Today is the first of March and the start of meteorological spring. How did this past winter compare to average? And what can we expect for spring?
I can't believe how fast time flies! It's already the first of March, which also marks the start of meteorological spring! You may be asking what the difference is between meteorological spring and astronomical spring (the one that always starts around the 20th or 21st of March).
Meteorological spring is how climate data is measured. It's easier for meteorologists to group the seasons into months. It's broken down like this: meteorological spring includes March, April, and May; meteorological summer: June, July, August; meteorological fall: September, October, November; and meteorological winter: December, January, February, and March.
Astronomical seasons begin when the spring and fall equinox occur and at the summer and winter solstice. These times are determined based on the sun's tilt and alignment over the equator.
Since yesterday was the last day of meteorological winter, I thought it would be interesting to look back at December, January, and February to see what stood out. Both December and January ended above average. December averaged 5.6° higher than average and January was 4.3° milder than average. February; however, was 0.7° below average. This makes February only the 3rd month, in the past 23 months, below average.
On to the snow. Sorry snow-lovers. It was a very uneventful snow season in Washington. The average snowfall for meteorological winter in D.C. is 13.6". Between December, January, and February, D.C. got a whopping 1.5" (yes, a bit of sarcasm there). This total actually ties for the 6th lowest meteorological winter snowfall. The lowest snowfall in a December, January, February period was back in the winter of 1972-1973 with 0.1". So I guess it could be worse, snow-lovers.
This doesn't mean since we're switching the calendar to march and meteorological season to spring that we can't get any snow. Remember the blizzard of '93? Colleague Alex Liggitt wrote up a great blog on all the March averages and extremes from precipitation, to temperatures, and even severe weather. Check it out!