BOSTON (CBS) — This winter has been ridiculous. All three winter months will finish with well above average temperatures. January was the third warmest on record. February will finish in the top five warmest on record. The winter months of Dec-Jan-Feb combined will finish in the top three warmest on record.
The combination of January and February 2020 will go in the books as the second-least snowy (3.6”). . . we haven’t had less snow in Jan-Feb combined since 1937!
So that begs the question. . . is winter over? Can we stick a fork in it? Or, will March smack us in the face (as it so often does) and leave a mark on what otherwise would have been a warm and snowless winter.
Let’s look at what the statistics say.
If you simply take the top 10 warmest Februarys in Boston and look at the month of March that followed, seven out of 10 stayed the course and had a warmer than average March. Five of the 10 had significantly warm months of March ranging 3 to nearly 10 degrees above the average! So by this measure, ODDS FAVOR A WARM MARCH.
OK, what if we take the top 10 warmest winters (Dec-Jan-Feb) on record in Boston and look at the March that followed? Similar story. . . six of the 10 had warmer than average months of March, again many were way over the average. So, add another check in the ODDS FAVOR A WARM MARCH column.
How about snow? Glad you asked! When looking back at the top 10 least snowy February’s and then the March that followed, we find a similar trend. Seven of the 10 months of March had below average snowfall (most were way below). So, by this measure, ODDS FAVOR LOW MARCH SNOWFALL.
So, if you just go by the numbers, I would say we have about a 60-70% chance of continuing the trend of warm and low snow this March.
Now, of course it isn’t that simple. Each of these years had different stories to tell, entirely different atmospheric setups from El Nino to La Nina, etc.
No two years are alike and the setup this winter is vastly different than many of the other warm winters when you take into account everything happening globally (from ocean temperatures to Polar Vortex).
So, there is certainly a bit more value in looking at the current overall weather pattern as we head into March and trying to see if any large scale changes are coming. The answer there is a resounding NO.
This winter has been ruled by a very tight Polar Vortex over the North Pole, trapping much of the real cold up north. Also, a persistent Alaskan trough has kept Alaska cold but had the opposite reaction in the U.S. flooding us with mild, Pacific based air.
Both of these features show no signs of relenting in March. The storm track looks to remain to our west, meaning mainly rain storms here in southern New England followed by a few days of cold. Just like the last few months, when the cold air does come, it is here for a brief spell and gone before the next storm arrives.
Maybe, just maybe, we will be golfing and hitting the soccer and baseball fields earlier this year.
Famous last words? We shall see.
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ