What's with the East coast weather?

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXJanuary 17, 2013

I have relatives that live very near Scott. So I watch their weather and get reports now and then. They say no cold weather all winter. The Baltimore location reported on weather.com says one night in December at 32F and one night so far in January at 31F. Are you kidding me?? It's been colder in Phoenix and LA! We've been 17 to 24F each week the last six weeks.

So are you guys set up for a freeze out this spring?

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Well i'm in Florida so expect warm but we always get some cold. This year we had one light frost but no freezes yet. The other day the forecast showed Tuesday the 22nd low at 29.....I figured here we go again as the blueberries are actually ahead of last year and last year was too early. But......now they have changed the low to 39 which made me quite happy. Of course last year it was like February 12th when we got hammered. The Blueberries are almost in full bloom and putting out new leaves. 6-7 of the peach trees are blooming. Raspberries are blooming. Sure don't want cold, LA can keep it.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 2:57PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Here in the NC Piedmont, the first two weeks of winter were typical for us, with temps ranging from the mid 20s to the mid 50s. The last 10 days have been unusually mild, though, with nighttime lows as much as 25 to 30 above average and a couple of daytime highs in the 70s. Fortunately, it looks like we'll be returning to more typical January weather for at least the next week or so. In fact, we're forecast to pick up 2" to 4" of snow this evening.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 3:38PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Its definitely been mild. I think the low so far this winter here is about 24F. As shazaam mentions it is cooling now and they are forecasting 24F in a few days here. Still, it used to get close to 0F every winter up until about three years ago. Two years ago 7F was my lowest low and last year 14F was the low low. So far I'm not so worried about a freeze, but if Feb/Mar produces more warm spells it could lead to trouble.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 3:53PM
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I've got a general question that has nothing to do with any actual weather: do warm spells in the early winter (apart from how those patterns hold on through the rest of winter and into early spring) do anything at all to increase the likelihood of a spring freeze for average (in terms of required chill hours) trees? Could the reverse actually be true? In other words, could warmer weather early in winter mean that chill hours aren't adding up as fast and trees therefore won't be ready to break dormancy as soon as if they had had more cold?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 4:03PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I don't like early chilling here, before say Dec 15, because we are assured of warmth in late winter resulting in early bloom. So yes a late onset of chilling followed by cool weather after chilling is ideal.

The Baltimore area is probably at 12-1500 chill hrs already and probably had all they needed by Jan 1. So any hint of warmth is already pushing bloom. After chilling is done even 45-50F is pushing bloom.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 5:02PM
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alan haigh

It doesn't matter if it's mild in January here- it has been very warm March followed by normal April that has killed us last year and in the past.

Of course if it gets warm enough to get things budding it's another story.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 5:53PM
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The pattern here is setting up much like last winter, with average temps much higher, but constant bouncing around....and some very abrupt. we went from -18F to upwards of 40 in less than 48 hrs. And we are seeing multiple thaw events every few weeks such that we cannot build a snow pack.

like harestman, I felt the warm march was the real killer last 2 years. BUt these yo-yo tempertures make me wonder.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Well, folks, every year's weather in any particular location in the US is dependent upon the path that the jet stream takes. This year the temporatures have moderated on the east coast due to a more western/northern path for the jet stream. I am told that the jet stream's path is influenced by the temporature of the water in the pacific ocean.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 8:18AM
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My daffs are up one inch as are my crocus. This is early for them. It has been mild, but its getting chillier here in RI by the night and day. A little snow last night. In the NE we have what is called 'the January Thaw'. Mild temps then it plunges into winter, I hope! :) Mrs. G

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 9:10AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Well, I'm near Baltimore, fruitnut. I don't know where weather.com gets those readings, but I'm guessing it might be downtown or right on the harbor.

At BWI Airport (a good 10 miles from the bay and in a suburban area, and close to my house) it has been into the twenties plenty of times in December and a couple in Jan. HOwever, we haven't even dipped into the teens yet and that's unusual. The forecast next week for HIGHS in the 20s means it might get into the teens, or, if the cold air is more intense than it looks, maybe even colder for nighttime lows.

As a side note, I have been compiling a list of winter minimums for every year since 1950...it seems that, climate change or not, the fifties were nearly as warm as far as winter minimums as the last couple years have been. In fact, the 60s through the mid 90s are the real reason our zone rating isn't a half zone higher. A few VERY cold winters ('77, '82, '84, '85, '89, '94, '96) skew the average.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Perception of weather is often at odds with the reality. Looking at Chesapeake Bay water temperatures this year vs the 1985-2012 average, October and November were actually cooler than normal. December was pretty typical. January, however, might set some records for warm water.

Bay water is a good surrogate for overall local air temperatures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eyes on the Bay- change parameters to explore

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Here in the Midwest, it's been a yoyo. Precipitation wise, my region is definitlely out of the drought. My 12 ft deep, one acre pond is now full after only being completed on August 27. That's over 25 inches of rain. However, the Mississippi is dangerously low. Last Saturday saw temps in the low 60's. Sunday, it reached the teens. Tomorrow will see mid 50's and by Monday upper teens again. Ground here has not significantly frozen in two years.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:50AM
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weather.com just can't be trusted for weather data. Looking at the NWS data, Baltimore had 13 sub-32 nights in December, and 9 so far in January. Yes, both months have been unusually mild, but certainly not warmer than LA or Phoenix!

I totally get your point, that the East has been really mild, while the West has been unusually cold since before Christmas.

But to be fair, here are some more of the correct data:
January Lows:
Baltimore -- 22
Phoenix -- 29
Los Angeles -- 34
Albuquerque -- 8

Departure from normal so far for January:
Baltimore -- +6.1
Los Angeles -- -5.0
Phoenix -- -7.0
Albuquerque -- -8.3

So the above average temps back East have been met or exceeded by the below average temps here in the West so far in January.

Growing up back East I do remember plenty of warm, rainy (instead of snowy) winters though. They usually did not last the entire season, February typically being the snowiest month there and the peak cold not coming until late January/early February. I'll take the colder, sunny winter with snow instead of rain here in Northern NM over the dark, rainy one back there any day.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:57AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

It does seem that in winters where one part of the country is significantly warmer or colder than normal, the other half is the opposite. Cold east, warm west and vice versa.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:26PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


That's because a dip in the jet stream usually covers about half the country. So the dip that's been over the west for about 10 days has now moved over the east. That causes warming in the west and colder in the eastern US. Maybe you'll stay that way most of the next two months.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:59PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'm sitting at 48F here in southwest WI as I type, no snow cover other then a few little piles of ice. By Monday we should be at or near -10F.

I've been below 0F multiple times this winter, but the -20Fs have been missing the last few years. The all time low is -43F in LaCrosse. Lots of times we have seen -30Fs.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 4:57PM
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alan haigh

I would guess that average lows in the last 8 years have been a full 10 degrees above average lows of the previous 20 here in southeastern NY. I'm glad it got a bit colder today but it will probably be another roller-coaster ride this season.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:36PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

With the exception of 2009, which was fairly cold, I think that's true here, too.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:20PM
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alan haigh

Everyone talked around here about how cold it was in 2009's winter, there was snow that glazed into a dangerous ice surface and I fell more than once tending orchards- one time injuring my ribs enough not to be able to sleep on one side for months.

For all that, night temps never got much below zero.

I agree that local trends are not at all a way to gauge global climate but we are subjective creatures by instinct. I do worry more about global climate change when my local conditions are particularly warm and become more sanguine when things seem closer to normal, like this morning and the next couple weeks of forecast.

I welcome the cold, although I'll be outside in the elements every working day. Wish I could tune down the wind though- that's what bites.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 6:14AM
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spunbondwarrior(7 wst nc)

Here in the north-west side of the Piedmont in N.W. NC, where the Piedmont meets the Appalachian Foothills, where we are it has yet to dip below 16F this "winter". This years winter, like winter 2011/2012 has been more like an extended below average autumn than anything even remotely approaching a "real" winter of the past.
It used to get to at least a little below or right to 0F about every year, but, it seems that such an winter hasn't occurred in the past 10 years, maybe more.
This does not bode well at all for commercial agri-anything in the "mid-regions" of the eastern US, including, maybe especially, the eastern foothills and Appalachians.....

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:10PM
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GreenOrchardMom(Ga Mts 7)

I live in the eastern foothills too & where is winter this year?
Having taken the risk of leaving out my hardiest tropicals
I have watched the weather daily waiting for the teens or even single digits
they never last long but do always eventually arrive
whatever....we have not yet had enough cold to kill pests
didn't lug in all those heavy pots until Feb
when the nights finally fell into the mid to high 20s
heres to pathogen disruption

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:35PM
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I'm in So. CA at the Anaheim river near the Angel Stadium/ Honda Center and we got 350 chill hours. With all the talk about a cold winter I was hoping for more. It didn't feel that cold to me. We had one little frost that damaged some of my fuchsias and some other tender things. I was hoping for more rain but it seemed to always stop just south of San Francisco. Right now I have blueberries and plums blooming and in late January my early peach had a fantastic bloom. Last year the spring was so cool that the peaches from that tree were never sweet. I'm thinking that this year might be the same. 2012 was a good strawberry year however.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 8:57PM
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alan haigh

At least we've so far avoided especially warm spells here in southeastern NY. Our only significant snow leaves only a trace at this point, but the temps have not broken the 40's in the day as they often did last Feb. Forecast through mid-March predicts much the same- nothing out of the 50's anyway and lots of hard frost. As long as trees don't wake up too early I'll be happy. Who knows, maybe I'll actually finish my pruning rounds before they awaken.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:32AM
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Ditto H-man on the weather temps, except for the hard freezes, those are over in RI. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:09AM
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