Heating In November Means Freezing in the Winter?
One upside through all of this is that at least we aren’t using heating oil and running up heating costs or replacing heating systems. Since we are now 2/3rds through the month of November and since we seem to be on pace for some sort of record warmest or at least among the top 10 I though I would take a look at the Novembers on the warmest and coldest list and see what happened in the winter that followed.
On the warm months we have 15 months on the list due to ties so that gives us a few more to play with. Okay boys and girls here is what we get from this very small data set. This is for Central Park New York City. Im using the longer term mean of 28.5 inches and not the 30 year mean of 25
NOVEMBER WINTER SNOWFALL
AVERAGE SNOWFALL 22.72
BELOW NORMAL SNOWFALL WINTERS 11
ABOVE NORMAL SNOWFALL WINTERS 4
Based on this limited subset of data we can see that the odds favor a below normal snowfall winter. However let me make a couple of points here before snow lovers tie the noose around their necks and wrap it around a spinning ceiling fan. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME PLEASE)…when you look at 146 years of data you will find that most of the time, snowfall is below the 146 mean of 28.5 inches. So in my view seeing 4 above and 11 below normal on a set of thirteen doesn’t surprise me. Secondly I would point to the December 3 inch rule which really is a data set that just happened to work for New York City which seem to hold the notion that a December with less than 3 inches for the month means a below normal winter. It worked until it didn’t work which was last winter. Now lets look at the coldest Novembers which all were prior to 1900 except for 1 (1901).
NOVEMBER WINTER SNOWFALL
AVERAGE SNOWFALL 33.95 INCHES
BELOW NORMAL SNOWFALL WINTERS 2
ABOVE NORMAL SNOWFALL WINTERS 8
With regards to the coldest Novembers looking at the 10 coldest it seems here we stand an 80 percent chance of above normal snowfall as 8 out of 10 came in above the average of 28.5.
Conclusions from all this? Well I certainly would not make a forecast for the winter based on this rather simple data set. It is interesting that the coldest Novembers seem to lead to a winter with above normal snowfall. It is also interesting that even in the warmest Novembers we saw 4 winters that outperformed snow wise though 10 did not. And it is also interesting that the average snowfalls in both sets fall within 6 inches of the mean on either side.
Here is my bottom line. Stats are fun to look at but when you look at averages as a forecast tool you will wind up with an average performance. I think for forecasters it is more important to focus on all the other factors and trends going on. Meantime at least we are seeing a trend to normal temperatures for the next several days.