Preliminary March Summary
March was warm and dry for Northern Arizona. This winter has been a see-saw for us. February was cold and wet. January was dry, with near-normal temperatures. And, not to be left out from the oscillations, December was warm and wet. What the heck?
If I carefully pick the months I include in my definition for winter, I can get the results I want to justify my forecast from last fall. So, let’s take a look at all the data from October through March. Here are the departure from the historic averages.
Departure from averages for winter 2010-2011
Idare you to find a trend in that data. Maybe a trend to drier than normal, but even that’s a stretch. And look at the temperature variation. We had some unusual global conditions that drove our winter this year. I have mentioned many of them. A big factor is that with the shift in the Pacific sea surface temperatures to cold levels, global temperatures erased the global warming of the last century.
- Global Temperatures – AMSU Discover Data
That drop in global temperatures shifted weather patterns. Also, the only place that was really warm on the planet was the Arctic. Again, this shifted the storm track farther south. This brought us our several large storms.
The weather service track September to September precipitation. As of March 31, 2011, they were reporting 13.17 inches since September 1, 2010. This is 1.67 inches below normal. Since January 1, they reported 4.26 inches, or 3.10 inches below normal. So, I could claim I was right about the winter, but I think that would be misleading. Especially given the drought monitor data from NOAA.
US Drought Monitor
If I had been forecasting for any place but Flagstaff, I may have gotten it right. If you add December into the January-March data, we have had 6.5 inches of precipitation, which is roughly 1.5 inches below normal. So, less than normal, but we didn’t end up with a drought. But, the snow definitely has had staying power. Also, the word is that Arizona Snowbowl had new and better capabilities for managing their snow this year. That led to a very long season.
I think my forecast was a near miss for this winter.