2013-2014 Winter Progress Report

We are in the last full month of the meteorological winter of 2013-2014. It has been cold for sure. Now, the question is, how cold has it been so far. I am going to be looking at December to January divisional temperature and rainfall.

USA 2013-2014 December to January Temperature
30.61°F

1895-2014 December to January Temperature
Mean: 31.79°F
Median: 31.91°F
Standard Deviation: 2.10
Coolest: 26.04°F (1978-1979)
Warmest: 36.09°F (1933-1934)

Texas 2013-2014 December to January Temperature
44.45°F

1895-2014 December to January Temperature
Mean: 47.00°F
Median: 47.15°F
Standard Deviation: 2.48
Coolest: 40.30°F (1983-1984)
Warmest: 54.05°F (1922-1923)

Upper Texas Coast 2013-2014 December to January Temperature
51.15°F

1895-2014 December to January Temperature
Mean: 54.53°F
Median: 54.48°F
Standard Deviation: 2.80
Coolest: 47.90°F (1983-1984)
Warmest: 62.10°F (1922-1923)

Looking at the December to January temperatures, it has been below average, especially in Texas and Upper Texas Coast. As for America, it was cold in the Midwest and east of the Mississippi. Western US had a warm winter, especially in California. Here is a temperature anomaly map I created that shows how warm and cool parts of the US and world has been.

Dec2013Jan2014_Surface_TemperatureAnomaly

It has been cool east of the Rocky Mountains, while warm west of the Rocky Mountains. It is also warm in Alaska, East Asia, Arctic, and Europe. All the cold air went to the Lower 48. I am going to look at top 10 coolest December to January since 1895.

USA Top 10 Coldest December to January
1.) 1978-1979 26.04°F
2.) 1894-1895*/1917-1918 27.10°F
3.) 1976-1977 27.11°F
4.) 1983-1984 27.23°F
5.) 1909-1910 27.98°F
6.) 1914-1915 28.07°F
7.) 1924-1925 28.60°F
8.) 1911-1912 28.90°F
9.) 1916-1917 29.02°F
10.) 1929-1930 29.10°F

* December 1894 figure not included.

As cold it has been, America had its 31st coolest December to January on record. It is cold no matter how you spin it as it. It is more than a degree below normal, but not abnormally cold as it is within standard deviation. Let’s look at Texas.

Texas Top 10 Coldest December to January
1.) 1983-1984 40.30°F
2.) 1978-1979 41.85°F
3.) 1976-1977 42.05°F
4.) 1917-1918 42.15°F
5.) 1914-1915 42.80°F
6.) 1929-1930 43.05°F
7.) 1972-1973/2000-2001 43.10°F
8.) 1960-1961 43.15°F
9.) 2009-2010 43.35°F
10.) 1963-1964 43.45°F

Texas had its 18th coldest December to January on record. It puts it in the top 20 coolest December to January on record. It is the coldest since 2009-2010, which was very cold. December 2000 to January 2001 was also very cold.

Upper Texas Coast Top 10 Coldest December to January
1.) 1983-1984 47.90°F
2.) 1976-1977 48.00°F
3.) 1939-1940 49.75°F
4.) 1917-1918 49.95°F
5.) 1963-1964/2000-2001 50.00°F
6.) 2009-2010 50.05°F
7.) 1977-1978 50.10°F
8.) 1978-1979 50.15°F
9.) 1972-1973 50.35°F
10.) 1914-1915 50.45°F

If you thought this winter so far had been cold, you are right. It has been cold, but not in the top 10. It is the 13th coolest December to January on record. It is the coldest since December 2009 to January 2010 and that winter was quite cold. December 2000 to January 2001 was also very cold.

It has been quite cold so far. Interesting to note that the coolest December to January on record occurred in the 1970s, especially late 1970s from 1976 to 1979. Also, 1983-1984 was cold everywhere. December 1983 was brutally cold and it occurred during a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO). The East Pacific Oscillation (EPO) went extremely negative, which allowed cold air to rush in down south.

I am going to compare past December to January since 2007-2008 with a bunch of anomaly maps I made.

PastDecJan2013-2014

2007-2008 was a La Nina Winter and despite it, it was not that warm, but within average temperature. 2008-2009 was cold in the Upper Midwest and Canada. It is warm over the Arctic. 2009-2010 is very warm in Alaska, Canada, Eastern Russia, and Greenland. Most of the Lower 48, Europe, and Siberia is cold. 2010-2011 is cold in the Eastern US, while warm in the Western US. It is also cold in Siberia, East Asia, and Europe. Again, Canada and Eastern Russia is warm. 2011-2012 is warm over Lower 48, Arctic, Canada, Europe, and Siberia. It is very cold in Alaska, Eastern Russia, and Central Asia. 2012-2013 is warm over Eastern US and cool in Western US. It is cold over East Asia, Siberia, Northern Canada, and Northern Europe. Cold and warm air has to go somewhere as energy is limited. I think of Earth’s atmosphere as a giant engine. Oceanic and atmospheric patterns affect temperature. They also affect who gets more or less rain.

Precipitation is another thing to look at. It is concerning as the Western US is in a severe drought due to cool Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). A cool PDO causes jet stream to go further north, which causes areas down south to be drier and warmer. A warm PDO causes jet stream to go further south, which means areas up north get less rain. PDO plays a role in severe droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl or current drought. Let’s look at December to January rainfall so far.

USA 2013-2014 December to January Rainfall
3.48

1895-2014 December to January Rainfall
Mean: 4.42
Median: 4.39
Standard Deviation: 0.78
Driest: 2.37 (1980-1981)
Wettest: 6.53 (1915-1916)

America is drier than normal. It is due to the drought in the Western US. Midwest and Eastern US has had wet so far as shown in this divisional map. Parts of Colorado are quite wet, while other parts have been dry. The wet areas are likely in the mountains.

Texas 2013-2014 December to January Rainfall
1.85

1895-2014 December to January Rainfall
Mean: 3.43
Median: 3.41
Standard Deviation: 1.46
Driest: 0.67 (1970-1971)
Wettest: 9.28 (1991-1992)

It has been dry so far for Texas. It is the 17th driest December to January on record. It is very concerning as Texas is still in a drought. However, the drought situation is not as bad as it was in 2011. Still, very worrisome. If we do not see more rain, the drought will only get worse.

Upper Texas Coast 2013-2014 December to January Rainfall
2.22

1895-2014 December to January Rainfall
Mean: 7.46
Median: 7.12
Standard Deviation: 2.72
Driest: 1.35 (1970-1971)
Wettest: 15.75 (1991-1992)

Winter so far has been dry for Upper Texas Coast. It is very concerning as 7.46 inches of rain falls in December and January. It is the third driest winter so far. Only 1970-1971 and 2008-2009 are drier. I am very concerned if we do not see more rain by the end of winter to spring, we could be talking about drought again. Let’s hope there is no drought this year.

We should know how cold and wet this winter will be once February ends. It will give us a true value of this winter. I should have final 2013-2014 data by next month and will post them.

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