2012 Southern New England Weather Review

Coming off a wild 2011 no one knew what to expect in 2012.  Thankfully mother nature blessed the United States with a warm year and a relatively calm year for New England.  Ski resorts, plow operators, and others who rely on snow for income suffered during the winter season.  Save for two or three light snow events winter was non-existent and after the pounding New England took in 2011 this was welcome many others.  It looked like New England and the rest of the East Coast would escape damage from tropical weather as August and September went without any hurricanes.  October was looking to trend the same way and it looked as if danger had passed.

1. Hurricane Sandy
Then came Sunday October 21, 2012.  That is the day nearly all major weather models showed a complex interaction of a Hurricane and an Arctic cold front.  The guidance continually showed a transfer of energy when the two began to interact and the birth of "Superstorm".  The landfall was not certain until about Friday, but it was clear from way out that Washington, DC north to Cape Cod was the zone.  It settled in Southern New Jersey but was so large and powerful that there was significant damage in Southern New England.
The force of the storm surge pushed this house into the middle of the street
Another Home near Misquamicut Beach
Over one million New England customers lost power during the storm.  Wind gusts over Hurricane force were reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  The damage to the Mid Atlantic is staggering and Sandy will likely end up the second most costly Hurricane in US history when adjusting for just inflation.  However if one adjusts for population growth and developed wealth in Hurricane prone areas, Sandy ranks 6th.

Sandy is my top highlight of 2012, here are some others

2. March 2012
Until Hurricane Sandy the warm temperatures of March 2012 was the most impressive weather event from a meteorological perspective.  Only the Pacific Coast and parts of New Mexico and Arizona were near normal.  The rest of the country looked like
There were several stretches of temperatures in the 60's and 70's and some areas reached 80.  Across the US cities set records for earliest 80 degree day.  On a global scale, despite the record US warmth, temperatures were below average
US a "hotspot" for much of 2012
which leads to
3. January-February 2012
The winter that wasn't!  March 2012 was the highlight due to the pure ridiculousness of working in Maine and New Hampshire when the temperature was 80 degrees on the Piscataqua River Bridge (car thermometer, but hey).  However that was partially caused by a lack of North American Snowpack.  Rather than cold Siberian Air  being filtered into Canada, mild Pacific flow dominated as the cold air stayed bottled up in the Arctic circle.  We started the year off bad
Snow depth January 1, 2012
And never really recovered.  There were a few small storms in January including one right before the AFC Championship Game held at Foxboro
Snow Depth January 24, 2012
But it was already melting away by February
February 1, 2012
It was also bare in the Midwest so air masses moving over them did not cool as they usually do in winter.  Further there was persistent high pressure and the longer air is compressed to the surface the more it will warm.

4. December 29 Snowstorm
That's right I'm putting the most recent weather event in my top 5.  There were officially 11 inches in Northbridge, 12 inches Douglas, 13.7 in Milford.  Here is a map of the totals
NWS snowfall reports
That hole in Uxbridge is due to lack of a report as a heavy band of snow sat over the area from 4 PM until 11 PM.  The snow was so fluffy it was piling up over an inch an hour it was a great site to see.
Radar Image 630 PM 12/29
The Blackstone Valley was in the perfect position for this last storm.  We were close enough to the rain snow line to get the intense snowfall rates, but far enough from it that our snow was light and fluffy.

5. November 7, 2012 Rain/Snow Storm
A powerful Nor'Easter passed through the Northeast just a week after Hurricane Sandy.  It produced stronger winds over the majority of Cape Cod than Hurricane Sandy did.  Even though computer guidance suggest snow was possible, it was not well forecast.  Here was one computer model projection from the Saturday before the Thursday event
GFS for the win! 5 day had it right on
The total amount that fell was about 4-6 inches
NWS upped totals a bit too much before the end
Here is what the storm looked like on the models
EURO forecast 3 days before event
This storm ravaged the coastline left stricken by Sandy the week before and would have been memorable in its own right even had it not followed Sandy.

I would like to thank all of you who read the blog and trust my forecasting.  I plan to add more for 2013 for people who have an interest in weather outside the forecast.  Lets see what 2013 brings to the weather table! Have a safe and Happy New Year

PS 2011 Top 5 was
  1. Springfield Tornado
  2. January Blizzards
  3. Hurricane Irene
  4. Halloween Snowstorm
  5. July 100 degree heat


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