2018: The Year In Weather (Plus January 2019 Forecast)

2018: A Year Of Extremes (Again)

Extreme/record-setting weather has become more common in recent years and 2018 was no exception. The year started with a bang with a record low tied on New Year’s morning (-1) and a high of just 13 that day. Early January was brutal; temperatures moderated during the rest of the month and January as a whole was fairly unremarkable.

January

February…ah February. Over the last 2 years, February and March have switched places…meaning that March was COLDER than February both in 2017 and 2018. Check out that 73 on February 20!

February

I will remember 2018 as a year with very short “transition” seasons. A cold April led to a very slow “greening up” across the area but then BANG, May was very summery. September and early October were quite warm and foliage was delayed. Then, when it got cold, it pretty much stayed cold and November was more like a typical December. Click on this graphic to enlarge:

Daily Temperatures

Broken down by month:

Monthly Temps Vs. Average

In the precipitation department, well obviously it was a very wet year. The numbers were not final as of 8:30 Monday evening but the year will end up around 12″ wetter than average. Good enough for the 2nd wettest year on record.

Wettest Years on Record
Monthly Precipitation Vs. Average

There were not many “typical” months in 2018:

Monthly Extremes

January 2019 Forecast

Winter weather lovers…..you may want to read no farther. The first half of January looks mild and pretty snow-free…a continuation of the pattern we saw in the last 3 weeks of December. The second half of the month is likely to be much more typical of the season but as a whole it should be another mild month (compared to average). Our winter forecast is shaping up to be too cold and snowy but I still think February is looking better for snow and cold.

January Temperatures
January Precip Vs. Average
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Early Thoughts On White Christmas Chances

We are now close enough to Christmas that we can begin taking some educated stabs at the general weather patters around the holiday. It’s much too early for a specific forecast (something like partly sunny, high 36)  for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

The overall idea for the next several days….probably even up to 10 days is that arctic air will remain bottled up well to our north. Much of southern Canada and the US will be flooded with mild, Pacific air instead. 

 

6-10 day outlook is balmy for December. 

But this pattern is advertised to break down some by around Christmastime. The following 2 animations are from the European and GFS models, both show colder air (blue) finally making inroads sometime between the 22nd and 25th. 

GFS Model Temperature Anomalies 
European Model Temperature Anomalies 

Neither model advertises a harsh cold snap but it seems very likely that the pattern around Christmas Eve/Christmas Day will be colder than the 10 days preceding it. At the end of each animation is the few days after Christmas. The GFS suggests it stays chilly while the European tries to warm it up again. Confidence is low on which idea is right at this time. 

What about snow??? Well it seems unlikely we will see much snow over the next 10 days. Could we see some snow right around the holiday? It’s possible. 

Odds of 1″ of Snow Cover On Christmas Morning (European Model) 

The above image shows the odds of 1″ of snow on the ground (which is what we consider to be a “White Christmas”) on the morning of the 25th. Not real high odds but not zero. 

Based on the current data, I have lower-than-average odds of a White Christmas in my forecast but this number will surely change (up or down) as we get closer. 

White Christmas Odds

Some other Christmas weather stats for our area: