Monday, February 08, 2021

How Does This Winter's Consistent COLD Compared To Recent Years?

Lake Erie from 30,000 feet (February 5, 2021)

One of the biggest canned responses I get when I mention winter cold is "Winter is supposed to be cold. What's so special about the cold?".  My qualifying reply usually mentions the fact that it's not the average cold we address in the forecast, it's the extreme cold that is the biggest concern for people. This winter since January 1 has been unusual in that we haven't had much extreme cold (until now, February 7).

I checked the high temperature for each of the last 5 winters from January 1 to February 7. This graphic below first shows the last 4 winters (minus 2021). Notice the ups and downs. Blue and red dots denotes the days above 50. Red dots are highs below 20. Blue curved line are the 2021 high temperatures. Notice how much flatter the curve is this year.  No extremes either way. Just consistent cold...until now.

Interestingly, the last time we had a high temperatures above 50 degrees was early Christmas Eve (before the holiday snow). 

Here is the list of longest stretches WITHOUT reaching 50. Some of these started in November and December. The blue asterisk denotes years (8 total) that didn't reach their first 50 under AFTER February 15th. Only 4 made it into March without a 50 degree day: 1963 (March 11), 1978 (March 19), 1940 (March 17) and 2003 (March 7). It's looking more likely we won't see a 50 until at the earliest, the last week of February.