Warm and above normal temperatures have been a common theme all winter. Even though the astronomical season isn’t over for a few weeks, meteorological winter is over.
Meteorological winter runs December 1 through the last day of February. The difference between the two: astronomical seasons are based on the position of the earth in relation to the sun. Meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle.
Scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information have classified the 2015-2016 winter as the warmest winter on record for the Lower 48 states in its 122 years of record keeping.
Thanks to the strong El Nino, warm and wetter than normal conditions have been in control of our weather over the last three months. The average temperature for the contiguous US December through February was 4.6°F above the 20th century average, according to NOAA.
Here in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, we have had above normal temperatures for the last 11 months.
Not only was it a warm winter, but it was also the wettest winter in the Lower 48 since 1997-1998. In our region, some areas have received more rain this season than snowfall. Here’s a look at rainfall totals since January 1 for Scranton, Williamsport and Mount Pocono.
Looking ahead at the coming months, the warm trend may continue throughout the spring here in the Northeast. NOAA’s three-month temperature probability gives Pennsylvania a 40 percent chance of having warmer than normal temperatures.