March 19, 2012
Predictions and forecasts are one thing. What counts in the end is what really happened. Now that winter is officially over, climatologists have reported the obvious- it was warmer than normal. What isn't as obvious is how warm it was, and where it ranks in history in Indiana for warm winter.
Previously, climatologists have compared years all the way back to 1895, when this sort of recordkeeping began. However, Ken Scheeringa, assistant state climatologist in Indiana, says that some of the data in those early years is now considered suspect. For most purposes, comparisons are now being made with weather records starting in 1930.
This Winter Takes Its' Place In Climate History
With that as background the winter of 2011-12 ranks fifth when average degrees per day are figured statewide, Scheeringa notes. Still, the deviation from normal, for Dec. 1 through March 1, what climatologists count as winter, was 5.4 degrees F above normal. As deviations go, especially for an entire season, that's a significant variation and deviation, he notes.
Here's how this winter falls in line with history for winters in Indiana. The warmest winter occurred in 1931-32, at 38.2 degrees. That may not seem surprising, since the 1930's were known as a warm period. However, it's the only winter in that decade on the top five on the list.
Second was 35.8 degrees in 1997-1998, followed by 35.7 degrees in 2001-2002. In fourth place was 1982-1q983, with an average temperature during the climatological winter months of 35 degrees. Then comes 2011-2012 at 34.8 degrees, in fifth place.
The obvious question follows. Is there a correlation between warm winters and what follow in spring and summer? "Not really," Scheeringa answers. "There really isn't a clear trend between what winter is like and what we will see for weather trends in the spring and summer.
The Indiana climate office will soon issue a spring forecast. The warm trend should continue into April, but May and June are still unknown quantities at this point.
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