2016-2017 Winter

Another winter has past. It is now spring again. We really had no winter with the exception of the Pacific Northwest where it got cold. Most of America was wondering where is winter. It felt like another spring. How did this winter stack up?

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Temperature Anomaly

Most of the US experienced warmer than normal winter. Some had record warmth winter, especially in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and New Mexico. Washington, Oregon, and Idaho had cooler than normal winter. The mean temperatures tell you a lot. Of course, the devils are in the details.

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Minimum Temperature Anomaly

The low temperatures were quite warm in areas where they had record warmth. The areas that were cooler than normal had cooler low temperatures. No surprise there.

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Maximum Temperature Anomaly

The high temperature anomaly is not as large as compared minimum temperature anomaly. Low and high temperature can have an impact on overall mean temperature. One can have a cool winter if the low temperatures are high, while high temperatures are low or vice versa.

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Rainfall Anomaly

It was very wet, especially in California, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Iowa, and Alabama. Plenty of rain despite La Nina. It was a weak la Nina.

Here is a Northern Hemisphere temperature anomaly map.

Most of the Northern Hemisphere was warm, especially over the Arctic, North America, Asia, and Europe.

Here is a Northern Hemisphere precipitation anomaly map.

The wettest area is over Northern California where they go the lion share of the precipitation.

Here is a Northern Hemisphere 500 millibar level anomaly map.

There was ridging over the Southern US, Alaska, and Europe. The ridging kept things warm under. There is troughing over Northwest Canada, Pacific Northwest, Siberia, and Arctic. That kept things cold for winter.

Here is a worldwide sea surface temperature anomaly map.

The La Nina was weak, while Northeast Pacific off the coast of Alaska was mostly cooler than normal. There is unusually warm water in the Bering Strait and Gulf of Mexico.

America
Temperature: 35.90°F
Low Temperature: 25.94°F
High Temperature: 45.86°F
Rainfall: 8.22

1895-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 32.37°F
Winter Temperature Median: 32.49°F
Standard Deviation: 2.06

Winter Low Temperature Mean: 21.91°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: 21.95°F
Standard Deviation: 2.13

Winter High Temperature Mean: 42.84°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 43.08°F
Standard Deviation: 2.10

Winter Rainfall Mean: 6.76
Winter Rainfall Median: 6.69
Standard Deviation: 0.89

It was an abnormally warm and wet winter. The temperature and rainfall are 1 standard deviation. This is abnormal in terms of temperature and rainfall. Here are the top 10 warmest and wettest winters in America.

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2015-2016 36.78°F
2.) 1999-2000 36.48°F
3.) 1991-1992 36.35°F
4.) 2011-2012 36.34°F
5.) 1998-1999 36.27°F
6.) 1997-1998/2016-2017 35.90°F
7.) 2001-2002 35.66°F
8.) 1994-1995 35.56°F
9.) 2005-2006 35.49°F
10.) 2004-2005 35.46°F

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 1997-1998 26.74°F
2.) 2015-2016 26.65°F
3.) 1991-1992 26.39°F
4.) 2016-2017 25.94°F
5.) 1982-1983 25.88°F
6.) 2011-2012 25.63°F
7.) 1994-1995 25.56°F
8.) 1998-1999 25.49°F
9.) 1999-2000 25.46°F
10.) 2004-2005 25.42°F

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 1999-2000 47.50°F
2.) 1998-1999 47.07°F
3.) 2011-2012 47.06°F
4.) 2015-2016 46.92°F
5.) 2001-2002 46.59°F
6.) 1953-1954 46.51°F
7.) 1933-1934 46.43°F
8.) 2005-2006 46.37°F
9.) 1991-1992 46.32°F
10.) 1980-1981 46.05°F
11.) 1975-1976 45.88°F
12.) 2016-2017 45.86°F

Top 10 Wettest Winter
1.) 1997-1998 8.99
2.) 1931-1932 8.86
3.) 1936-1937 8.66
4.) 1982-1983 8.52
5. 1996-1997 8.49
6.) 1978-1979 8.44
7.) 1902-1903 8.23
8.) 2016-2017 8.22
9.) 1915-1916 8.19
10.) 1992-1993 8.17

The overall temperature ties with 1998. The past winter of 2015-2016 is the warmest on record. The low temperature is the fourth warmest on record. The high temperature does not make the top 10 warmest. It shows that low temperatures can be a huge factor. The lack of cold air kept the low temperature warm. However, the wet winter kept the high temperature in check.

Texas
Temperature: 52.97°F
Low Temperature: 40.87°F
High Temperature: 65.07°F
Rainfall: 6.12

1895-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 47.36°F
Winter Temperature Median: 47.30°F
Standard Deviation: 2.37

Winter Low Temperature Mean: 34.95°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: 35.10°F
Standard Deviation: 2.30

Winter High Temperature Mean: 59.75°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 59.50°F
Standard Deviation: 2.85

Winter Rainfall Mean: 4.83
Winter Rainfall Median: 4.72
Standard Deviation: 1.82

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2016-2017 52.97°F
2.) 1906-1907 52.57°F
3.) 1999-2000 52.10°F
4.) 1998-1999 51.70°F
5.) 1951-1952 51.53°F
6.) 1949-1950 51.13°F
7.) 1956-1957 50.90°F
8.) 1910-1911 50.80°F
9.) 2015-2016 50.77°F
10.) 1908-1909 50.67°F

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 2016-2017 40.87°F
2.) 1906-1907 39.50°F
3.) 1956-1957 39.23°F
4.) 1949-1950 39.10°F
5.) 1991-1992 39.07°F
6.) 2004-2005 39.00°F
7.) 1931-1932 38.87°F
8.) 1937-1938 38.80°F
9.) 1910-1911 38.77°F
10.) 1994-1995 38.57°F

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 1999-2000 65.77°F
2.) 1906-1907 65.57°F
3.) 2008-2009 65.23°F
4.) 2016-2017 65.07°F
5.) 1998-1999 64.97°F
6.) 1951-1952 64.77°F
7.) 2005-2006 64.63°F
8.) 1970-1971 64.53°F
9.) 1908-1909 64.23°F
10.) 1975-1976 64.03°F

Top 10 Wettest Winter

Texas had the warmest winter on record. The previous warmest winter was 1906-1907. The reason for the warm winter is largely due to abnormally warm low temperature, which is the warmest on record. The high temperatures is fourth warmest on record. 2000 is the warmest in terms of high temperature. All temperatures are 2 standard deviation, which is definitely abnormally and are out liers. However, rainfall is within 1 standard deviation, which is average.

Upper Texas Coast
Temperature: 61.73°F
Low Temperature: 52.73°F
High Temperature: 70.80°F
Rainfall: 12.25

1895-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 54.06°F
Winter Temperature Median: 54.07°F
Standard Deviation: 2.72

Winter Low Temperature Mean: 44.22°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: 44.13°F
Standard Deviation: 2.80

Winter High Temperature Mean: 63.89°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 63.63°F
Standard Deviation: 2.86

Winter Rainfall Mean: 10.23
Winter Rainfall Median: 9.86
Standard Deviation: 3.51

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2016-2017 61.73°F
2.) 1949-1950 59.57°F
3.) 1906-1907/1998-1999 58.87°F
4.) 1910-1911/1951-1952 58.77°F
5.) 1956-1957 58.73°F
6.) 1999-2000 58.63°F
7.) 1931-1932 58.30°F
8.) 1922-1923 58.07°F
9.) 2012-2013 58.00°F
10.) 1926-1927 57.93°F

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 2016-2017 52.73°F
2.) 1949-1950 50.63°F
3.) 1931-1932 49.77°F
4.) 1956-1957 49.53°F
5.) 1910-1911 49.33°F
6.) 1998-1999 48.90°F
7.) 1951-1952 48.83°F
8.) 2011-2012 48.70°F
9.) 1922-1923 48.47°F
10.) 1971-1972 48.17°F

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 2016-2017 70.80°F
2.) 1906-1907 70.17°F
3.) 1999-2000 69.47°F
4.) 1998-1999 68.77°F
5.) 1951-1952 68.67°F
6.) 2008-2009 68.63°F
7.) 1949-1950 68.57°F
8.) 2007-2008 68.30°F
9.) 1910-1911 68.27°F
10.) 2012-2013 68.10°F

This was a very warm winter and literally abnormally warm. The overall temperature of 2016-2017 exceeds the previous warmest winter of 1949-1950 by 2.16°F! It exceeds by near 3 standard deviations! That is definitely an outlier! The low temperature is also the warmest and exceeds the previous warmest low temperature of 1949-1950. It also exceeds 3 standard deviations! However, the warmest high temperature is a close one. It is only by 0.63°F, which is not a lot. Still, it is 2 standard deviations, which in outlier territory. Winter 2016-2017 is an anomaly in terms of warm temperatures! It goes down in the record books! It was a wetter than usual winter, but within 1 standard deviation. It was due to the heavy rains of January.

Now, let’s look at the Last Frontier, Alaska.

Alaska Divisional Temperature Anomaly

Alaska Divisional Minimum Temperature Anomaly

Alaska Divisional Maximum Temperature Anomaly

Alaska Divisional Precipitation Anomaly

Temperature: 5.73°F
Low Temperature: -1.30°F
High Temperature: 12.80°F
Rainfall: 7.30

1925-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 4.21°F
Winter Temperature Median: 4.57°F
Standard Deviation: 4.61

Winter Low Temperature Mean: -2.85°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: -2.90°F
Standard Deviation: 4.94

Winter High Temperature Mean: 11.26°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 11.67°F
Standard Deviation: 4.31

Winter Rainfall Mean: 8.13
Winter Rainfall Median: 7.91
Standard Deviation: 1.63

Alaska as a whole had a largely normal winter. The average temperature is within standard deviation. The precipitation is also within average as well. While the rest of the Lower 48 was warm, Alaska had a typically Alaskan winter. Even than Alaska can get cold and warm in the winter.

Top 10 Coolest Overall Winter
1.) 1924-1925 -7.20°F*
1.) 1964-1965 -5.03°F
2.) 1970-1971 -3.97°F
3.) 1955-1956 -3.10°F
4.) 1946-1947 -3.07°F
5.) 1942-1943 -2.77°F
6.) 1931-1932 -2.33°F
7.) 1933-1934 -2.23°F
8.) 1974-1975 -2.03°F
9.) 1975-1976 -1.83°F
10.) 1968-1969 -1.53°F

* December 1924 is missing.

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2000-2001 14.97°F
2.) 2015-2016 14.30°F
3.) 2002-2003 13.43°F
4.) 1976-1977 12.80°F
5.) 2014-2015 11.60°F
6.) 1944-1945 11.30°F
7.) 1985-1986 11.27°F
8.) 1928-1929 11.23°F
9.) 1941-1942 11.03°F
10.) 1986-1987 10.80°F

Top 10 Coolest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 1924-1925 -15.25°F*
1.) 1964-1965 -12.50°F
2.) 1970-1971 -11.47°F
3.) 1955-1956 -10.80°F
4.) 1946-1947 -10.70°F
5.) 1931-1932 -10.60°F
6.) 1942-1943 -9.80°F
7.) 1933-1934 -9.63°F
8.) 1974-1975 -9.43°F
9.) 1975-1976 -9.30°F
10.) 1948-1949 -9.00°F

* December 1924 is missing.

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 2000-2001 8.50°F
2.) 2015-2016 8.13°F
3.) 2002-2003 7.53°F
4.) 1976-1977 6.73°F
5.) 2014-2015 5.37°F
6.) 1985-1986 4.60°F
7.) 1944-1945 4.47°F
8.) 1941-1942 4.43°F
9.) 1928-1929 4.27°F
10.) 2013-2014 4.13°F

Top 10 Coolest High Temperature Winter
1.) 1924-1925 0.90°F*
1.) 1964-1965 2.50°F
2.) 1970-1971 3.53°F
3.) 1942-1943 4.27°F
4.) 1946-1947 4.57°F
5.) 1955-1956 4.60°F
6.) 1933-1934 5.20°F
7.) 1974-1975 5.30°F
8.) 1968-1969 5.33°F
9.) 1973-1974 5.63°F
10.) 1975-1976 5.67°F

* December 1924 is missing.

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 2000-2001 21.43°F
2.) 2015-2016 20.47°F
3.) 2002-2003 19.30°F
4.) 1976-1977 18.87°F
5.) 1928-1929 18.23°F
6.) 1944-1945 18.17°F
7.) 1985-1986 17.97°F
8.) 2014-2015 17.80°F
9.) 1941-1942 17.63°F
10.) 1986-1987 17.57°F

Top 10 Wettest Winter
1.) 1928-1929 11.89
2.) 1934-1935 11.55
3.) 1943-1944 11.26
4.) 1927-1928 10.88
5.) 1931-1932 10.78
6.) 1984-1985 10.65
7.) 2000-2001 10.61
8.) 1991-1992 10.38
9.) 1989-1990 10.26
10.) 1930-1931 10.22

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 1924-1925 3.12*
1.) 1968-1969 4.13
2.) 1929-1930 5.47
3.) 1949-1950 5.52
4.) 1977-1978 5.78
5.) 1973-1974 5.84
6.) 1933-1934 5.87
7.) 2009-2010 5.87
8.) 1981-1982 5.93
9.) 1972-1973 6.07
10.) 1935-1936 6.17

* December 1924 is missing.

The coldest winter since 1925 occurred in 1964-1965, while the warmest is 2000-2001. The wettest winter is 1928-1929, while driest is 1968-1969. Some of Alaska’s warmest winters occurred when the Lower 48 was cold. It shows if it is cold in the Lower 48, it is more likely to be warmer in Alaska. The cold air has to go somewhere. It is largely due to upper level ridging over Alaska, called the East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). It is largely affected by “The Blob”, which I created a data called the Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP). The warmer the NEPWP is, the more negative EPO is.

Data came from Divisional Data Select, National Temperature and Precipitation Maps, and NOAA/NCEI Climate Division data: Mapping and Analysis Web Tool

2016-2017 Winter Forecast

Wow, time flies fast. Every year, time flies faster and it is almost Christmas. Winter is upon us again. Last winter we had a strong El Nino. This time around, we have Neutral conditions, neither La Nina or El Nino. Usually when there is a strong El Nino, La Nina follow. Not this time around. Other factors to consider are Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Roaring Forties, Equatorial Indian Ocean, and Tropical South Atlantic. However, since this El Nino is large and strong and has significant impact, it will weigh in more than other factors listed. Since, we have a strong El Nino, here are my analog winters. Here are the analog winters I came up with.

1878-1879
1897-1898
1900-1901
1912-1913
1919-1920
1926-1927
1931-1932
1958-1959
1983-1984
2003-2004

I chose these winters because the previous winter was El Nino as they are mostly strong El Nino’s. Those analog had weak La Nina or Neutral. Here is a table I created to identify strongest analogs.

Year ENSO Strong AMO PDO NEPWP EIOI TSAI R40I Total
1878-1879 1 1   1 1   1 5
1897-1898 1 1 1 1       4
1900-1901 1 1 1 3
1912-1913 1 1
1919-1920 1 1
1926-1927 1 1 1 3
1931-1932 1 1 1 1       4
1958-1959 1 1 1 1 1 1   6
1983-1984 1   1 1 1 1 1 6
2003-2004   1 1 1 1 1 1 6

I look at seven ocean patterns based on November averages. The cutoff for further analysis is four. We can eliminate these winters.
1900-1901
1912-1913
1919-1920
1926-1927

The analogs I will be looking at are
1878-1879
1897-1898
1931-1932
1958-1959
1983-1984
2003-2004

Let’s start with the ever important temperature. All divisional temperatures and rainfall were plotted with NOAA/NCDC Climate Division data: Mapping and Analysis Web Tool. All maps were generated with 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites.

2016-2017_analog_divisional_temperature_standardizedanomaly-strongest-analog

This is a climate division map of the Lower 48. It does not have 1878-1879. Most of America saw cooler than normal winter, especially in Utah and Colorado. It is also colder in Texas. This would suggest a cooler than normal winter for most of America. The exception is in the Southeast where it is either normal or slightly warmer. What effects does it have around the world?

2016-2017_analog_wintertemperatureanomaly_world-strongest-analog

This one has 1878-1879. Alaska, Kamchatka Peninsula, Southeast Asia, India, Central Asia, and Arctic look to be cooler than normal. The Eastern Tip of Russia, Southeast US, Northeast Canada, North Central Siberia, Sudan, and Chad are warmer than normal. If one is wondering what the winter of 1878-1879 was like, here it is.

djf-1878-1879_wintertemperatureanomaly

It was cooler winter for North America with the exception of Northeast Canada and Greenland. It was also cooler throughout Siberia and Arctic. The NWS New York City has data from 1869 from Central Park. The first one is Normals and Extremes Central Park, NY (1869 to Present) and Average Monthly & Annual Temperatures at Central Park. The winter of 1878-1879 was a cold one with an average of 29.2°F. The average winter temperature in New York City is 35.1°F, which is 6 degrees below normal. The NWS Chicago shows a cooler than normal winter in 1878-1879, but not super cold. The previous winter of 1877-1878 is the warmest on record. It remains the warmest winter to this day. Chicago’s warmest winters occur in El Nino winters. No surprise there as the jet stream goes further south than usual. All Columbus, Ohio Data has the worst winters and 1878-1879 is considered one of the worst winters for Columbus. This would suggest that 1878-1879 was a cold winter for America including Texas.

The reason for 1878-1879 winter to be cold is due to negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO), which is ridging over Northeast Canada and Greenland. A positive NAO and AO is troughing over Greenland and Northteast Canada.

djf-1878-1879_winter500mbgeopotentialanomalynh

What does the upper level look like in analog winters?

2016-2017winter500mbgeopotentialanomalynh-strongest-analog

There is ridging south of Iceland, South of Bering Sea, and North Central Siberia. There is troughing over Eastern Russia, off the Eastern Seaboard of US, and Western Canada. This would suggest that cold blasts will be from the NAO rather than East Pacific Oscillation (EPO) and West Pacific Oscillation (WPO). It shows that if EPO and WPO are positive, while NAO is negative, there can be cold blasts. Keep in mind, EPO, WPO, and NAO can change quickly.

Wonder what winter will be like in the rain department?

2016-2017_analog_divisional_rain_standardizedanomaly-strongest-analog

From Texas to Maine, it looks to be wetter than normal. Same goes with part of the Midwest and Western US. California looks to be somewhat drier than normal. Again, this does not include 1878-1879, which I have included.

djf-1878-1879_winterprecipitationanomaly_world

Florida, California, Scandinavia, Iceland, Iran, Korea, Japan, and Western Canada were drier than normal in 1878-1879. It was very wet in Texas, Hawaii, Southwestern US, Caribbean, Spain, Portugal, France, Mediterranean region of Europe and Southwest Asia, and India in 1878-1879. Here is a worldwide map with the analogs.

2016-2017_analog_winterprecipitationanomaly_world-strongest-analog

It is the same general areas that are wet and dry. Interestingly, Western Canada is wetter, while Southwest is drier in analog winters. Texas has an average rainfall in analog winters.

How were winters like in these analog years? Were there cold blasts? Cold events are either in America or Texas. Rankings are temperature average since 1895.

1878-1879
Many areas in Northern US experience colder than normal winters.
1878 was a cold year for Europe, especially for United Kingdom.
The previous winter of 1877-1878 was very warm. In fact it is known as the year without winter in 1877.

Ranking
N/A

1897-1898
Reports of sleet fell on December 3-4, 1897 in Houston.
Cold blasts hits Houston in early January 1898. A low of 27°F on January 2, 1898.

Ranking
America’s 58th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 63rd coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 47th coldest winter on record.

1931-1932
Houston was struck by a cold blast in March. Snow fell on March 10-11, 1932 in Houston. It remains the latest measurable snowfall to fall in Houston. A low of 27°F occurred on March 9, 10, and 13, 1932.

Ranking
America’s 104th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 87th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 89th coldest winter on record.

1958-1959
A cold blasts hits Texas in early January 1959. A low of 21°F was recorded on January 4, 1959 in Houston. Another cold blasts hits two weeks later with low of 25°F on January 22, 2016.

Ranking
America’s 38th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 24th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 20th coldest winter on record.

1983-1984
December 1983 had a huge cold blasts that set many records throughout America. Many areas experienced their coldest Christmas on record.

Ranking
America’s 19th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 8th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 10th coldest winter on record.

2003-2004
Northeast US was hit by cold blasts in January 2004. Boston had their coldest January since 1893. Many areas saw over 100 inches of snow, especially in Northern New York.
Snow fell in San Antonio and Austin on Valentine’s Day 2004.

Ranking
America’s 78th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 88th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 51st coldest winter on record.

I am not suggesting we will see a cold blast on par with December 1983 or January 2004. It is possible this winter could see a cold blast. Interesting to note that 1958-1959 and 1983-1984 were cold winters for America and Texas.

I think this winter could be a cooler winter. I would not be surprised to hear of a major cold blast this coming winter. It should be an interesting one for sure.