mark over the last 21 years. Second on the list? 2010’s 2,446 HDD’s, a near dead heat for the top mark. 2003’s 2,267 ranked 6th on the list. The 21 year average is 2,085.
BOSTON: 2015 ranks as the coldest, with 2003 next in line and 2010 at number 12.
NEW YORK: 2015 ranks as the coldest, with 2003 next in line and 2010 at number eight.
PITTSBURGH: 2015 ranks as the coldest, with 2003 next in line and 2010 at number five.
SYRACUSE: 2015 ranks as the coldest, with 2003 at number three and 2010 at number 11.
PORTLAND, MAINE: 2015 ranks as the coldest, with 2003 next in line and 2010 at number 17.
GREEN BAY, WI: 2014 & 2015 rank first and second on this list at 3,033 and 2,701, respectively. 2003 ranks 5th at 2,626 while 2010 ranks 14th at 2,329.
MEMPHIS: 2010 ranks number one with 2003 at number four
BIRMINGHAM, AL: 2010 ranks number one with 2003 at number four
MINNEAPOLIS: Out of all the metro areas I have looked at, Minneapolis would be one of the few locations where one of the 2003 & 2010 years don’t show up near the top of the list. 2014 is at the top of their list at 3,052. 2003 ranks 9th at 2,610 and 2010 ranks 11th at 2,571. Throwing out the coldest and warmest gives us a 19 year average of 2,475. Throwing out the coldest gives us a 20-year average of 2,449.
We’re talking about winter a long way out, so you have to take that into account. We also have an El Nino that is pretty strong but we don’t know how far into the fall winter it will persist. By the way, the 2002-2003 and 2009-2010 winters were also fueled by El Nino events…but remember, not every El Nino will behave the same. The Super El Nino of 1997 coincided with some lousy HDD’s for Jan-Feb pretty much everywhere.
The best bets to hit the mark, in my opinion, is south of the Mason-Dixon line and into the Ohio Valley.