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Fall/Winter 2020/21 Banter Thread


madwx
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Think I'll give this winter an A-.  Solid snow cover of 4"+ from Dec 29th till present, long period of a foot or more on the ground, impressive arctic stretch in mid Feb.  Highlight of the winter was probably the torrential downpour of sleet Dec 29th that dropped 1.5" of a sleet.  I've seen heavy sleet many times, but nothing even close to that.  Heaviest snow event was only 6.3", which was a bit frustrating considering areas east and west had much more than that, and we also failed to hit a single 6" event last winter.  Hopefully next winter we can get a 8-9"+ storm.  

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I would also give this winter an A.  The only thing we missed out on is a real big storm.  We had several solid to good snow events, but the 8.5" in late December was the biggest.  10" is the line where we cross into high-end snow, but we only get one or two of those per decade.  We haven't had one since 2015.  We get heavy snow and we get long-duration light-to-moderate snow, but it's difficult to get long-duration heavy snow.

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I'd go with a B.  Had 2 double digit storms and a pretty epic several week stretch.  Usually that would be good enough for a higher grade, but I have to penalize the incredibly slow start in December and into January.  It wasn't simply a mediocre start... it was terrible.  A big late winter storm could still raise the grade a bit, but not really counting on that.

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6 minutes ago, NEILwxbo said:

I’d give it an A- here just due to the longevity of the snowpack. Have had atleast 3” on the ground since December 29th, can’t do much better than that in N IL

I would've gone with that grade if we had that longevity of snowpack here, but we didn't, despite not being all that far away.

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Would grade out this winter as a B+. Incredible turn around in 5-6 week window from January to mid February. Great duration of snow on the ground from late Dec till ?(still waiting on end date). Falls short of historic winters of 2013-14,1978-79, and 07-08 for my area specifically. Far NW burbs missed out on the heavier totals from most of those systems that provided lake enhancement and better totals just SE. Regionally don't think areas north in Wisconsin or in Michigan(lack of LES) grade out as well. Iowa did great as well as MSP which still could be adding totals. Rest of winter either side of this window seasonal, uneventful,  if not mild at times.

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I'll go B+ here. I loved the snowy stretch, but without sounding too weenie-ish, at least some snow on the ground for the holidays is a must have. If we could have just gotten like a two-incher on the 23rd it would have made it an A+

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B. It was a good winter but another complete December shut out is tough to take. Let's face it, it was pretty much a D- until January 25th or so. A hoar frost event during a 12 day period of 36 and cloudy from Jan.2-15th isn't going to win a lot of kudos. 

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Solid A here. Overall a very consistent winter that had almost everything you could ask for out here. All 3 months finished AA for snowfall, will finish with ~65 days of continuous snow depth and had arctic cold. Like Hawkeye said, the one thing this winter lacked is a big storm and for that reason, I'm not gonna give it an A+.

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Finally more grass than snow out there. Pretty insane to have a non-stop snowpack from December 29th to March. 
 

With “what have you done for me lately” in mind, this winter is an easy A+. But the brutal December is not easily forgotten and will knock it to a B+.
 

The 2021 part of this winter was top notch for our climo. Sustained deep cold over an expansive and deep snowcover. 

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I'll give it an A. Honestly wasn't expecting much of the winter, so having the epic stretch we had gives it a higher grade despite the slow start. Also out here in the west/southwest burbs we had the benefit of more consistent snow cover than points east. The late December through New Year snow stuck around for a while. The end of January storm was the best metro wide true winter storm since GHD II. Another part of my grade is being able to enjoy the winter with my kids, and I did get out for a bunch of sledding with my son, which was cool.

Even though February had a mild end, it was still cold enough to wipe out a lot of the warmth from December and January, finishing at +1 overall at ORD. I think most (except Beavis maybe) would sign up for above normal snow and near normal average temp for the winter. Maybe not exactly how we got there, but having the longest sustained period of deep winter since 2015 was fun, albeit taxing for us at the WFO.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

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On 3/1/2021 at 9:57 PM, TimB84 said:

Disclaimer: Not from or currently living in this region, but lived in WI for several years including the record snow winter of 2007-08 in Madison (which was awesome! Sign me up for a winter like that in Pittsburgh!).

That said, I also find this hobby stressful and emotionally draining, and anxiety inducing, so I understand the grousing over the lack of a true winter, which is unfortunately becoming more and more common in areas on the fringe of the true northern US like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Indy, even Detroit, etc. in recent years. We do need everything to go right to get a good snowstorm or polar vortex in these parts. This was largely a good winter here too (a foot above normal snowfall, the whitest Christmas ever recorded here, close to normal temps, almost a month of snow cover which is rare here, our second longest stretch to start a year without hitting 50 degrees - we finally did on 2/24). The models often had us getting a nice cold snap in February, much like the Midwest did. The models lied. February’s average here was 3.5 degrees below normal, but we didn’t have the subzero cold I was hoping for. I know our normal high on 2/28 is 42 but I wasn’t ready for winter to end just yet - March here averages 7” of snow and typically has some cold stretches. An abrupt end to winter on 2/24 was not what I had in mind, and a March that likely will feature below average snowfall here, if we see anything more than a trace at all). We suffered through a 76 degree day in mid-November and still had to deal with a flip to spring before the calendar even flipped to March. I miss when March was marginally a winter month. I miss when November was marginally a winter month. I’m sure Chicagoans do too. Don’t judge snow and cold lovers for getting upset at how short winters are these days. Some of us do get quite grouchy when the seasons aren’t the way we like them, even though we know at the heart of it there’s really nothing we can do about it, outside of moving to a colder climate (which due to the pandemic has never been easier than it is now for any of us that have a job that can be done from anywhere, like myself. Almost considering moving back to the Upper Midwest for the weather alone).

There's nothing wrong with wanting more winter. What snow weenie doesn't? I think some people just raz beav when expectations go against climatology/how weather works. 

 

This is the part I adamantly disagree with: "lack of a true winter, which is unfortunately becoming more and more common in areas on the fringe of the true northern US like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Indy, even Detroit, etc. in recent years."

Probably since the beginning of time there's always a grandpa that says "in my day winters were worse" . And that will never change. It's just an odd quirk of people who don't actually follow the weather closely enough. Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh are quite different climates than Columbus/Indy. Especially here in the southern Great Lakes our climate is a unique one. We typically see the 1st snowflakes in October and do not see the last until April, sometimes even May. We see many days during the season with snowfall but it is also very uncommon to see Winter lock itself in the entire DJF period without thaws & breaks of bare ground. BUT...when has it not been that way?  just our climo. Certainly we've had a few very mild winters since our recent historic stretch, but the idea that there is any less "Winter" in recent years than there used to be, is false.

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I give the winter a B+.

 

If we get no more measurable snow it'll be a B, if we have a good storm A-. Anything in between it stays a B+.

 

Nov/Dec: B-/C+. featured avg snow despite mild temps. some perfectly timed snows for me coinciding with some holiday events I had. Cut down friends Christmas tree Nov 30 as snowstorm began, felt like I was in a hallmark movie with less cheese. Snowed the night I went to holiday nights at Greenfield village Dec 16. Then the grand finale was a PERFECT, and surprise, 3.6" snowfall late Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.

 

Jan: D+. a shitty month locally. we snowed an inch at a time and never had anything of note. Cant be a drama queen and go F tho since snow, while half of normal, was nowhere near futility. While about half the month had some snowcover, it was usually just T-1.

 

Feb: A+. Our go to month comes thru yet again. Snowcover the entire month, tho mangy/patchy at the very end, and a very solid stretch of deep winter Feb 4-21 with lots of snow, deep snowpack, and cold. The heavy whiteout thump on Feb 4 saw 4.2" but 3" of this dense snow fall in 1.5 hours, incredible to see about 0.30" liquid of snow fall in 80-90 mins. A fun start to a fun stretch. The Feb 15/16 two wave storm brought 11" of snow which for the 4th time since 2014 gave us a nice Feb stretch of snowpack solidly over a foot. Feb tied a monthly record for 16 days of measurable snow and was the 11th snowiest.

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40 minutes ago, michsnowfreak said:

There's nothing wrong with wanting more winter. What snow weenie doesn't? I think some people just raz beav when expectations go against climatology/how weather works. 

 

This is the part I adamantly disagree with: "lack of a true winter, which is unfortunately becoming more and more common in areas on the fringe of the true northern US like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Indy, even Detroit, etc. in recent years."

Probably since the beginning of time there's always a grandpa that says "in my day winters were worse" . And that will never change. It's just an odd quirk of people who don't actually follow the weather closely enough. Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh are quite different climates than Columbus/Indy. Especially here in the southern Great Lakes our climate is a unique one. We typically see the 1st snowflakes in October and do not see the last until April, sometimes even May. We see many days during the season with snowfall but it is also very uncommon to see Winter lock itself in the entire DJF period without thaws & breaks of bare ground. BUT...when has it not been that way?  just our climo. Certainly we've had a few very mild winters since our recent historic stretch, but the idea that there is any less "Winter" in recent years than there used to be, is false.

I can only speak from my own experiences (I’m 36 and not a grandpa, lol, and I do follow the weather closely) and I agree that the five cities I named all have their own unique climate, though Columbus and Indy are certainly less influenced by the lakes than the other three. I’d be hard pressed to name a winter where it hasn’t been that way, outside of the late 1970s, which I didn’t get to experience. I can remember playing outside as a kid on numerous 65-70 degree January and February days in the ‘90s.
 

My argument here boils down to my opinion that the core of winter is still there, but the “shoulder seasons”, if you will, (somewhat Nov/early Dec, but especially late Feb/early Mar) are getting a lot less likely to have cold and snow than they used to be. I’m not comparing them to, nor do I expect them to be like, mid-January, I’m comparing them to late February in the past. Of course it’s going to be warmer on average the last week of February than the third week of January. But at least in Pittsburgh, the last week of February has been an extension of spring for 6 years in a row now. I realize 6 years isn’t enough to draw any definitive conclusions, but it’s at least enough to make you say “hmm.” And when it’s not just a momentary warm spell, but a pattern that occurs year after year after year, you start to wonder if maybe this is related to climate and not weather.

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36 minutes ago, TimB84 said:

I can only speak from my own experiences (I’m 36 and not a grandpa, lol, and I do follow the weather closely) and I agree that the five cities I named all have their own unique climate, though Columbus and Indy are certainly less influenced by the lakes than the other three. I’d be hard pressed to name a winter where it hasn’t been that way, outside of the late 1970s, which I didn’t get to experience. I can remember playing outside as a kid on numerous 65-70 degree January and February days in the ‘90s.
 

My argument here boils down to my opinion that the core of winter is still there, but the “shoulder seasons”, if you will, (somewhat Nov/early Dec, but especially late Feb/early Mar) are getting a lot less likely to have cold and snow than they used to be. I’m not comparing them to, nor do I expect them to be like, mid-January, I’m comparing them to late February in the past. Of course it’s going to be warmer on average the last week of February than the third week of January. But at least in Pittsburgh, the last week of February has been an extension of spring for 6 years in a row now. I realize 6 years isn’t enough to draw any definitive conclusions, but it’s at least enough to make you say “hmm.” And when it’s not just a momentary warm spell, but a pattern that occurs year after year after year, you start to wonder if maybe this is related to climate and not weather.

We are close to the same age, I'm 37. It's often hard to sum each winter up let alone each decade. Huge climo buff here, basically know Detroits climo like the back of my hand since 1870s. There's tons of good and bad, but even if I didn't know any climate data, I can tell you that as a snowlover since birth, winters of my youth were far less wintry than the ones this century.  I can't remember the 80s but I do remember the 90s. We had a few good storms but overall the winters were just weak and we had a huge rebound in the 21st century. 

 

The 2010s were the snowiest decade on record in Detroit and this was soley due to January and February. The bookend parts of the season have stayed relatively constant from an avg standpoint but there have been some weird trends. For a while we were in a stretch where November and April snowfall had notably decreased from the 20th century. But now in recent years we've had several snowy November's, some even setting records, and some real shit December's. The last handful of years have seen unusually late April and even May accumulating snows in this region, along with early blasts of October snow. So I would say a few years stretch of anything is definitely not long enough to declare any trends, but I think we can all agree that the weather has done some wonky things in recent years. 

 

 Looking a little farther out side of my specific area, our region in general has really seen some weird things happen during the book end portions of the season in recent years. Without breaking down all the individual details, it would be very reasonable for someone to think that Winter seems to be making early appearances pre Halloween, then deciding to take a little hiatus during part or most of the Christmas season. Fast forwarding, as the calendar turns from February to March, we seem to have taste of Spring and have not had a good March snow in a while but then Winter decides to show up for an encore in April.

 

 But looking at winters of the past there's always been weird things happening so I would not put too much thought into it at this time.  The 1930s were an era of mild snowless winters and hot summers, yet for some reason we had quite a run of late March snowstorms. Another decade that was known for mild winters was the 1950s, but we had a lot of good November snows that decade. 

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21 minutes ago, michsnowfreak said:

We are close to the same age, I'm 37. It's often hard to sum each winter up let alone each decade. Huge climo buff here, basically know Detroits climo like the back of my hand since 1870s. There's tons of good and bad, but even if I didn't know any climate data, I can tell you that as a snowlover since birth, winters of my youth were far less wintry than the ones this century.  I can't remember the 80s but I do remember the 90s. We had a few good storms but overall the winters were just weak and we had a huge rebound in the 21st century. 

 

The 2010s were the snowiest decade on record in Detroit and this was soley due to January and February. The bookend parts of the season have stayed relatively constant from an avg standpoint but there have been some weird trends. For a while we were in a stretch where November and April snowfall had notably decreased from the 20th century. But now in recent years we've had several snowy November's, some even setting records, and some real shit December's. The last handful of years have seen unusually late April and even May accumulating snows in this region, along with early blasts of October snow. So I would say a few years stretch of anything is definitely not long enough to declare any trends, but I think we can all agree that the weather has done some wonky things in recent years. 

 

 Looking a little farther out side of my specific area, our region in general has really seen some weird things happen during the book end portions of the season in recent years. Without breaking down all the individual details, it would be very reasonable for someone to think that Winter seems to be making early appearances pre Halloween, then deciding to take a little hiatus during part or most of the Christmas season. Fast forwarding, as the calendar turns from February to March, we seem to have taste of Spring and have not had a good March snow in a while but then Winter decides to show up for an encore in April.

 

 But looking at winters of the past there's always been weird things happening so I would not put too much thought into it at this time.  The 1930s were an era of mild snowless winters and hot summers, yet for some reason we had quite a run of late March snowstorms. Another decade that was known for mild winters was the 1950s, but we had a lot of good November snows that decade. 

Admittedly, I’m looking at this through the clouded lens of being on the cusp of turning a good-to-great winter into a truly memorable winter but spring had to go and show up early, and that’s a much better position to be in than last year, when winter blasted through the door here in early November, pulled a disappearing act for six months and came back for the first half of May when it was too late.

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B++

If we could muster one more memorable snow in be very content. One thing which stood out to me. The pattern of spring came one day, with the return of spring and dare I say. Happy weather. The snow dissolved like cotton candy in ones mouth slowly and memorable. The song birds too arrived in this cue. 

 

 

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Its still too soon for me to give this winter season a formal grade, since we still have 6+ weeks of measurable snow opportunities. Presently I'd say B-/B mostly hinging on the snowpack being able to stick around for going on 71 consecutive days now.

 

The record breaking October 20th storm of 7.9" was something else. Never did I expect to receive so much, so early, and at a 10-1 ratio to boot! An additional 0.8" two days later helped preserve snow cover for an unprecedented 8 days, while high temperatures never climbed out of the mid 30s and a few days staying below freezing entirely. October 2020 is the snowiest October on record in the Twin Cities. I skied twice in October this year within an hour of the Twin Cities.

November started very warm with numerous days in the low 70s until an 8.3" thumping over 3 days from the 10th-12th brought winter back. Unfortunately a few days in the 50s zapped the snow and while the rest of the month was seasonal temperature wise we saw no precipitation and ended the month with less total snowfall then October, and 8 days of total snow cover.

December was a dry dud until the 23rd which brought verified Blizzard Warnings and 8.7" of snow on 0.48" of water for an 18-1 ratio. The 2nd blizzard in the metro in the past 3 years. Classic midwest winter storm, nothing super memorable although outside the metro I'm sure the winds were something. 

January was very warm by Minneapolis standards at 6.5 degrees above average, but still managed 7.8" of snow in multiple events, and the minimum snow depth for the month was 6" which was aided by well timed out small snowfalls.

Not much to say about February that hasn't already been shared. A historically long cold snap which brought us 10 straight days in the single digits or colder and 4 days with below zero high temperatures. Even with a few days in the 40s at the end of the month we still finished 9.1 degrees below average, on 5.9" of snow. 

 

I can see this winter being bumped up to a B/B+ if we can get 1-2 more solid events coupled with a colder stretch to keep ice on the lakes and some snow cover. Presently we are at 44.9" of snowfall on the season which is only 2" above average to date, and with the current forecast we will probably fall behind average to date before our next event. Still some ice houses out on the lake but I imagine they will be gone soon too. 

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Today is the 60 year anniversary of the March 4, 1961 tornado that tracked across the south side of Chicago (the track was a bit north of the infamous 1967 Oak Lawn tornado).  This is one of the more noteworthy tornadoes in the city's history as it caused quite a bit of damage, injured over 100 people and killed 1.  It is the earliest in a calendar year that a tornado has been documented in Chicago, and it managed to track all the way to the lake despite the time of year and what would've been a cold water temp.

Here is a report that was co-authored by Dr. Fujita.  The way it is put together is sort of a product of the time, but there are some good damage/eyewitness descriptions in there... flipped/tossed cars, ears popping, etc.  There are no known pictures of the tornado but there were multiple sightings of a funnel.

https://swco-ir.tdl.org/handle/10605/261774

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Laid down 3” this morning before the wet bulb got too high. Still building the base, with these 20 degree lows I can make more than the afternoon sun eats up, although I know I’m on life support here.

For sheer novelty purposes I’ll keep reporting here periodically how it’s going. If every single day that conditions here supported snow it actually snowed, how long would we have snowcover? I’ll be able to tell you soon.

Obviously bad science as that’s now how things work and things like surrounding snowpack albedo etc aren’t in play as this is literally only imby, but hopefully you guys find it a little interesting. Hoping to push it into April and who knows from there.

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  • 2 months later...

Was looking through Chicago wx records, and came across a strange stat:  the 1993-94 winter season is the only one in Chicago history with zero measurable snow March 1st or later. A few years had no measurable snow in March, but then there was some in April...but not so in 1993-94. 

This is an unexpected stat mainly because the 1993-94 winter was decent around here, with the arctic outbreak in January and then two good snowstorms in late Feb.  I guess everything shut off completely after that.

And, apparently Chicago had a trace of snow (not hail) on 5/25/1924...even as no temp records (low or low max) were set that day.  Record low for May 25th is 32 in 1992 (latest freeze in Chicago history); record low max is 44 set in 1893.  

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