The winter of 2011-12 is an example of this metaphor. The northern Pacific was cold (PDO) like last winter. La Nina was present just like last winter but it was shorter and not as strong. Yet the biggest change to a more stable arctic/north Atlantic this winter had far different results than the winter of 2010-2011.
SNOWFALL LAST WINTER: 65"
SNOWFALL THIS WINTER SO FAR: 38"
An easier way to put it is this way: You change grandma's soup recipe by adding too little salt and pepper and skimp on the paprika and it might bear no tasteful resemblance to grandma's soup. Got it?
This March is yet another example of how the combination of elements driving our weather patterns can and do yield different results when compared to other time frames like last year.
Here is the weather pattern scorecard so far for March
LAST MARCH THIS MARCH
LA NINA STRONG WEAKENING
MJO PHASE (equator) PHASE 3-4 (COOL) STRONG PHASE 6 (WARM)
ARCTIC POSITIVE POSITIVE
NORTH ATLANTIC POSITIVE POSITIVE
PDO (NORTH PACIFIC) COOL COOL
SNOW COVER 19% 20%
PNA (PRESSURE OUT WEST) POSITIVE WEAKLY POSITIVE
Forget the specifics on each element for a moment and look at the similarities.
All but the LA NINA stage and the MJO are similar to last year.
Last March when we were finally able to take a breath as the perpetual snow cover was melting away, the temperatures finally started to rebound but there was still some winter chill left. You probably remember if you tried to golf at Big Met around St. Patrick's Day in 2011.This year, the trees are starting to bloom. I hear the sound of lawn mowers. I smell fertilizer. I see daffodils attempting to flower. Scary yet awesome sight and sounds in mid March. A sensory overload to say the least.
This week (March 14-20th) we have broke almost a thousand record high temps. We reach a high of 83 on Tuesday. That was a first in March since 1945 and only the 3rd time in a century! Its not only Cleveland but the eastern 2/3rds of the US.
Now do you see how difficult it is to compare this March and early spring to last spring?
The weather pattern ISN'T ALWAYS THE SAME AS THE SUM OF ITS PARTS!
Has this HOT MARCH pattern happened before? You bet. If we look at ALL 17 INSTANCES where we hit 80+ in March in the last century, the pattern (sum of the parts) looks almost identical:
Here are the patterns for the last 80 degree days in March: 1998, 1990 and 1983
THEY ALL HAVE RIDGES IN THE EAST AND TROUGHS/COLD IN THE WEST!
I talked with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources Agricultural R&D Office in Wooster about the growing season so far. According to Dan Herms, we are almost 4 weeks ahead of last year. He says that this early warmth--as long as the temperatures don't drop--won't harm the trees of plant. He also says that you shouldn't plant flowers just yet.
Why should we wait to plant our garden?
Why should we stay away from Lake Erie?
And Why could Christmas trees be the most susceptible to this early spring warmth?
My next post will explain!!!