Our not-so-brutal winter — in which we were warmer than Phoenix on most days — is now officially over, according to the meteorological method of tracking seasons.
The weeds are back; wildflowers are blooming; trees are beginning to leaf out.
Ocotillo blooms, which reliably occur throughout the month of April, are already underway, said Theresa Crimmins, assistant director of the USA Phenology Network.
It was a very mild winter in Tucson, the fourth warmest on record, with temperatures well above normal and only six nights that dipped below freezing. Our average winter temperature was 56.1 degrees — 2.9 degrees above normal.
Our average high temperature of 68.8 was warmer than the Phoenix winter average of 68.1.
Our daily highs surpassed those in Phoenix on 49 of the 90 days of meteorological winter (December-February), according to a seasonal climate report compiled by meteorologist John Glueck of the National Weather Service in Tucson.
The winter was officially drier than normal, though it seemed like a wet winter, with storms coming through on a nearly weekly basis.
The storms were “under-producers,” at least in the valley, said Glueck.
February is a good indicator of that. Seven days of rain added up to only 0.2 inches in the official rain gauge.
Glueck said that’s partly because of where we collect official weather data — at Tucson International Airport.
“I would assume the majority of town had above-normal rainfall,” Glueck said. “The airport’s just a dry spot.”
The official winter rain total of 2.46 inches was 0.27 inches below normal.
Dry weather is forecast for the coming week, with temperatures several degrees above normal through the weekend.
March generally brings high temperatures in the mid 70s and less than an inch or rain.
The National Climate Prediction Center predicts below normal rainfall and higher than normal temperatures for the region.
Winter, as tracked by the calendar, will officially end at spring equinox — on March 20.