Saturday, January 4, 2014

Year In Review: 2013 Was Warm, Very Wet Year

As is customary at the beginning of a New Year, we'll take a look at the previous year and see how it all stacked up.
2013 was a wet year in Vermont.
Here, July 4 flooding drowns a
Richmond swimming pool.  

Worldwide, it'll probably be the 7th warmest year on record, though various ways of measuring it only mean the year was somewhere in the top 10 warmest.  Every year in the past decade or two has been near the top of the charts in terms of global warmth.

Here in Vermont, 2013 was on the warm side and very wet.  Burlington is usually taken as the representative site in the Green Mountain State, though Burlington tends to be slightly drier than most of the rest of Vermont and relatively warm, too.

Anyway, Burlington had 44.99 inches of precipitation in 2013, making it the sixth wettest year on record. Most of the rain came during the epic storms that lasted from late May into early July.

The mean temperature for 2013 in Burlington was 47 degrees, which was 1.2 degrees warmer than normal. This, despite a cold end of the year which saw back to back cold months in November and December.

The year doesn't quite crack Burlington's top 10 list of warmest years. It's somewhere in the top 15.

The first few months of 2013 were relatively quiet, a welcome contrast to 2011 and 2012, which brought some of the most extreme and chaotic weather years in Vermont history.  However, by April and May, things began to get weird again in the weather department.

It was a windy, stormy year, a rough one for power companies in particular. After being beset by a series of particularly violent storms in  2013, Green Mountain Power just last week announced a surcharge on customers' bill to help cover the cost. On average, the surchage will be about $1.53 a month.

Here are some of 2013's weather highlights.

Jan. 30-31. After a seasonably cold first month of the year, temperatures soar to 57 and 56 degrees in Burlington on the last two days of the month. An early hint of spring.

March 20: What a difference a year makes. It was 33 degrees in Burlington on March 20, 2013, 47 degrees colder than the record heat exactly a year earlier.

Late April, early May: A dry, sunny spring before forests leafed out contributed to numerous brush fires across Vermont.  One brush fire destroyed a garage and forced the evacuation of five homes and a courthouse in Hyde Park. Other large brush fires burned in Bristol, Colchester, Milton, near St. Johnsbury and Ascutney.

May 22-23: Lines of thunderstorms repeatedly rolling over the same sections of Vermont caused severel flash floods, especially in eastern Chittenden County and parts of Lamoille County.   Several homes were damaged, and many roads were washed out, especially around Jericho, Underhill and Cambridge
It was an exceptionally stormy late spring and early summer
in Vermont. Here, menacing storm clouds loom over Fairfield.  

May 26-28: A long, cold, storm dumped prodigious amounts of rain and late season snow in Vermont. Burlington had four consecutive days with at least an inch of rain, the first time that has happened in records dating back to 1884.

On May 27, the high temperature was just 46 degrees, the lowest high temperature for so late in the season.

Many areas experienced late season snow, even in valleys. Six inches was reported in Walden, Vt, 4.5 inches near Marshfield. Some Vermont mountaintops got 18 inches of snow and the summit of Whiteface Mountain, N.Y reported three feet of snow.

May 31:   May was  the wettest on record in Burlington, with 8.74" of rain.  Some areas along the western slopes of the northern Green Mountains had more than a foot of rain during the month.

June 2: Severe thunderstorms swept much of Vermont especially in a line from west of Rutland to Fairlee, and along U.S. 2 from Montpelier to St. Johnsbury. About 14,000 homes and businesses lost power, many trees fell and hail the size of ping pong balls was reported in eastern Vermont.

Mid-June--Early July: A strangely persistent and destructive weather pattern set up over Vermont,  causing repeated rounds of flash flooding. Local floods hit all corners of the state. Many sections declared disaster areas. Damaging floods affected almost every corner of the state during the one month period of heavy downpours.

July 15-19: One of the strongest and longest heat waves in years settled into Vermont. Daily highs in Burlington were 93, 91, 95, 91 and 98.

July 19: The end of the heatwave was heralded by a band of severe thunderstorms that swept the state. Winds gusted to 52 mph in Burlington and near 70 mph in some areas. A "bow echo" line of dangerous thunderstorms concentrated the damage mostly across the northern third of Vermont.
A shelf cloud heralds the approach of a severe
thunderstorm near St. Albans Bay on July 19.  

Sept. 11: Severe thunderstorms hit parts of Vermont amid a late season hot spell that brought temperatures to the low 90s in some areas. Scattered areas of damage were reported statewide.

Oct 7: Squall line swept across Vermont, causing more power failures.

 Nov-Dec: The first back to back colder than normal months since in several years.

Dec. 20-22: Destructive ice storm struck Vermont, part of a vast ice storm stretching from Oklahoma, up through the Great Lakes, southern Ontario and into Maine. In Vermont, tens of thousands endured the cold without power, some for at least a week. Temperatures remained below freezing for days after the storm, prolonging the outages. Officials are assessing the damage in Vermont for a possible disaster declaration.

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