January has finally come to an end and here in Syracuse it is first and foremost going to be remembered for its cold. Dave Longley did a great job in putting our January numbers into perspective in his last blog. It was the coldest January since 2009. Let me just add a few things to what he said. At 19.9 F our mean temperature for this January places us as just the 21st coldest January on record in Syracuse since 1922. Here is the complete list.
This doesn’t even include the years 1903 through 1921. I didn’t have access to them when I wrote this blog. The bottom line is for all the talk of the cold weather this month (and mind you, it was impactful) January 2014 barely ranks in the all-time coldest Januarys. Heck, we didn’t even break a daily record low during last month!
These days, right or wrong, perception is driven by the overload of coverage of weather on a national scale whether it be on the TV networks, cable TV and the internet. We hear about the ‘Polar Vortex’ and all the record breaking cold in other parts of the country.
The core of the coldest air during many of the the arctic outbreaks last month ended up bypassing central New York. Instead, that coldest air plunged through the middle of the country into the Deep South. This sampling of cities in the eastern part of the country and their temperature departures from normal tells the story.
While in terms of actual temperature Syracuse may have been colder than most of these cities, compared to normal all of these cities were colder than us. Detroit managed to have their 6th coldest January as last month was the coldest January since 1977! So while Syracuse may have only had its coldest January in 5 years you had to go back 37 years in Detroit to find a comparable January in terms of cold.
In contrast to all of this, there was record heat and drought in the western United States during January and this extended north into Alaska where temperatures for the month were almost 16 F above normal!
Groundhog’s Day Cometh:
Now that we are in early February, our attention turns to the furry rodent in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. Sunday is not only the Super Bowl but also Groundhog’s Day where Phil comes out of his burrow and predicts the rest of the winter. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow there will be an early spring.
As I like to say, it really doesn’t matter what Phil says when it comes to central New York’s weather. To us, if it starts to warm up in 6 weeks (mid March) that is an early spring for us. There are snowfall numbers that seem to back up the fact that Phil’s forecasts are less than stellar.
Syracuse Snow from Feb 1st on
Phil Predicts More Winter
Phil Predicts Early Spring
There is actually a slight tendency for us to get more snow when Phil predicts and early Spring! In either case, past history tells us that we can expect, on average, another four feet of snow in Syracuse before the winter is up.
It does look like in the short term, now that the core of the bitter cold arctic air has shifted north, we are going to see a more active storm track close to central New York. This will give us at least the CHANCE for some moderate snowfalls this upcoming week. One chance comes Tuesday night into Wednesday and the next one next weekend. It is a tough call on accumulations as it looks like there may be issues with mixed precipitation in both cases. You’ll want to keep it tuned to our daily short term discussions for more details as each event approaches.
Here Comes the Sun:
If you are looking for a bit of good news, how about this: It is getting lighter. The sun will set in Syracuse at 5:17 pm Saturday evening, which is 47 minutes later than during the dark days of December. Each day we are picking up a couple of minutes of daylight when you factor in both ends of the day (sunrise and sunset) plus we are only about a month away from turning the clocks forward as we head back into Daylight Saving Time. It still may look and feel like winter out there but there are signs that the change in season will come.