Sunday, January 1, 2017

Vermont Just Ended A Very Warm, Dry Year.

This image pretty much sums up Vermont's weather
in 2016, which was very warm and very dry. The
photo shows a forest fire burning in October
southeast of Richmond, Vermont amid fall foliage.
Most of the climatologists out there say 2016 was the warmest year on record.

Here in Vermont, we got close to the top spot, but not the winner.

If you take the data from the National Weather Service office in South Burlington, 2016 was the second warmest year on record.

The mean temperature for 2016 was 49.2 degrees. Only 2012 was hotter, coming in at 49.9 degrees.

Records for Burlington go back all the to the 1880s, but the top five hottest years in Burlington have happened since 1998, which is a blink of an eye in terms of climatology.

The year was definitely dry, too. The National Weather Service office in South Burlington measured just 27.73 inches of precipitation, which is about nine inches below average.

That's not among the Top 10 driest years, but you can see how the drought, that's really still ongoing in Vermont, slowly developed during the year.

Things looked OK in February, as we had the seventh wettest February on record. March rainfall was about normal, but each of the rest of 2016's months were drier than normal. None broke records for driest, but combined with the consistently warmer than normal temperatures the drought kept deepening through the year.

Wetter weather sort of returned in December, with very close to normal precipitation. Only a tiny corner of eastern Vermont is in severe drought, as opposed to much of the state a few months ago.

Most of the state is still in moderate drought. We'd better have a wet winter and spring.

Other climate highlights, as measured at the National Weather Service office in South Burlington

---- The winter of 2015-16 was the third least snowy winter on record, with just 34.3 inches of snow.  This winter, we're already up to 21 inches and it's only January 1.
---- February was the eighth warmest and sevenenth wettest on record.
---- March was the 11th warmest on record.
---- August was the warmest on record.
---- September was the second warmest on record. Only the year before - 2015 - was hotter. September was also the 7th driest on record.
----- There were 86 days in 2016 that reached 80 degrees or more in Burlington. That's more than any other year.

Storm clouds loom over Starksboro, Vermont in June.
Despite the dry conditions, there were several rounds
of severe thunderstorms in the state in 2016.
Other notable weather events in 2016:  

January 10: A strong storm brought rare mid-winter thunderstorms to much of Vermont. Strong downslope winds on the west slopes of the Green Mountains, gusting to near 70 mph, brought down numerous trees and branches, especially around Underhill and Cambridge. Burlington reached a record high of 53 degrees.

Click on this sentence for video of the Underhill/Cambridge wind.

February 24: A strong storm that brough severe weather and tornadoes to much of the eastern United States unleashed heavy rain on Vermont. Ice jams and flooding was reported along the Lamoille and Missisquoi rivers, among other places.

March 9: A high temperature of 70 degrees in Burlington was the earliest 70 degree reading on record.

April 4-6 and 26-29: Strong cold waves nipped buds that had started growing too early due to high early spring temperatures. This cut down on fall fruit harvests, and prevented many spring blossoms from blooming. Snowfall of 2 to 5 inches on April 26 made the chill seem even worse.

An isolated thunderstorm erupts over northern
New York state at sunset on July 23, as
viewed from St. Albans, Vermont
May 27-29: An early season heat wave brought temperatures into the 90s, with a record high of 91 at Burlington On May 27.

High heat and humidity cut short the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington on May 29 as heat and humidity was causing many medical problems.  

Later on May 29, severe thunderstorms ahead of an approaching cold front knocked down hundreds of trees and cut power in Franklin County.  Click here for a video of the storm in Franklin County

July 18: Severe thunderstorms caused scattered damage around northern Vermont. A supercell with a rotating wall cloud was observed over Lake Champlain near Colchester, but no tornado or waterspout touched down.  

July 22-23: Two days of severe thunderstorms caused damage throughout Vermont and killed one person. The storms on the night of July 22 produced near continuous lightning over northern Vermont.

The storms were worse on July 23. A man was killed by a falling tree in Hubbarton, and many boaters had to be rescued from Lake Champlain as the fast moving storms rolled throught. Thousands lost electricity in the high winds.

Click on this sentence to see heavy hail during one of these storms on July 23 in Shelburne, Vermont.

August 28: Storms in northwest Vermont dumped up to four inches of rain in a few hours in parts of northern Vermont north of Route 2. Flashf flood warnings were issued

Click on this setence to see a dramatic, fast moving shelf cloud with one of these storms over St. Albans, Vermont.  
Snow begins to accumulate during a
November snowstorm in St. Albans, Vermont

Late Sept/Early Oct: Scattered forest fires broke out amid foliage season in Vermont as the continuing drought left the region parched.

Oct 23-27: After what had been a rather warm October, several snowfalls hit mid and high elevations in Vermont. Jay Peak recorded 30 inches of snow over the course of the week and Bolton Valley Ski Resort logged 19 inches.

Power outages and slick roads were common in Vermont that week.

Nov. 20-21: Heavy snow caused power failures and tree damage across Vermont, especially the higher elevations of southern Vermont. Woodford, Vermont reported 26 inches of snow.

Dec. 26: High winds caused power failures and tree damage in Vermont's Champlain Valley. Winds gusted as high as 61 mph in South Hero. The Lake Champlain Ferry between Grand Isle, Vermont and Cumberland Head, NY had a rare weather-related shutdown because of the wind.

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