Now that we are well into March, we are learning more and more about how different this winter was. In case you missed it, on Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their national summary for this past winter. That would be meteorological winter of course, December – February. The headline…its was a record warm winter for the contiguous US!
Nationwide the temperatures were 4.6 degrees above average. It was the northeast that led the way. As we mentioned before, Boston officially just missed the record for the warmest winter by only a few hundredths of a degree. However, for Massachusetts as a whole, it was the warmest winter on record. In fact, all 6 New England states each individually notched the warmest winter on record. We weren’t alone though. In Alaska, temperatures were more than 10 degrees above average, making it the 2nd warmest winter there. Overall, 47 states noted above average temperatures this winter. NOAA said the strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is partly to blame for the warm winter weather along with other climate patterns.
On a related note, ice cover on the Great Lakes is down substantially from the last two years. Unusually cold weather during the last two winters led to the 2nd and 4th most ice on the Great lakes in 2014 and 2015 respectively. This year, unseasonably warm weather across the northern tier of the country, again due in part to El Nino, has kept ice levels low all winter. You can read more from Climate Central here.
And ice isn’t just missing from the Great Lakes. Arctic sea ice extent in February was the lowest on record by 77,000 square miles! That’s an area about the size of South Dakota lower than the previous record low. Generally, ice extent in the Arctic reaches a maximum in mid to late March but last year the peak came in February. There are signs that may be the peak again this year, suggesting a shorter winter in the Arctic. Temperatures in the Arctic have been 11-14 degrees above average this winter. High temperatures along with unfavorable ocean and atmospheric circulations are to blame for the record low ice according to the report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center,
For us, with the exception of Monday, temps will be well above average (mid 40s by the way) in the coming week.