It's official...Winter is over...Spring arrived this morning per the sun at6:29am EDT!
Not feeling like spring outside wt360 headquarters in the Lehigh Valley PA with snow blanketing the ground. This middle March period (10th - 18th) has been the coldest and snowiest in the Northeast since the Storm of the Century back in 1993 (24 years ago). Northeast snowfall was 217% above average and 88 times more snow than last year when we were mowing lawns here in PA with the record heat. This has also been one of the greatest year-over-year changes going from record hot last year to near record cold this year in the Eastern half of the country. CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEW.
For the front half of March there have been 1,868 record lows or snowfall records set from the Midwest to the East Coast. Snowcover across the U.S. peaked at 37.2% on the 15th which is the most coverage in 24 years. Even the Southeast didn't escape the deep freeze with devastating freezes all the way to North Florida with major impacts to peach trees. Nationally the first 15 days of March were the snowiest in 18 years (due in large part to the NE blizzard) and coolest in 3 years.
The back half of March won't be as extreme temperature wise but the Northeast and West Coast will be the cool spots while the Central and South are the warm spots. Nationally temperatures will be the warmest in 5 years for the end of March. National total rainfall will be off the charts with the #1 wettest end to March in over 26 years with California again getting hit hard with more heavy rain this week.
The sun ushered in Spring today with the longest stretch of no sunspots in 7 years. The sun is clearly headed for its Grand Minimum over the next few years as the number of spotless days in a row is the most in 7 years as of today. This past solar maximum of cycle 24 was the 3rd weakest in 262 years and weakest in over 100 since records started back in 1755. Many solar physicists believe we're headed for a Maunder Minimum, weakest sun in 300+ years, which last took place during the little ice age in the 1600's and 1700's. The theory is that when the sun's magnetic shield weakens it allows more cosmic rays from the Milky Way and Supernovas to reach the high atmosphere of Earth. Some research suggests this makes the Earth cloudier in Summer and therefore colder and especially so in Winter. Time will tell.
The Cycle minimum should occur around late 2019 to 2020...what it does from there is TBD as the Maunder Minimum lasted for 70 years...far longer than the normal 6/11 year cycle between maxs and mins. The good news is we're adding 2 to 3 minutes of daylight everyday in the Northern Hemisphere as we head toward the Summer Solstice! Have a great week folks! Follow us on Facebook
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. - Capt Kirk out.