Sunday, April 1, 2018

Winter in Review

The end of February brought to a close the meteorological winter (December, January, and February). I decided to take a look at the January through March period, instead. It was a harsh winter, at least according to what people say. There were multiple major storms in the Northeast and record cold temperatures to ring in the New Year. But, what does the data say?

I keep detailed weather records for my house in the Texas Hill Country. Now, before I proceed, let me state that this is data for a single point on the globe. The continental US makes up less than 2% of the globe's surface area and my town makes up a tiny little fraction of that. I always caution climate change deniers about taking weather data for a single town as evidence to support their arguments. It works both ways. And, besides, my data goes back only 25 years. This data doesn't prove anything, one way or the other. It's just an interesting observation.

So, how did winter go this year in Mason, Texas? First, we set 25 new record temperatures. That's an average of a new record in less than every four days. That's pretty severe. But, what's interesting is that 13 of those were record lows and 12 were record highs. So, there were basically the same number of record highs as record lows. The reason you don't hear people talk about that is because a record low in winter is harsh and notable. A record high is a nice day and people simply enjoy it. That's an example of why we rely on data and not people's observations.

I also compared the monthly average measured low temperatures versus the average of the average lows for the same periods. Then, I did the same for the high temperatures.

This is what I got for the lows:
         Average measured lows    Average Average Lows
Jan              31.4                               37.2
Feb             41.2                                40.0
Mar             49.4                                46.1

This indicates January really was harsh. The average temperature was nearly 6 degrees F lower than the average for the period and included the lowest temperature in my 25-year record (7 degrees F on January 17). But, both February and March were warmer than normal. February was only a little warmer, but March was over 3 degree warmer.

This is the comparable results for the highs:

         Average measured highs    Average Average highs
Jan            63.7                                57.3
Feb           67.9                                59.5
Mar           79.1                                 65.8

Yikes! Based on this, I'm surprised we had only 12 record highs! All three months were warmer than average. January was over six degrees warmer, February was more than eight degrees warmer and March was a whopping 13.3 degrees above the average.

So, the data tells us the nights were, with the exception of January, mildly warmer. But, the day times were quite a bit warmer than average for each month.

Again, this proves nothing except what happened here in my home town. But, it is still interesting.