January/February 2018: Quite the Roller Coaster!

Posted: February 28, 2018, 12:00 am by chewitt

 As the ball dropped in Times Square in New York City, the temperature was a whopping..9 degrees under clear skies. Quite chilly! Up and down the coast the Northeast rang in 2018 in the single digits, and in many other cases, below zero. Despite this frigid pattern that held early in January, it has been rather tumultuous over the past two months. Let’s dig in.

The remnants of the late December cold was what led to 15 to 20-degree temperature anomalies, of which lasted into the first week of January. As it probably felt like too, this was a record-breaking kind of cold outbreak, especially on the 7th when temperatures continued to dive well into the single digits and below zero. Among many, Boston, MA and Hartford, CT both broke low records that morning at -2 and -9 degrees, respectively. In the middle of this too was a rather powerful coastal storm which we covered in our previous newsletter (https://www.weatherworksinc.com/Blizzard-of-2018-Recap). While the cold air mass made the news for a time, temperatures began to moderate by the 8th following a small disturbance that brought snow and a wintry mix.

 

A brief spike in warm weather arrived for the 11th and 12th, with highs reaching into the 50s and even 60s. However, a complex system allowed for rain and some interior wintry mix to fall, giving us some needed rainfall coming off a rather dry December. Having also brought cold air again, several small disturbances followed over the next few days. One of them was a storm on the 16th that brought several inches of snow mainly north of the Mason-Dixon Line, with elevations seeing over half a foot.

The rest of January then saw temperatures averaging above normal, in some cases up to 10 degrees or more for Mid-Atlantic states like Delaware and Maryland. And despite the relatively mild conditions, a coastal storm did develop on the 29th and 30th, bringing a widespread snowfall for most of the Northeast. The highest impacts were seen across Long Island and up into Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southeast Massachusetts, where up to 4 – 8 inches accumulated under heavy snowfall.

Enter February, a rain to snow event left light accumulations which ended overnight on the 2nd. The cold front that trailed this though was quite strong, quickly sending temperatures below freezing which caused a widespread freeze-up from Virginia through New England. A similar situation occurred on the 4th and 5th, with snow changing to rain which then was able to freeze once temperatures fell back below freezing. Although, this was more limited to Pennsylvania and New Jersey on north.  

 

After the first week, any semblance of a “seasonable” February quickly disappeared. While minor systems continued to affect interior locations, the temperature trend remained above normal. A swift system did impact the region on February 17th and 18th, with marginal temperatures producing a wet snow to fall across the region. The highest amounts were felt across northern New Jersey and parts of the Hudson Valley into the eastern Connecticut where up to 8 inches fell in just a matter of hours! Not only was this quick-hitting storm, the following day warmed well into the 40s under sunshine which melted away much of the snow.

Surging warmth continued into the third week of the month as temperatures soared well above normal on the 20th. Temperatures nearly everywhere across the Northeast were 20 to 30 degrees above normal with high temperatures well into the 70s and even near 80 degrees by the 21st! Washington, D.C. reached 82 degrees while Hartford, CT was not far off at 77 degrees. Many of these records not only were beating old records by huge margins, they were also shattering all-time monthly records.

Of course, though, the pleasant weather came tumbling down the day after, with not only clouds and rain but also a cold front that sagged south. Rain was able to changeover to snow and sleet but was confined to the Hudson Valley and interior New England. Rain continue to linger after before a brief warm-up closed out the month.

To wrap up, both January and February featured the tastes of many seasons in one. January’s cold spell pushed the average down to a degree below normal but much was to be desired in the precipitation department. Outside of New England, many areas along the I-95 corridor saw 1 to 2-inch precipitation deficits. February, however, was mild, to say the least, and up to 5 to 6 degrees above normal; even warm still if you exclude the record-breaking temperatures! The rain at the end of the month was much needed though, with a surplus up to 2 inches helping push back drought concerns.

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