Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Big Record Will Likely Fall

This has been an exceptional year meteorologically in Utah.  One that lies outside the range of weather that has been recorded previously (since 1895) in the state.

For the year to date (Jan–Nov), our mean statewide temperature is 53.7ºF, the highest in the instrumented record.

Source: NCDC
A close second is 1934 at 53.4ºF (I'm not sure if the difference is statistically significant, but we'll go with 2012 as the leader).  1934 was a real outlier relative to the climate of Utah during the early 20th century.  In fact, despite warmth in recent years, none have exceeded it.  Will we finally top it this year?

Data from NCDC suggests that in December 1934 the statewide average temperature was 1.1ºF above the 1981–2010 statewide average temperature.  I don't have access to statewide statistics for the first 12 days of this December, but we can look at anomalies at specific stations.  At Salt Lake City we ran  7.6ºF above the 1981–2010 average.  At Cedar City we ran 8.0ºF above the 1981–2010 average.  Now that's a fever!

Thus, we head into the last half of December with a very real chance of recording the warmest calendar  year in Utah during the instrumented record.  That sounds impressive, but in the coming decades, this year won't seem all that unusual.  

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