Tuesday, August 4, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 5:32 PM
Blossom sighting -- in Tokyo, anyway. Our turn will come. (Reuters)

The persistence of below-normal temperatures since the end of January has been amazing, if not irritating, but the government did say Tuesday it sees signs that the seasons actually will change.

With the month in its final hours, the February-March period is going to finish with an average temperature barely above freezing in Philadelphia, at 32.8, about 7 degrees below normal.

In the 142 years of recordkeeping, this will become the sixth-coldest such period, and the coldest since 1978, No. 5 on the list.

POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2015, 11:42 AM
Dr. David Dvorin, the region's pollen-counter, at work; season a slow starter, but it's coming.. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)

Spring-deprivation has had at least one benevolent side effect: It has deferred the annual tree-pollen season and its related irritations to the allergic.

No one has quite figured out how to predict how severe a given season will be, but like spring, summer, fall, and winter, we know that it’s coming even if we don’t know that it will bring.

Like the winter of 2014-15, itself, this one has been a late-starter, and we have been treated to a prolonged bud season with the trees swollen with the subtle colors of the incipient spring.

POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2015, 11:03 AM
Tornado damage in Oklahoma: Better never than late. (AP)

That tornado outbreak in the heart of Tornado Alley Wednesday finally put an end to what was a record run.

Until this year, March 23 was the record for the latest appearance of a first tornado in the month notorious for its violent clashes of contrasting air masses.

In all, eight tornados were reported, including an EF2 that touched down in Osage County, Okla., packing winds of up to 135 m.p.h., and cutting a path 800 yards wide and traveling 9 miles, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 6:32 PM
Snowy scene from last March, which was about as cold as this one. (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

Only 16 times in 142 years has the official temperature in Philadelphia failed to above 40 on a March 24. Yet it happened Tuesday (high, 40, or 16 degrees below normal), and on March 24, 2014 (high, 36).

Last March finished 4.6 degrees below normal in Philly; this March is on a similar pace, sitting at minus-4.2 through Tuesday.

That's not all the Marches have in common.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 1:20 PM
Thankfully, not a single one of these has been sighted in the United States this year. (Tano Pecoraro / Associated Press)

For the first time since reliable recordkeeping began back in 1950, not a single tornado has been reported in March in that world tornado capitol, the United States of America.

The previous longest wait for  March tornado occurred in 1969, when a sighting wasn’t confirmed until March 23, according to Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla.

The atmosphere almost certainly will get friskier, and soon, and thunderstorms are possible around here on Thursday.

POSTED: Monday, March 23, 2015, 2:44 PM
Icicles on power lines after a February fire in Philly; it's been a cold two months around here. (ap)

After quite a mild start, winter asserted itself on Jan. 26, and so far hasn’t paid much attention to the vernal equinox, with the longer term outlooks showing continued below-normal temperatures.

Since Jan. 26 through Sunday, the official temperature at Philadelphia International Airport was 31.2 degrees, with only 11 of the 56 days seeing above-normal temperatures.

That made it the coldest such eight-week period since 1978, and the ninth-coldest in records dating to  1874.

POSTED: Saturday, March 21, 2015, 7:21 AM
Alex Udowenko of West Philadelphia clears snow from his car. Totals of up to seven inches were reported throughout the region. (MEAGHAN POGUE / Staff Photographer)

March 20 most certainly is late for a significant snowfall in the Philadelphia region, and astronomically speaking winter officially became toast at 6:45 p.m.

The atmosphere, however, often is slow to take the hint. In fact, in about half the winters in the period of record dating to 1885, snow has been measured officially in Philadelphia on March 20 or later; actually, on 100 different days.

This is probably not the time to share this fact,  but 45 of them were in April, and not all of them would fall in the “nuisance” category.

POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2015, 11:28 AM
Snow at Elkins Park; higher up you are, more snow you'll get. (Jeff Gammage/Staff)

This has been a classic March snowfall, one of those days when you might see snow on Billy Penn’s hat above City Hall, and nothing on the ground.

When they start coming in, snow totals are going to vary widely, and not just by location – but by elevation.

As often happens in March when temperatures are borderline, the region’s irregular topography is going to be a huge factor in whom gets what.

About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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