Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Weather columnist Kevin Myatt: Second warmest winter gets extra day
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Roanoke's warmest winter in more than 60 years gets bonus time today.
Winter for the sake of meteorological statistics concludes with the end of February. Because of this being a leap year, February gets a 29th day today — an extra day of relatively mild temperatures that will likely maintain the winter's average temperature as the second warmest on record in a century of official Roanoke weather records.
Through Tuesday, Roanoke's average temperature for the winter stood at 43.1 degrees. That pulls the 2011-12 winter into a tie for second warmest with 1948-49.
Today's forecast temperatures in the 40s and 50s amid occasional showers are likely to maintain that average, with at least some chance of warmer temperatures than expected nudging the 2011-12 winter a decimal higher into second place by itself.
The warmest winter on record — not just for Roanoke, but for many locations in the central and eastern U.S. — was 1931-32. Roanoke's temperature averaged 46.5 degrees that winter. That will remain the warmest by more than 3 degrees, a huge margin for a seasonal average.
Blacksburg's records do not go far enough back in time to encompass 1931-32 or 1948-49, but this winter will also end up not being its warmest on record.
Averaging 37.6 degrees through Tuesday, it appears Blacksburg will conclude its fourth warmest winter on record today, or possibly tie for third with 1991-92 at 37.7 degrees.
Blacksburg's warmest winter on record was 1956-57 at 39 degrees. Its second warmest was the first one for which there is official data — 1952-53 — at 38.7 degrees.
Average temperatures in each of the two previous winters were below normal at Roanoke and Blacksburg, so this winter has provided quite a contrast to those.
All indications are that above-normal temperatures will remain dominant into at least the first half of March, perhaps beyond.
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