2013-2014 Winter

Winter2014Ranks

BRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! It was a cold and snowy winter for many. For some, they ask, “Where is winter?” as it felt like that winter never came. This winter has been certainly cold compared to recent winters of 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. So, how cold was this winter?

America
Temperature: 31.27°F
Rainfall: 5.69

1895-2014 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 32.29°F
Winter Temperature Median: 32.47°F
Standard Deviation: 2.01

Winter Rainfall Mean: 6.74
Winter Rainfall Median: 6.69
Standard Deviation: 0.89

It has been quite cold for America. A far cry from last two winters, which were balmy. Winter did not want to come. So, why was this past winter cold? The reason is the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) or East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). Like North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO), when EPO goes negative, it causes upper level ridging over Alaska, which allows cold air to go down south. Even if EPO is negative, while NAO and AO are positive, America gets cold. This setup happened in December 1983 and February 1989, where deep freezes hit America.

2013-2014Winter500mbGeopotentialAnomaly

Winter rainfall has been below average. This is mainly due to the dry winter in the Western US. So, how does 2013-2014 rank? Let’s look at top 20 coldest winter since 1895.

Top 20 Coldest Winter
1.) 1978-1979 26.61°F
2.) 1894-1895 26.65°F*
3.) 1935-1936 27.78°F
4.) 1898-1899 27.95°F
5.) 1909-1910 28.17°F
6.) 1904-1905 28.69°F
7.) 1928-1929 28.72°F
8.) 1977-1978 29.04°F
9.) 1916-1917 29.10°F
10.) 1917-1918 29.11°F
11.) 1911-1912 29.35°F
12.) 1903-1904 29.89°F
13.) 1976-1977 30.01°F
14.) 1902-1903 30.03°F
15.) 1948-1949 30.14°F
16.) 1936-1937 30.35°F
17.) 1914-1915 30.39°F
18.) 1963-1964 30.40°F
19.) 1983-1984 30.56°F
20.) 1919-1920/1984-1985 30.57°F

*December 1894 data is missing.

Notice there have been some data change for climate division, so the value and ranking is a little different. For example, Winter 2009-2010 was 15th coldest winter on record and now it is 22nd coldest on record. Winter 2013-2014 does not make the top 20 list. It is the 34th coldest winter on record. It is cold considering that last winter was 19th warmest winter on record. Quite a stark contrast right there. Interesting to note that some of the coldest winter occurred in the same decade, 1910s and 1970s and some occurred back to back in the early 1900s, mid to late 1910s, and late 1970s.

Since, this winter had been dry, how does 2013-2014 fare in the rainfall department. Here is a top 10 driest winter on record.

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 1976-1077 4.17
2.) 1930-1931 4.68
3.) 1980-1981 4.72
4.) 1894-1895 4.73*
5.) 1962-1963 4.88
6.) 1946-1947 5.40
7.) 1963-1964 5.47
8.) 1919-1920 5.63
9.) 1903-1904 5.68
10.) 2001-2002/2013-2014 5.69

*December 1894 data is missing.

I got the winter rainfall forecast way off. 2013-2014 is the 10th driest on record and ties with 2001-2002, which had little snow on the East Coast. That lack of snow contributed to the clean up of what used to be the World Trade Center, which tragically was destroyed on September 11, 2001 by terrorists. Initially, it was feared that it could take up to two years to clear the World Trade Center site. The dry winter is due to the severe drought in the Western US, especially in California. If I was in California, I would be more worried about drought than earthquakes. At least earthquakes happen quickly, while droughts are prolonged. Also, droughts can happen anywhere in the world, whether desert or tropical rainforest. A huge earthquake can only happen in areas with active fault lines, which is Pacific Rim or South Asia due to India subcontinent moving further north.

Now, let’s look at the great state of Texas’s winter.

Texas
Temperature: 45.93°F
Rainfall: 2.42

1895-2014 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 47.28°F
Winter Temperature Median: 47.22°F
Standard Deviation: 2.32

Winter Rainfall Mean: 4.82
Winter Rainfall Median: 1.83
Standard Deviation: 4.68

It was even cold in the Lone Star State. The cold weather may have kept things dry as it is below standard deviation as I will look soon. It makes an abnormally dry winter. That is concerning as drought is a major problem in Texas. So, how does 2013-2014 rank in Texas?

Top 20 Coldest Winter
1.) 1898-1899 41.33°F
2.) 1894-1895 41.55°F*
3.) 1904-1905 42.20°F
4.) 1978-1979 42.83°F
5.) 1977-1978 42.87°F
6.) 1963-1964 43.03°F
7.) 1911-1912 43.43°F
8.) 1983-1984 43.50°F
9.) 1972-1973/2009-2010 43.83°F
10.) 1909-1910 44.23°F
11.) 1917-1918 44.30°F
12.) 1976-1977 44.50°F
13.) 1935-1936 44.53°F
14.) 1962-1963 44.57°F
15.) 1912-1913 44.63°F
16.) 1960-1961 44.67°F
17.) 1914-1915 44.80°F
18.) 1928-1929 44.87°F
19.) 1905-1906 44.90°F
20.) 1947-1948 44.93°F

*December 1894 data is missing.

This winter is not in the top 20 coldest winter as it ranks 27th coldest on record for Texas. It makes the top 30 coldest winter on record. It is the coldest winter since 2009-2010 and that winter was cold. On the topic of rainfall, it was bone dry. That is a very concerning as Texas has been in a drought since 2008. So, how does 2013-2014 compare in the rainfall deparment?

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 2008-2009 1.54
2.) 1908-1909 1.67
3.) 1917-1918 1.72
4.) 1970-1971 1.80
5.) 1916-1917 2.11
6.) 1966-1967 2.12
7.) 1975-1976 2.13
8.) 1995-1996 2.31
9.) 1901-1902 2.32
10.) 2013-2014 2.42

The 2013-2014 Winter is tenth driest on record. The most recent dry winter is also the driest on record, 2008-2009. This past winter is even drier than 2010-2011 and that was a strong La Nina. This past winter was Neutral bordering into La Nina. It shows that El Nino or La Nina is not only factor for winter rainfall and temperature. There are other factors in play. In the meantime, let’s check out the Upper Texas Coast, which Houston is in.

Upper Texas Coast
Temperature: 52.17°F
Rainfall: 4.36

1895-2014 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 53.96°F
Winter Temperature Median: 53.98°F
Standard Deviation: 2.64

Winter Rainfall Mean: 10.24
Winter Rainfall Median: 9.88
Standard Deviation: 3.54

Top 20 Coldest Winter
1.) 1894-1895 47.85°F*
2.) 1977-1978 48.07°F
3.) 1898-1899 48.90°F
4.) 1963-1964 49.03°F
5.) 1904-1905 49.17°F
6.) 1976-1977 49.60°F
7.) 2009-2010 49.67°F
8.) 1978-1979 49.87°F
9.) 1962-1963 50.03°F
10.) 1983-1984 50.07°F
11.) 1911-1912/1972-1973 50.13°F
12.) 1939-1940 50.33°F
13.) 1935-1936 50.50°F
14.) 1905-1906 50.63°F
15.) 1909-1910 50.93°F
16.) 1917-1918 51.13°F
17.) 1967-1968 51.20°F
18.) 1959-1960 51.30°F
19.) 1947-1948/1960-1961 51.37°F
20.) 1958-1959 51.43°F

*December 1894 data is missing.

Like America and Texas, the Upper Texas Coast did not crack top 20 coldest winter. It is the 26th coldest winter on record. It is cold for sure, much colder than the past two winters. 2009-2010 was much colder than 2013-2014 despite more freezing temperatures than in 2009-2010. 2009-2010 had below average temperatures every single day. Winter 2009-2010 still remains in the top 10 coldest winter on record.

The past few months had below normal temperature. In terms of rainfall, it has been dry. The analog precipitation forecast was way off for Upper Texas Coast. The winter rainfall total is well below standard deviation of 3.54. That is very concerning as drought remains a problem. However, I was right in regards of winter precipitation as Houston saw five freezing rain events. Here is how 2013-2014 compared for Upper Texas Coast.

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 2008-2009 2.83
2.) 1917-1918 3.93
3.) 1970-1971 4.05
4.) 2013-2014 4.36
5.) 1908-1909 4.48
6.) 1961-1962 4.97
7.) 1896-1897 5.30
8.) 1975-1976 5.63
9.) 1903-1904 5.74
10.) 1985-1986 5.77

The 2013-2014 Winter is fourth driest on record. For the record, the Winter of 2008-2009 is driest on record since 1895. Driest winters occur usually during a La Nina and we were Neutral. This is very concerning as drought has stricken a good portion of Texas and America. However, I see light at the end of the tunnel. El Nino is developing and word is it could be a strong one like 1982-1983 or 1997-1998. If that is the case, we could see a wet spring or summer and certainly a wet fall and winter. That would be a good thing as it can bring the drought to a screeching halt.

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