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A Look Back at Winter, A Look Ahead at Spring

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Now that we are into the month of March, thought a look back at this past winter would be appropriate. Climatically speaking the winter months are considered to be Dec-Feb, so with that in mind winter is over and we are now into Spring. Of course, that does not mean that we have no more threat of wintry weather; quite the contrary. In fact, the month of March is when we have historically received some of our heaviest snowfall. But, we are gaining several minutes of possible daylight each day so the days are rapidly getting longer and any wintry conditions just do not last very long at this time of year.

So, with the above caveat in mind, let's take a look back at winter of 2012-13. Since the months of Dec and Jan were both much warmer than normal, the cooler than normal month of Feb was not enough to overcome the very mild start and we wound up more than 2 degrees milder than normal. That places this past winter somewhere in the middle of the pack regarding warmer winters. So far, the total snowfall as officially measured by the local NWS office here in Tulsa is 3.7" which is well below the normal of nearly 9 inches. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of more snow before March is over as mentioned above.

Speaking of this past February, it was one of the very few months out of the last two years in which we were both cooler and wetter than normal. In fact, for the calendar year of 2012, only October was cooler than normal and before that you have to go back to Sep of 2011 to find the next month that was cooler than normal. The last time we had a month that was wetter than normal was September of 2012; then all the way back to March of 2012 for the next one.

This all illustrates the pattern we have been in recently with the much warmer and drier than normal conditions which have prevailed over the last couple of years. That February broke the pattern does not necessarily indicate we no longer have to worry about drought. Quite the contrary as the longer term outlook indicated by the map on the right from the Climate Prediction Center is not very optimistic. By the way, March of last year was the warmest March on record and really set the pace for what turned out to be the warmest calendar year on record. Also, for you gardeners, March 29 is the normal date for our last freeze of the Spring season.

What about the short term? Obviously, March is starting off quite cool this time around and Saturday will also be much below normal. However, Sunday and Monday will be much milder; particularly for the overnight hours of Sunday night into Monday morning. Our next cool front will arrive Monday morning, but the air behind this system does not look to be as cool as we have been this week. Even so, temperatures will be back below normal for Tue/Wed followed by much warmer conditions for the latter part of the week and into that weekend. Also, our next good chance for moisture will be late next week and into the weekend.

In the meantime, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot

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