2011-2012 Winter Almost the Warmest in the Century

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By Matthew Jacobson – Terrier Times Staff – VINTON, Va. -

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Groundhog’s Day indicating six more weeks of winter. If he’d been in Vinton, Va. He must have lost three pounds and had to wipe the sweat from his eyes before he could make out his shadow.

That raised the question of what kind of winter remains for those six weeks. 

Will it be the mild winter that we have been experiencing in Southwest Virginia or will it involve snow?

“We are in a La Nina Pattern (warm weather that it keeps the jet stream up in Canada) this year and that it why it has been so mild,” said WDBJ7 meteorologist Brent Watts.

Data from NOAA.gov this past winter (Dec. 1-Feb. 29) was just one-tenth of a degree warmer than the winter of 1948-49.





DEC. 1-FEB. 29 1912 – 2012


1.    46.5    1931    

2.    43.2    2011    

3.    43.1    1948    

4.    42.8    1949    

5.    42.5    1929    

6.    42.4    2001    

7.    42.3    1956    

8.    41.9    1990    

9.    41.7    1998    

10.  41.6    1932    


Source: http://www.erh.noaa.gov

“Our region has managed to traverse all four seasons in a single 24-hour period this Friday,” said Kevin Myatt in his Weather Journal on roanoke.com on Feb. 24, “with summerlike morning temperatures in the 70s (1 degree from 80 just to the east at Lynchburg and Danville), springlike storms in the afternoon, autumnlike winds in the evening and some winterlike snow showers by late evening.”

Doesn’t that just capture the essence of this past winter?

Of course, when the air gets cold talk of snow at William Byrd High School increases.

Students finally got a day off of school on February 20 when as much as a foot of snow in some areas disappeared in steamy weather the very afternoon it finished falling.

Students have different reasons why they want snow; like sophomore Brooke Wimmer who just wants to “play in the snow.” Junior Talia Quintana “likes to go sledding.” But junior Jacob Bailey just “wants to get out of school,” as does sophomore Edgar Vasquez.

“I want snow because we haven’t had it and so we can get out of school and play with our friends,” said junior Briea Miller.

While you might think it’s just students who long for wintery weather, there are teachers who also want snow.

Health and P.E. teacher Russell Dishman wants snow so he can “plan better for his classes.”

As of the time Phil peeked out the Roanoke Valley saw highs of 68 degrees in January but very little snow.  The area hadn’t even logged a half an inch of it yet.

Is this uncommon for the Roanoke area?  According to weatherunderground.com, January’s temperature highs for this year were between 45 degrees to 68 degrees. 

When it comes to snowfall since July 1 the area had seen less than half an inch of snow before the February snow came. 

By this time in 2011 the area had 9.6 inches of snow with 2.4 of them falling in January.  In 2010, the area saw 28.9 inches of snow season with just under 10 of them falling in the month of January.


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