Wacky Winter Continues; Change on the Way
Jan 11, 2012
It is January right? According to my calendar it is. But I’m worried I may have a Rip van Winkled my way to spring and missed the usual cold of winter.
In fact, the second week of January is only drawing to a close. Yet it seems like most of the country is stuck in a prolonged January thaw. That is about to change.
A house is buried in snow in the fishing town of Cordova, AK.
Photo by: (Alaska Division of Homeland Security, Erv Petty/AP)
, I wrote about the lack of snow across the US. However, it seems Alaskans have received more than their fair share of snow. According to Accuweather
, the town of Valdez received 66.9 inches of snow between the first of January and the ninth – 99% of the average January snowfall for the town. Since December 1st
, the town received more than 18 feet of snow. But Alaska, where snow is far from a rarity, isn’t the only place with more snow than normal. This week, western Texas saw its seasonal snowfall record shattered.
Yes, you read that correctly- Texas.
On Monday, Midland, TX broke a snowfall record which stood since the winter of 1946-47. The previous record for the most seasonal snowfall was 13.9”. So far, during the 2011-12 winter, Midland is just shy of 20” of snow. On Monday, Midland recorded 10.6” of snow, topping a 1998 single day record of 9.8”. Midland’s seasonal snowfall average is 4.9” – that means the city saw more than twice its seasonal average in one day!
The good news for western Texas is any precipitation, no matter what form, is welcome. The snow follows the driest year on record. A snowpack that melts slowly will soak into the ground at a better rate than a downpour, which tends to runoff.
|US Drought Monitor map for the southern states, effective Jan 5. 2012. Photo by US Drought Monitor/US Dept. of Agriculture.
The same storm system which brought snow to west Texas brought torrential rains to east Texas. The Houston area saw more than 4 inches of rain on Monday; however, runoff caused flash flooding around the city. While the rain will also bring some short-term relief to farmers and ranchers, it certainly was not a drought-buster. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor
, nearly all of Texas remains in a drought.
Winter Set to Return?
By midweek, more winter-like weather is expected to move into the US with temperatures tumbling across the Upper Midwest and winter precipitation across the Appalachian Mountains and interior New England.
While areas across the Upper Midwest saw record highs on Tuesday, residents can expect temperatures to plummet 20 to 30 degrees on Wednesday and remain cold through the weekend, with single digit and even sub-zero lows.
As I mentioned in my last blog post
Expert Senior Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler warned of just such a scenario. Without snow to insulate the winter wheat, sub-zero temperatures could stunt or reduce this year’s crop.
|Cold weather is making a comeback - are you prepared?
The cold air will stick around too as a major shift in the jet stream will bring reinforcing shots of cold air across the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeast. With the cold air comes an increased risk of Lake Effect snows and Alberta Clipper systems which could mean quick accumulations of snow.
While there are no monster snowstorms on the horizon for now, winter is far from over.