Archive: February, 2012
On this dreary day with rain imminent, if you were to ask people if it's been raining more around here lately, our guess is they would say "yes."
Which raises an overarching question: Why would you bother asking when you and the people you question could simply look it up?
The National Weather Service records would show that 2011 was the wettest year in Philadelphia on record and that the last several years overall have been quite wet. These are facts that we have published and posted.
With an average temperature of 40 today in Philadelphia, the "winter" of 2010-11 has become the fourth-warmest in 138 years of recordkeeping.
The average temperature for the December through February period -- the meteorological winter -- would be 40.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 6.3 degrees above the long-term winter average of 34.4.
We got through the winter without a single "cold snap," defined by National Weather Service climate guru Mark DeLisi as three consecutive days in which the temperature fails to get above 35.
Not surprisingly, the threat of any freezing precipitation anywhere near Philadelphia tomorrow is off the table.
Instead, expect a plain, old chilly rain to start late morning and continue into the evening, with totals in the 0.5- to 0.75-inch range. It's been awhile since we've had a soaking.
February has been quite mild, and it's one more reason that the winter of 2011-12 is going to be one of the warmest on record.
In the last few days, computer models have teased the region with at least the possibility of a wintry interlude that would turn the Wednesday commute into an adventure.
But the recent runs are trending warmer, and right now even the potential for precipitation to start as snow in the immediate Philadelphia area looks like a long shot.
As for anything measureable, forget it. Posting on the American Weather Forums chat board, Glenn Schwartz at NBC10 said that his in-house model "doesn't even have it snowing in the Poconos."
So far this February, Philadelphia's temperatures have averaged within a degree of what they should be for the first 23 days of March.
Officially, the normal temperature from March 1 through 23 is just under 41.5 degrees Fahrenheit; the average through February 23 this year is 40.5, or 5.2 degrees above normal.
So perhaps it is fitting that the region will be getting some March-like winds this evening, perhaps gusting past 45 m.p.h.
Yesterday, as it was becoming ever-more obvious that a winter that peaked before Halloween was only too anxious to yield to spring, the respected European forecast model was seeing a major snowstorm for next week.
It was a forecast that defied the pattern of the winter, the pattern of the atmosphere, and common sense.
This morning we can report that common sense has triumphed. The storm is off the table, and a spring warm-up looms ineluctably heading into March.
One thing we've learned is that it is almost impossible to underrate the public attention span when it comes to weather.
Thus we welcomed the PennEnvironment report, "In the Path of the Storm," which among other things, offers a neatly packaged digest of the extreme weather of the last year.
It relies heavily on data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and we caution that FEMA's disaster standards evidently aren't as tough as they used to be.
In a post yesterday we noted that the meteorological winter of 2011-12 -- that's the December through February period -- could crack into the top 3 for warmth in Philadelphia.
And it appears that if February goes out like a lamb, nature won't have to change into a new costume in March.
It will be moderately chilly during the weekend with March-like winds due Friday, but this is about to become the 12th winter in the period of record that a winter passed without a single three-day stretch of temperatures below 35 in Philadelphia.