Will the coming winter be like the winter of 2002-03?September 2nd, 2013 at 11:12 am by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, Weather
Despite the occasional media hype (and attempts to tie every weather “event” to “global warming”…er I mean,”climate change”…gotta make a name change here since the Earth’s temperature has been flat since 2002), this has been a quiet year for weather “events”. While the Rim Fire in California is a big one, 4th biggest in California history (now 41% contained, having consumed approx. 225,500 acres), this has been an overall quiet year for wildfires in the U.S. (lowest in the last 10 years for the number of fires and 2nd lowest in terms of acres burned). Todd McNeal, fire chief in the town of Twain Harte, west of Yosemite, said at an Aug. 23 community meeting that officials “know it’s human caused, there’s no lightning in the area. … (We) highly suspect that it might be some sort of illicit grove, marijuana grow-type thing.” (made me wonder how “Uncle Sparkee” got that name). The pic. on the left is Typhoon Utor in the Western Pacific. So far this year, we have had 6 minimal tropical storms in the Atlantic/Caribbean. We average 6.4 hurricanes per year in the Atlantic basin and the peak of the hurricane season is Sept. 10. We had only one major hurricane globally in August, the first time we’ve had only one since 1991. The Global ACE index (a measure of the number and strength of tropical storms) was 55.5 in August, less than half of the 1981-2010 average. Everyone is still forecasting this year to end up with a higher number of hurricanes than average. Hurricane activity will ramp up in Sept., but it remains to be seen whether we can get past average in a “shortened” season.
This is both the first year since 2002 to have no hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean in August, but also the quietest year since 2002 (same year) for tornadoes in the U.S (see graph on right). So, my first thought was to look and see what the weather was like in G.R. in the winter of 2002-03. Right now, we’re progged to have the lowest number of tornadoes in the U.S. since 2002 (see graph on the right) and it’s still possible that we could set a record low number this year (2nd year in a row now with no tornadoes in W. Michigan, and the 2nd year in a row with a very low tornado count in the U.S.). Sept. 2002 was warm and pleasant, 4.3 degrees warmer than average. I’ve called for temps. in Lower MI. this month to be 1-3 deg. warmer than average. October started mild, but there was an abrupt change on Oct. 16. The 2nd half of Oct. 2002 was cloudy and cold. It never got warmer than 52 from Oct. 16-31. We had snow flurries on 3 days in late Oct. The month ended 2.9 deg. cooler than average. November was 2.2 deg. cooler than average with 7.6″ of snow. December was the only month warmer than average, but not by much, just 0.5 deg. We had 15.6″ of snow that month and a beautiful, White Christmas with 4″ of fresh snow on the ground. Jan. 2003 was 3.3 deg. cooler than average with 30.2″ of snow. February was a frigid 5.0 deg. cooler than average with 18.9″ of snow. March continued the trend, 1.3 deg. cooler than avg. with 14.4″ of snow. April was 0.6 deg. cooler than average with another 1.3″ of snow. May was 3.2 deg. cooler than average with snow flurries on May 10th. The warmest temperature in the entire month of May in G.R. that year was 75. June was 2.5 deg. cooler than avg. and July was 1.4 deg. cooler than average. August was the first month of 2003 to be warmer than average. That summer we only had 4 days that reached 90 and none higher than 92. That winter brought colder than average temperatures, higher than average snowfall (88″) and a fantastic and long winter sports season.