Friday, March 04, 2016

TOP STORY >> Hottest winter since 1931-32

Leader staff writer

Winter is over with – at least, meteorologically speaking.

The National Weather Service lists the winter season as running from the first of December to the end of February and, according to their records, this winter was warm and snowy.

The seasonal high temperature was the warmest on record since the winter of 1931-32 and the fourth warmest on record. (Records for this area go back to the 1880s.) High temperatures often hit 70 degrees or better in early and mid-December, as well as in late January and throughout February. On Dec. 26, the high temperature hit a balmy 81 degrees, the warmest winter temperature the area has seen in five years.

The seasonal low temperature was the warmest in almost 20 years. Combined, it made this winter’s average temperature the sixth warmest on record.

There were 31 days, or a full month, with temperatures at or below freezing – the fewest in four years.

Snowfall was above average for the fourth winter in a row. But it wasn’t a spread-out event. All the winter’s snow fell in January with most coming Jan. 21-22 as the area got hit with around 6 inches of snow. It caused schools and government offices to close and traffic snarls.

Even though the weather service says winter is over, central Arkansas has been known to get March snowstorms. The latest freeze date on record for central Arkansas is March 19.

Along with the snow, the rainfall was above the average with 14.07 inches during the season, which is about 2 inches above the norm. The heaviest period of rain came Dec. 27-28, when the area received about 4.25 inches of rain.