This Winter was the fourth warmest on record for the contiguous U.S.

Posted at 7:30 AM, Mar 08, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Data confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that the Lower 48 states in the U.S. this Winter experienced its fourth warmest on record. The average temperature for December through February of 36.8 degrees Fahrenheit was nearly four degrees above the normal (1901 to 2000 long-term average).  This marks the warmest Winter since 2000.

In addition to the warmth, it was also drier than average for the Lower 48, especially in the West and Southeast U.S. In contrast, the Central and Southern Plains into the Ohio Valley experienced a wetter-than-average Winter (December, January, February months).  Average precipitation for Winter measured 5.70 inches, which was a bit below the normal with a 0.78 deficit compared to the long-term average.

What may have been most noticeably lacking in the U.S., especially for areas hit hard by big snowfalls in recent Winters, though, was the snow cover. This Winter had a record for the third smallest snow cover, according to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. Based upon the 1981 to 2010 average snow cover for the contiguous U.S., this Winter 2011 to 2012 snow coverage footprint was about 237,000 square miles below average, marking the third smallest snow “footprint” in the 46 years satellites have been tracking snow cover.

Click here to watch a video by NOAA’s Deke Arndt recapping this Winter.

–Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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