Tucson had warmest winter on record, weather service says

2014-03-03T08:27:00Z 2014-03-03T13:21:18Z Tucson had warmest winter on record, weather service saysTony Davis Arizona Daily Star
March 03, 2014 8:27 am  • 

UPDATE: Traffic alert. This item was posted this morning on the Drudge Report, in the right column. It came right below a headline saying, "Obamacare Exchange Accidentally Enrolls Illegal Aliens," and another one, "Dear climate change deniers, don't buy shares in Apple."

Here's the item that's making headlines around the world:

If it didn't feel like winter to you in the past few months, it's no surprise.

The National Weather Service reports that Tucson just finished its warmest December-February on record, beating an earlier record from winter 1980-81. Records have been kept in this city by the service since 1895.

In that period, Tucson's average temperature hit 56.9 degrees, or .3 of a degree warmer than the previous record, the weather service says. The 2013-14 average finished 3.7 degrees above normal. It was particularly pushed up by warm days. The average high temperature for the period was 4.9 degrees above normal.

Frosts were particularly rare, with Tucson International Airport recording only two days in this period in which the temperature sank to 32 or lower, the weather service says. That tied with three other winters for the fewest number of frosts on record, the others being 1940-41, 1979-80 and 1994-95, the weather service says. This winter's coldest day was only 31 degrees, on Dec. 10.

This was also the 15th driest winter on record, with .84 inches of rain falling in the period at the Tucson International Airport, the weather service said. That was almost two inches below normal. The airport recorded no measurable rain for 44 straight days ending Feb. 2, making for the 16th longest such streak during the winter, the weather service says.

January-February 2014 was also the warmest such period on record, and the temperatures were more extreme without December in the mix. The average temperature -- not the average high temperature -- in that time was 4.9 degrees above normal, the weather service says. For those with short memories, the weather service points out that January-February 2013 was the 28th coldest such period on record, coming a year after the 14th warmest January-February on record in 2012. January-February 2014 was also the fourth driest such period on record at the airport, which recorded .01 inch in that period.

Technically, of course, winter won't be over spring arrives March 20. But the warmth isn't going away in the meantime.

The federal Climate Prediction Center, which like the weather service operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecasts enhanced probabilities of above normal temperatures during the coming months. While there are equal probabilities of normal, below normal or above normal precipitation in that period, the region's current drought conditions are at the same time likely to deteriorate across the metro area, the center says.

In mid-November, the same Climate Prediction Center was right when it  called for enhanced probabilities for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation, the weather service added.

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