Autumn 2011 Was Very Warm, Almost Snow-Free

OSWEGO, NY – Winter arrived at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 22. But, it still looks an awful lot like fall outside.

“What can you say about it? We had a really nice fall,” said Bill Gregway, local observer for the National Weather Service. “It still feels rather autumnal out there.”

It was a mild, warm fall.
It was a mild, warm fall.

For the purpose of his record keeping, Gregway lumps the seasons into four three-month groups with fall being September, October and November.

The average temperature for the fall of 2011 was 55.2 degrees. That is 4.0 degrees above average.

The fall of 2001 was right on its heels at 55.1 degrees, Gregway pointed out.

Going back 43 years, to 1969 when Gregway started his tenure as observer, this is the warmest fall; with 2001 in a tie with 1999 for second place.

They are followed by 2007 with 54.2 degrees and 1971 with 54 degrees.

The coldest during that time period is 1976 with 47.3 degrees.

For the fall of 2011, the highest temperature was 84 degrees on Sept. 4 and the lowest was 24 degrees on Nov. 22. There were no records set.

Total precipitation was 13.75 inches, which is 1.34 inches higher than average. But, snowfall was just 2.9 inches. That is 6.6 inches below where it should be.

The first snowfall was 0.3-inch on Nov. 11. There also was some ‘thundersnow’ on Nov. 17.

“It was a very nice fall. It was dry but punctuated with some heavy rain at times,” Gregway said.

The greatest amount of precipitation in a 24-hour period fell on Sept. 5 (2.80 inches).

“Each month actually had (at least) 1.5 inches in a 24-hour period,” Gregway pointed out.

Precipitation fell on 52 days last fall and no precipitation fell on 39 days.

Total precipitation for the year at the end of fall came in at 46.44 inches. That is 7.31 inches higher than normal.

The number of cloudy days, 50, was 3 above average.

The number of partly cloudy days, 30, was 5 above average.

The number of clear days, 11, was 8 below average.

The area received 42 percent of the possible amount of sunshine. That is average, according to Gregway’s figures.

Fall 2011 had 9 thunderstorm days, which is 5 above average.

There were 6 foggy days. That is 4 above average.

The strongest winds were out of the west-southwest, greater than 40 mph, on Oct. 16.

“We had quite a few others, but really nothing to brag about,” Gregway said. “It was mostly gentle winds.”

The highest barometric pressure was 30.50 on Nov. 5 and the lowest was 29.19 on Oct. 20.

The first frost at the weather station (30 degrees) came on Oct. 28. That was the end of the growing season. This year, the growing season lasted 188 days – from April 22 to Oct. 28. The average is 182 days.

The lake temperature was 66.9 degrees on the last day of summer. On the last day of fall it had dropped to 48 degrees.

World Series Weather

“We had our Indian Summer from Oct. 5 through 12. It was clear and very mild,” Gregway said. “Back when they played the World Series at the start of October, you could always count on some good weather; just like we had this year.”

The area received a trace of lake effect snow pellets on Sept. 15.

The trees were slow and late to loose their leaves this fall.

“That’s likely due to the amount of rain we had and the mild weather,” Gregway said. “It wasn’t until the middle of October before we started to get some great color around here.”

From now back to 1997 was the first time the average fall temperature was out of the 50s, Gregway observed.

“The 40s tend to show up back in the 1970s and 1980s. All the 50s appear from 1998 up to the present,” he said.

The fall of 2010 was 1.1 degrees above average. Total snowfall was just 0.7-inch. The precipitation was 2.5 inches greater than average. The amount of sunshine was 1 percentage below average. And, the first snowfall didn’t come until Nov. 27.

“It was a mild fall this year with very little snow. It was wet but we had average sunshine and no damaging winds,” Gregway said. “It was a nice, mild fall.”

But, does a warmer than average fall translate into a less than average snowfall for the winter?

Taking a look at the recent top warmest falls we discover:

2007 wound up with 162.2 inches

2001 saw a winter with 70.6 inches

1999 turned into a winter with 76.6 inches

And remember 1971 when it was 54 degrees? Well, that gave us what turned out to be the snowiest winter ever – 251.6 inches

“So, there is nothing really that you can hang your hat on as far as I am concerned,” Gregway said. “A couple gave us very mild winters with snowfall less than 100 inches. One gave us above average snowfall and the other resulted in a monster winter. I don’t think you can find much of a correlation there.”