The Language of Numbers

2007-10-11 23:36:10.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist


Numbers, a universal language. A one here means one the world over. Some numbers can evoke a feeling of luck like the number 7. Some can evoke a feeling of fear like the number 13. Alone, 11 and 7 are just quantities but combined, they represent a location known for slushees. The number 6288 is meaningless unless feet is attached and anyone familiar with Mount Washington knows that as our elevation. When descriptors are added to numbers, they provide meaning and context to people reading them. In meteorology, everything is about numbers; winds, temperature, visibility, cloud height, weather maps, time, etc. They can describe what has happened, what is happening and what will be happening. I will be describing what has happened from here on out.

To show you the power of numbers, lets look at last months statistics. The numbers found were: 44.5, 4.1, 65, 23, 5.33, -3.22, 1.87, 0.8, -1.4, 1.4, -1.0, 0.8, 32.7, 3.3, 95, 11, 0, 39, 4, 11, 15, 25, 12, and 1. But what do these all mean? Alone, nothing but as a whole, a window to the weather that occurred during the month of September 2007. Let me give them some context to make that weather window a bit clearer for you.

The first four are our temperature stats. The average temperature was 44.5 which was 4.1 degrees above the thirty year normal. Our high was 65F on the 19th and our low as 23F on the 16th. The next three are our precipitation stats. The summit received 5.33 inches of precipitation which was 3.22 below the thirty year normal. The maximum received was 1.87 inches on the ninth and tenth. The next four digits in the string deals with our snowfall. We received 0.8 inches of snow/sleet/hail which was 1.4 inches below our 30 year normal. So far we have received 1.4 inches since July which is 1 inch below our normal. The maximum we received was 0.8 inches on the 15th. The next five in the string deal with our winds. The average wind speed for the month was 32.7 mph which was 3.3 mph above our normal. Our peak wind was 95 mph from the NW on the 15th (the highest so far for the weather year starting in July). There were 11 days with winds 73 mph or more (category 1 hurricane) but 0 with 100 mph or more. The rest of the numbers represent clouds, sunshine, and weather days. The summit received 39% of the possible sunshine minutes. There were 4 days that were clear, 11 that were partly cloudy and 15 that were cloudy. The summit had fog for 25 days, rain for 12 days, and snow on 1 day.

So what can be said from these numbers? It was warmer than normal, drier than normal, winder than normal, and foggy as usual for the month of September. Although our weather year is still young (weather year is from July 2007 until June 2008 as a reminder), there are a few things that concern me. The first is our three month total of precipitation which is 5.98 inches below normal. That is a lot of precipitation to make up. The second is our three month total of snowfall which is one inch below normal. Not impossible to make up but most of us are avid skiers and we want more. But October the past two years has had an ace up its sleeve so let’s hope for some great numbers in the days ahead.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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