Winter doesn’t officially arrive until Sunday, December 21, 2008, however, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be checking the calendar. The cold temperatures have arrived and arrived early. The last two weeks of November were chilly to downright cold across the United Sates and into Canada. Looking at past weather patterns, the U.S. hasn’t seen a November like this in nearly 20 years.
The overall pattern right now is very similar to the late fall/early winter of 1989-90. In that year, the first half of November was unusually balmy across much of the nation. Then, on November 16, a long line of severe thunderstorms swept through the central and eastern states, producing an outbreak of tornadoes in Alabama. Farther to the north in Newburgh, NY, tornado-strength winds blew down a freestanding cafeteria wall, killing eight students and injuring 18 others. Though the event was officially recorded as a F1 tornado, it was later determined that it was actually an intense downburst.
All of these things came at the end of long stretch of well-above normal temperatures, and immediately following that event, came six-weeks of intense cold, with temperatures nationwide averaging about 6 to 12 degrees below normal.
Now think back to a few weeks ago: once again, the central and eastern U.S. experienced a sharp front accompanied by showers and thunderstorms, with a few of the storms verging on severe. A tornado watch was posted up into parts of NY State and New England. Prior to that, we went through a couple of unusually mild weeks with well-above normal temperatures in many localities.
Then we were plunged into a deep freeze, which according to the Farmers’ Almanac and other sources, could last right through early December.
But here is the interesting part: In 1989, after a near-record cold December, temperatures for January, February, and March of 1990 averaged almost 6 degrees ABOVE normal! January 1990 almost made up for December by averaging more than 9 degrees above normal!
So. . . if this pattern is repeating now, it “could” mean that after a frigid December, the rest of the winter might actually turn rather mild.
Will this actually happen? The Farmers’ Almanac winter forecast is projecting colder-than-normal weather will persist for the next several months.
Stay tuned! Remember, “Numb’s” the word!
— Caleb Weatherbee, Farmers’ Almanac Prognosticator