Don’t Panic Yet! Our Memory is Short!

2015-12-23 07:43:52.000 – Ed Bergeron, Weather Discovery Center


Today’s weather blog comes from the MWO headquarters in North Conway, where most of us live anyway.

Last week there was a meeting in our conference room presented by the League of Conservation Voters where ski and lodging industry leaders spoke of the negative impact of recent warm temperatures and lack of snow on the local economy. Since winter began at 11:59 PM last night the concern and doomsday predictions may be a little premature. Let’s explore some temperature and snow climatology from the recent past.

In regards to snow, our memory of abundant snow in the last few winters may be fresh in our mind but we’ve had low snow winters in the past. According to the NOAA NOW Daily Almanac, for December 22nd we had no snow on the ground in North Conway in 2006, 2010, 2011 and only a trace on the ground in 2002. The average mean snowfall for December, since 1999, is 16.8 inches which is considerable more than 0.1 inches we’ve had to date in 2015. Low snow Decembers (since 1999) include 1999 with 2.4 inches, and 3.0 inches in 2006. With 10 days left in December, and a trend toward colder temperatures once the near term warming trend passes, we could exceed both years with a minimal snowfall. Let’s keep our figures crossed!

Record warm temperatures are keeping local snow makers from covering the slopes  for the upcoming Christmas vacation but let’s examine the record here too. According to NOAA NOW data, the monthly average mean temperature for December (since 1999)is 25.5 degrees. The average maximum temperature was 32.1 reached in 2001 and the average minimum temperature was 20.7 degrees in 2007. So far December 2015 yields an average daily temperature of 35.8 degrees, 10.3 degrees above normal. This year the average maximum temperature is 44.3 degrees, 12.2 degrees above normal and the average minimum is 27.3 degrees or 6.6 degrees above normal. With only 10 days left and above average temperatures forecast, it looks like we are  headed for a record warm December 2015.

Looking farther back, I examined Joe Dodge’s COOP Observer records for the 1960s. On December 22nd  throughout the 60s there was 4 to 16 inches of snow on the ground with a record 22 inches in 1970 but only a trace on the ground in 1966. Temperatures however seem to indicate that it was considerably colder in the 1960s with a daily average temperature for December 22nd of only 33 degrees.

So what conclusion does my pseudo-scientific analysis arrive at? Whether it is here in the Valley or on the Summit, if you don’t like the weather, be patient, it is going to change!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Ed Bergeron, Weather Discovery Center

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