|Cleveland Plain Dealer - Shoreway Near East 55th|
After last winter, our perceptions have become twisted. We hadn't had a winter with little snow (38.5"; 62" is the average) and mild temperatures like 2011-2012 in a while. Using the National Climate Data Center temperature data for all of northeastern Ohio, the December-February period in the winters of 2001-02, 1997-98 (El Nino), 1982-83 (El Nino), 1948-49 & 1931-32 were the only winters milder than last.
So when I show an 8day forecast that features temperatures trending slooowly back to normal or slightly above into Thanksgiving week, we immediately think of last winter. We remember how lackluster the snow was. We try to paint a similar picture now since we've had little to no snow this month. I bet if I surveyed 1000 people on the street, most would say that this winter will be similar to last winter. The RECENCY EFFECT (our instinctive ability of placing too much significance on more recent experiences or events) is a very powerful cognitive bias.
How about those 1970s snowfalls specifically in November. Were they extraordinary? Here are the November snowtotals from 1975 to 1983. Surprisingly, nothing out of the ordinary.
It didn't happen in the 1970s and it probably won't happen this year. Next post, I'll take a look at the temperatures for the same period.