Winter is officially over, at least in the meteorological sense. Just don't tell Washington, D.C. residents who spent yesterday shoveling out their cars. And come to think of it, don't tell West Coast residents who just dealt with the winter that wasn't.
Let's start with the West where balmy temperatures and low snow were the norm. Ski areas in the Sierra Nevada were dealing with February slush as temperatures climbed into the 60s at times. Lower elevations were also extremely warm compared to average and several Western cities, including Reno, Fresno, Portland, Sacramento, Tucson, and San Francisco, set records for their hottest winter on record. Each of those cities is also coming off their hottest year on record, reflecting the prolonged warm spell that has gripped the West. This was also an incredibly dry winter for the West, potentially setting up water woes for the coming summer.
In contrast, the East Coast has been cooler, with repeated bouts of cold air in February. But don't let the deep freeze and snow squalls of February cloud your memory. December was a relatively warm start to the season. Thus, when you average temperatures over December, January and February, it turns out that this winter was colder than normal in many eastern cities, but not a record-setter anywhere.
The dominance of heat is also apparent in the ratio of record highs to record lows set this winter. Daily high temperature records outpaced daily lows by a ratio of 3-to-2, with 15,665 highs set to just 10,177 lows set. This is a flip from the past two years, when record lows had been outpacing record highs—a striking departure from the long-term pattern.
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