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Richmond has its fourth warmest Winter on record

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Some people are calling the Winter of 2011 to 2012 in Richmond the “Winter that wasn’t,” and for a valid reason. After preliminary data indicated Richmond had its fifth warmest Winter on record, the official report is out this week one-upping that number to the fourth spot! According to newly-released climate data from Larry Brown at the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Richmond International Airport reported an average temperature of 44.5 degrees Fahrenheit, making this Winter the fourth warmest on record.

Meteorological Winter includes the months of December, January and February.  This Winter’s hottest temperature was February 24, 2012 at 81 degrees. The coldest temperature was 17 degrees from January 4, 2012.  Here are some more statistics on this Winter from the release:

BASED ON THE PERIOD
1981-2010...THE NORMAL WINTER VALUE IS 39.9 F. THE TOP 5 WARMEST
WINTER SEASONS ARE LISTED BELOW:

1) 49.8 F (1889-90)
2) 46.6 F (1931-32)
3) 44.6 F (1948-49)
4) 44.5 F (2011-12)
5) 44.2 F (1949-50)

IN GENERAL...CONSISTENCY WAS MORE NOTABLE THAN EXTREMES THIS
WINTER...TAKING NOTE THAT THE NUMBER OF DAYS WITH HIGHS OF 70 F OR
HIGHER WAS NOT THAT MUCH ABOVE AVERAGE:

# DAYS WITH A HIGH OF 70 F OR HIGHER:

2011-12:          6 DAYS
AVERAGE:          5 DAYS
MOST ON RECORD:  13 DAYS (1975-76)
LEAST ON RECORD:  0 DAYS (HAS OCCURRED IN MULTIPLE SEASONS)

THE LACK OF COLD AIR CAN BE SEEN IN THE NUMBER OF DAYS THAT HAD A
HIGH TEMPERATURE COLDER THAN 40 F:

2011-12:          6 DAYS
AVERAGE:         18 DAYS
MOST ON RECORD:  44 DAYS (1917-18)
LEAST ON RECORD:  1 DAY  (1931-32)

Snowfall was well below average (5.6 inches below normal, to be exact) with just 4.0 inches at RIC, all of which fell on Feb. 19-20, 2012. Just a Trace of snowfall was reported in January, with not a single flake in December 2011.

As for liquid precipitation, Richmond International Airport accumulated 6.71 inches this Winter, which was 2.35 inches below the average.

So why the update from preliminary data indicating our fifth warmest to fourth warmest Winter? Larry Brown explains:

“At Richmond, we have daily data going back to 1897…and monthly/seasonal data (from some very old climate books) going back to 1880/81.  After reviewing the data closely, and without any supporting daily data for the 1890-91 season, I determined that the 1890-91 season at Richmond was erroneous compared to surrounding sites.  For example, Norfolk, which we have daily data available back to 1874 was about 2 F cooler than Richmond’s value of 46.1 F for that season.  Since 1897 when both Richmond and Norfolk have daily data there has never been a winter season when Norfolk’s avg temperature has been cooler than Richmond’s.  Therefore, I “threw out” the 1890-91 season.”

Thank you, Larry, for providing this extra information to our Winter summary!

For you snow lovers, there can still be wild Winter weather, even well into Spring (as evidenced by the Clipper snowstorm March 5, 2012). Check out some of these historic Spring snowfalls in Richmond:

Note that April 28 is the latest day that snow has ever fallen in Richmond.

Join the conversation with Carrie about the “Winter that wasn’t” at her Facebook page here!

Stay with CBS 6, we’ll keep you ahead of the storm.

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