My Top 5 Southern New England Weather Events of 2015

For a recap of 2014 see here.  For a recap of 2012 see here.
2015 was certainly interesting from a meteorological standpoint.  In time we will remember the snow blitz of late January and February and the warmth of December.  Here is my top 5 for Southern New England.

Honorable mention- 90 degree weather in September, distant impacts from Hurricane Joaquin (flooding rains in late September), 49 degree weather on June 1st.  

5. Long Term Persistent Moderate Drought
One year ago here is what the drought monitor looked like for the Northeast.  The yellow indicates abnormal dryness. 
Regional drought monitor 12/30/14
One year later and one can really see the difference in Southern New England especially Connecticut.
US drought monitor 12/29/15
Now this has nothing on the drought in California but many of us noticed brown lawns this spring and summer.  It went weeks at a time without raining.  The drought peaked in May when all of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were in moderate drought.  June brought some relief as rains fell on the first the month and again in the later parts of the month as the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill moved through.   A few severe weather events helped drop some rain this summer.  The rains of last week have helped but this is something to watch going into 2016.

4. August 4, 2015 severe weather event 
Two rounds of severe weather ripped across the region on 8/4/2015.  I posted after the first round knocked out power to thousands in Rhode Island and Southeastern MA.  A mid/upper level speed max moved into New England which also had very strong wind shear aloft (ie winds turning with height). As a result several supercell thunderstorms formed.  These storms prompted tornado warnings in Franklin, Worcester, and Middlesex counties.
SPC storm reports 8/4/2015
These thunderstorms were not the typical storms we see in Southern New England.  Hail up to 2" in diameter smashed car windows in Eastern MA.
Via the Boston Globe hail at their headquarters in Boston
At the peak over 100,000 people lost power in Southern New England.  While 2014 saw a pair of tornadoes touch down in Southern New England a case can be made that this day was the most widespread severe weather outbreak since the June 2011 event.

3. January 26-27, 2015 Blizzard 
This storm started it all.  Winter 2014-15 had started slowly with some cold but little snow.  After a 3-6" snowstorm the weekend of Jan 24-25 mother nature dropped the real bomb on us.  This was a true New England special.  Snow started to fall around 5-6 PM Monday night and did not stop until 10 PM Tuesday night.  All in all Worcester ended up with 34.5" of cold fluffy snow, a new record.
NESIS snowfall map for Jan 26-27 storm
Here is the storm on water vapor- a true beauty
NOAA GOES_EAST water vapor loop 1/26/15
Personally this storm was a pleasure to cover.  Of course I didn't know what was to come but the snow was so light and easy to move.  To watch it pile up as fast as it did was a sight to behold.  See my posts on the storm here and here  and here.

2. December Warmth 
For the second year in a row we were able to play football outside on Christmas Day.  Christmas Eve featured temperatures in the upper 60's.  The final stats are not in yet but for much of the Eastern US December 2015 will go down as the warmest on record.
December 2015 month to date temperature anomaly
We have already set the record for most 50 degree days and most 60 degree days in a given December.   I called this Heatmiser's Revenge and tried to give some meteorological explanation for the warmth.  Some trees even started to bud!  In some respects it is similar to the March 2012 warmth.  That warmth was more impressive because we hit 80 degrees multiple times that month.  But still this was impressive by any measure.  I have to rank it ahead of the blizzard because weather wise this is more rare.

1. February 2015
It started shortly after Malcolm Butler intercepted Russel Wilson.  A widespread 15-20" fell February 2-3
NESIS 2/2-2/3 2015
At the same time bone chilling cold invaded New England and it did not leave.
Global temperature anomaly Feb 2015 (image Weatherbell)
In fact the month became the coldest month ever in Worcester and Hartford and the second coldest month in Providence and Boston. Boston went 43 straight days without topping 40 degrees.  A third storm hit Feb 8-9 with over a foot of snow.  Then a second blizzard hit on Valentine's Day!  I don't want to crash your browser with anymore pictures and videos so please see my post from Feb 12 here.   I also urge you to read these stats from the USA Today weather team about the winter.
Have a safe and happy New Year everyone.  Together we will see what mother nature has for us in 2016!

-Zack Green

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