Friday, January 2, 2015

2014: Our Year Without a Freezing Temperature

My flower garden WILL recover...
Something strange happened last night, the last day of the year 2014. At seven minutes to midnight, the official temperature at Modesto airport stood at 33ºF. At some point during the next sixty minutes, the thermometer recorded something that had not happened in the entire year of 2014 (according to the data at Modesto Irrigation District). It dipped below freezing, eventually reaching 28ºF. It took a mass of frigid air from the arctic that dropped snow across many parts of Southern California, but the temperature dropped below freezing in our area for the first time since December 10 of 2013.

I've not been recording temperatures in my backyard the way I've recorded rainfall, but we generally expect to get just a few freezing nights in our region each year (this site suggests that there are an average of 22 a year, but that seems high to me). The fruit trees like cherries or peaches do better when they've had a bit of freezing weather. But last year, the freezing temperatures didn't come after December.

It was cold in Los Angeles as well. Yesterday's high temperature of 56ºF was the first time the high temperature dropped below 60ºF in 375 days, the second longest streak ever recorded.

Such statistics must be amusing to our friends in the northern tier of states where extreme cold is a way of life. We don't suffer much from a few days of cold weather (except for our homeless families). But the fact is, temperatures are warmer than the historical average. We are far more likely to have record highs than record lows, though both still happen.

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