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Recent Unusual Mean Winter Temperatures Across the Contiguous United States

Recent Unusual Mean Winter Temperatures Across the Contiguous United States A long-time series (18951984) of mean areally averaged winter temperatures in the contiguous United States depicts an unprecedented spell of abnormal winters beginning with the winter of 197576. Three winters during the eight-year period, 197576 through 198283, are defined as much warmer than normal (abnormal), and the three consecutive winters, 197677 through 197879, much colder than normal (abnormal). Abnormal is defined here by the least abnormal of these six winters based on their normalized departures from the mean. When combined, these two abnormal categories have an expected frequency close to 21. Assuming that the past 89 winters (18951984) are a large enough sample to estimate the true interannual temperature variability between winters, we find, using Monte Carlo simulations, that the return period of a series of six winters out of eight being either much above or much below normal is more than 1000 years. This event exceeds the calculated return period of the three consecutive much colder than normal winters (197677 through 197879) all falling into a much below normal category, i.e., one that is expected to contain approximately 10 of the data. The more moderate winters of 198182 and 198384 can also be considered abnormal by relaxing the limits necessary for an abnormal classification, but this gives a return period of 467 years for the spell of eight abnormal winters in the nine consecutive winters 197576 through 198384. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society American Meteorological Society

Recent Unusual Mean Winter Temperatures Across the Contiguous United States

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1520-0477
DOI
10.1175/1520-0477(1984)065<1302:RUMWTA>2.0.CO;2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A long-time series (18951984) of mean areally averaged winter temperatures in the contiguous United States depicts an unprecedented spell of abnormal winters beginning with the winter of 197576. Three winters during the eight-year period, 197576 through 198283, are defined as much warmer than normal (abnormal), and the three consecutive winters, 197677 through 197879, much colder than normal (abnormal). Abnormal is defined here by the least abnormal of these six winters based on their normalized departures from the mean. When combined, these two abnormal categories have an expected frequency close to 21. Assuming that the past 89 winters (18951984) are a large enough sample to estimate the true interannual temperature variability between winters, we find, using Monte Carlo simulations, that the return period of a series of six winters out of eight being either much above or much below normal is more than 1000 years. This event exceeds the calculated return period of the three consecutive much colder than normal winters (197677 through 197879) all falling into a much below normal category, i.e., one that is expected to contain approximately 10 of the data. The more moderate winters of 198182 and 198384 can also be considered abnormal by relaxing the limits necessary for an abnormal classification, but this gives a return period of 467 years for the spell of eight abnormal winters in the nine consecutive winters 197576 through 198384.

Journal

Bulletin of the American Meteorological SocietyAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Dec 1, 1984

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