Friday, April 26, 2013

Comparing Spring 2013 to Spring 2012

Last spring's weather was an aberration.

...sure it could happen again but the chances seemed small. I explained the 2012 spring conditions and the drought that followed at The Ohio State Weather Symposium in March. (Power Point is here) A year later, the conditions are very different in many ways across the U.S.  Above normal rainfall, temperatures running well below normal and late season snowfall for starters.

Since the growing season is around the corner, lets compare the temperatures, rainfall and drought indices to this time last year. First the temperatures. After the warmest March on record and a very warm April of 2012, this spring since March first has been anything but warm. Late season snow on the 20th of April with flurries on the 24th have solidified this early spring as a bust for Ohio.
Temps vs Normal for March thru April 22nd
Rainfall last year was becoming scarce. Moist condition in winter were disappearing as evaporation from the early spring warmth was taking its tool on the soil. So far this spring, rain has been plentiful across Ohio while major flooding was a big concern for the upper Mississippi River.

Mississippi River flooding from Iowa to almost St. Louis

The Mississippi River was well above flood stage in St. Louis but no where near the record highs set during the Flood of 1993

The Long Term Palmer Drought Index for the week of April 20th shows three distinct difference compared to 2012 at this time. The first is the southeast where conditions are much improved this year. Second is the drought conditions in the western Plains and out west which are only getting worse. Third is the heavy rain and saturated soil across the corn belt.

Whether or not we see any reprieve from the rain will greatly determine how quickly corn can be planted. Corn is only 2% in the ground while last year, the top corn producing states were already 16% planted. Something to watch!

The thousands of record cold and snowfall records across the U.S. from late March through late April hasn't helped.

Spring tornadoes are way down compared to the seasonal average of 492. In 2012, 588 tornadoes were confirmed. So far this spring, the number is more than half of last year's with 226 as of April 25th. 

So what does early May look like? Will we see any warmth? Will we see bouts of cooler periods? While "cooler" for late May means something different than early April, the overall outlook for the next two weeks isn't great. Both long term projections shows the temperatures averaging below average (average high is lower 60s for earl May) which would translate to 40s and 50s.

Map on left is thru May 12th--Map on right is for May 4th--COOL!
What a difference a year makes!

Monday, April 22, 2013

What is Your Definition of a HOT SUMMER?

One of the many things I have learned over the years presenting the weather on television is the strength of the public's perception on how the weather works. The weather data may say one thing about a specific weather trend or event but the power of our senses creates and amplifies inherent biases hardwired in our brains and overwhelms any objective analysis.

How many times have we described some piece of weather history with numbers and they just didn't sit well with you because you perceived weather to be wildly different? We all have some degree of what is called cognitive dissonance--that is the feeling of discomfort (frustration, anger, embarrassment) when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting ideas or beliefs.

Rather than make you feel uneasy about listing scary numbers of summer's by (believe me, I'll have plenty of time for this in later posts) , my QUESTION OF THE DAY is to survey your PERCEPTIONS of the weather.