It felt extremely cold outside last night.
There was a light but cutting wind, the temperature was around 35 degrees, and it was raining. Persistent drizzle mixed in with occasional spitting rain. The raindrops cut like ice when they hit my face, but they were entirely liquid. I couldn’t help but wish it would cool a few degrees, so the rain would turn to snow and it would feel so much warmer.
Believe it or not, yesterday’s cold weather is an extension of the above-average temperatures we’ve been seeing over the last couple of months, as described in this recent Addison County Independent article. The high temperature on Tuesday was around average levels, but the low temperature was well above average. This relatively warm weather kept the nocturnal precipitation as rain, and over the last few weeks has even led to some confused bulbs, as seen here.
Despite Vermont’s warmth, much of the United States has been very cold over the last week or two. Southern California has experienced unusual freezing temperatures and extremely high winds; the interior West is socked in with frigid temperatures; and snow has fallen from Texas through the mountains of the Deep South. Last week the metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia area was colder than Burlington for two days. Vermont’s warmth, and the cold elsewhere, are being driven by the current path of the jet stream. As it plunges south over the West Coast, it is dragging air south from the Arctic. It then is swooping over the warm Gulf of Mexico and pulling that warm air northward towards Vermont. If the jet stream were just a bit further east, we’d likely be pounded by nor’easters instead. In fact, the next wave of precipitation, forecast for tonight and Thursday morning, is taking a more eastern track, and this time we’re probably in for a couple of inches of snow. As with the snowstorm two weeks ago, a slight change in the track could mean a dumping of snow or a near-miss with more rain. As of 6:30 on Wednesday night, it's about 35 degrees and drizzling, so if it cools off much more we'll get at least light snow. Beyond this storm, it appears that we will be settling in to a more winterlike pattern... but I’m pretty sure I said that two weeks ago too. We’ll see!
Charlie Hohn is a recent graduate of the UVM Field Naturalist graduate program. He has been closely watching the weather ever since he was a child in southern California. Charlie will be posting occasional blog posts here about Addison County weather. He also maintains a blog about water at slowwatermovement.blogspot.com.