By DAVID GREEN
Remember what winter used to be like? Sure you do. You’re living in it now.
Nearly 20 inches of snow. Eight days at zero and below.
“It just seems like a winter from the 1980s or 90s,” said George Isobar, local climate observer for the National Weather Service. “It’s been a little light in the snow department in recent winters and we haven’t had too many below-zero days.”
The past month ended as the fourth snowiest January for Morenci in the past 40 years.
“Nothing comes close to the record year of 1978 when we had 34.7 inches,” Isobar said, “but this year was close to the next two highest on the list.”
Ten years ago in 1999, 21.7 inches fell. In 1982, 19.7 inches was recorded. Last month’s total came in at 19.2.
“Eleven inches more fell in Toledo,” Isobar noted. “They were just a tenth of an inch below the 1978 record of 30.8.”
Even with all that snowfall, the total melted precipitation was a little below average. The snow was the light, fluffy variety, but it did get heavy early in the month when it was coated with a freezing drizzle.
Typically, Isobar said, January is the snowiest month in this area, but when he looked through the records, he noticed that December has the most totals in the 20-inch range. As recently as 2000, a record 28.3 inches was recorded.
No temperature records were set in Toledo, but the mercury dipped below zero six times. In Morenci, there were five below-zero days and three with a low of zero. The low for the month was -18° on Jan. 17.
“We’ve certainly had it worse,” Isobar said. “We had 11 below-zero nights in January 1994 and 1984 and 10 in 1981. The coldest January night from the last 40 years was -23° in 1984.”
There really wasn’t any January thaw this year. The high temperature of 42°, Jan. 23, didn’t last long. The temperature was back in single digits the next day and stayed below freezing for the remainder of the month.
The average for the month, according to the National Weather Service office in Toledo, was 7.5° below normal. On Jan. 16—with a high of 2° there and a low of -14°—the average for the day was 29° below normal.
FEBRUARY—“When you look through the records for Toledo, every day of the month for January has below-zero records,” Isobar said. “It’s the same for February with the exception of Feb. 29. That record is zero.”
Even in March, half of the records are zero and below.
There might not be any records coming up, he said, but keep in mind that winter isn’t likely to be ending any time soon.
“I certainly don’t expect anything like February 1978 when we had 19 below-zero days,” Isobar said, “but there’s plenty of winter remaining. We had 14 inches of snow as recently as February 2003.”
The average monthly snowfall for January is about 10 inches and for February about 7.5 inches. And looking ahead a little further down the road, the average for March is 5.6.
But enough of this snow talk. Get ready for the weekend rain.