Bobby’s Sunday Meteorological Voice Volume 2, Episode 14: Are Hot Summers a Predictor to Winter Weather? #njweather #NorCast #BSMV
Good Sunday morning! I’m Meteorologist Bobby Klark from the NorCast umbrella of weather/social media pages. Welcome to my “we are getting on track to be a” weekly blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to our weather/media profession. But first…
Becoming partly sunny throughout the region, with the risk of afternoon pop up showers and storms again, humid, and warm. Tomorrow, better chance of seeing rain north of I-80, with more breaks in the rain the farther south you go.
I posted my Klark Daily Weather Update #KDWU over on my daily rain weather page Bobby’s Weather and talked about how upcoming, a possible heat wave was coming in the extended. It promoted a viewer to post a comment asking, “does a hot summer translate into a cold or warm winter.” (See, I do read all your comments 😉 ) I actually sat back and pondered it a bit. The simple answer I said was No, but I had to put an asterisk next to that answer because climate data is starting to get skewed as climate change has ramped up.
Climate is defined by the average of any weather stat over a 30-year period. So up until Dec. 2021, we were using the “climate” data of Jan 1, 1992, through Dec 31, 2021, as our “normals” for things like average high or low temp, average rainfall, etc. At the end of this year as enter 2023, it will be Jan 1, 1993, through Dec. 31, 2022, and so on. Because climate change has made things erratic over the years, it generally has made things difficult to decide what is hot, what is cold, what is a “normal” summer or winter for that matter. There are also different factors to take up.
For example, we can easily say, these past 5 winters, alone, has seen significantly less snow than say the early 2010’s. And even with a bigger snow event, like 6-8 inches, also skews the numbers to hit your “normal” average amount of snow. Take hockey. A team score 10 goals in one game, and doesn’t score the next 4 games, their average is 2 goals a game in that 5-game period. Of course, snow is only indicator and honestly isn’t the best when determining what a cold winter is like. Remember 7 years ago? Most of our snow fell between Feb-April with temperatures around 40 degrees, which is a tad warmer than average at least for the first part of Feb.
Another factor to consider is what I wrote about in a publication in one of my many stops on the road of doing TV weather. The fact that this area is seeing the seasons change by moving them 1 month ahead. What I mean by that, we think of winter as Dec, Jan, Feb, and yet, the average temperatures in the past 13 years in Dec has risen over 3 degrees! It takes longer to get a nice warm up in April and still get below freezing a lot more than we used to. I could probably count on one hand the past 6 Junes where we had an air temperature of 90 degrees, in any part of the region I cover (Remember, I cover all of NJ, the Poconos, NYC, and Philly), and could probably argue there has been at least 10-20 times as many 90-degree days in the middle to end of September then in June. So that in itself will be a factor comparing say before the 2000s climate to now.
So I tried to pick out certain years that had to sweltering hot weather in the summer. The 2 that came to mind immediately were 2011 and 2015. 2011 is most famous for the “almost breaking” of the state temperature record of 110 degrees back in 1936 in Old Bridge, when Newark Airport hit 108 degrees. It was also one wettest summers we have, though skewed a bit by Tropical Storm Irene dumping 10-20 inches of rain over a 2-3 day period (Little did we know a year plus later, we would be talking about Sandy). That winter, we had 7 “snowfalls”, if you count the one at the end of October which those of you in my NW NJ area like Morris and Sussex County probably remember nearly 20″ fell around Halloween. Other than that, it was a quiet winter without snow and saw the least amount of days where it dipped below freezing for highs in the past 15 years.
Counter that with 2014. We a decent heatwave, several in fact, during July and August. Then came the winter of 2014/2015. We had 19 snow events, 14 of which put down more than 1″ in most places, and that February. We also made the “Polar Vortex” a household name, especially in February where nearly half the month our highs were below freezing and only got above normal 4 days. We also tied the record of having the 2nd and 4th coldest temperatures in NJ of -20 degrees (Walpack) and -16 degrees (Sussex Airport) on Feb. 24, 2015. That entire winter season saw many record lows go into the books throughout the region.
Those were just 2 years to compare most recently. I could go through ever year dating back to 1991, but then you would probably want to hang yourself in boredom like the woman in the movie “Airplane” but overall as you go back there is really no correlation to a hot summer to its effects on the winter. I know people in this business take stabs at trying to predict how warm or cold the winter maybe and even try to forecast how much snow we will get (as if our profession doesn’t take enough of a hit when something changes in 24 hours).
So what do the critics say? My colleague Nick Pittman adds “A lot of people start asking as soon as the calendar flips over to Summer “will these (insert hot or cold) temps impact the Winter?” I just never understood why. We have a hard enough time trying to figure out what’s coming in the 7 days. Sure, we can see overall patterns, it even those in this ever-changing age we are in is hard to do. We used to be able to look at analogs and anti-logs and extrapolate that data to come up with a guess – it even that is becoming difficult. My opinion on the matter? Who cares? We can’t change it. We will deal with it when it gets here!”
I guess we shall see what Mother Nature brings.
Thank you for joining me. Comments, questions, and or is there a topic you would like me to cover, you can post below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great day everyone!