Winter of 2011-2012 Second Warmest Since 1895-96

Figure 1. Delaware statewide winter season (DJF) temperature from 1895-96 through 2011-2012.

Preliminary data from the National Climatic Data Center confirm what most Delawareans already knew, that the winter season (DJF) of 2011-12 across Delaware was very warm and somewhat dry.

Temperatures across the First State averaged 42.5° F for the season, more than 6° F above the 1971-2000 average of 36.2° F (Figure 1).

Figure 2. Winter (DJF) statewide temperatures for the U.S. from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) Climate at a Glance web page.

This winter was the 2nd warmest since statewide records began in 1895. Only the winter of 1931-32 has been warmer. Delaware was not alone in it’s warmth, as the eastern two-thirds of the country was above, or much above normal (Figure 2).

Figure 3. Delaware statewide winter season (DJF) precipitation from 1895-96 through 2011-2012.

Precipitation for the season averaged 8.93 inches across the State, more than 1.5 inches below the 1971-2000 mean of 10.6 inches. This winter was the 42nd driest since records began in 1895-96 (Figure 3). The driest winter on record was 1980-81 at 4.91 inches, while the wettest winter season was just two years earlier (1978-79) when 18.9 inches of precipitation fell.

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Delaware Environmental Observing System
Delaware Geological Survey
UD College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment