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Almanac vs. NOAA: Almanac wins

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 21. 2015 7:59PM
A worker clears snow and ice dams from the rooftops of the Amoskeag Millyard Apartments in Manchester earlier this month. (David Lane/Union Leader)

This winter has been just mean, featuring cold, biting temperatures, howling winds and the state getting hit repeatedly with one snowstorm after another.

It's like Mother Nature is mad at us.

Back in autumn, it was the old-school Old Farmer's Almanac, which is based in Dublin, and not the National Weather Service's computer models, that correctly predicted New England would slog through a colder-than-normal winter.

"Winter is expected to be another cold one in the eastern half to two-thirds of the nation," the Old Farmer's Almanac said.Meanwhile, on Oct. 16, the National Weather Service predicted "warmer-than-average temperatures in the Western U.S., extending from the West Coast through most of the inter-mountain west and across the U.S.-Canadian border through New York and New England."

When winter started in December, it sure looked like the National Weather Service was going to be right, according to its reports for Concord, where the NWS keeps official statistics. December was 4 degrees warmer than average and was the 15th warmest ever, according to the NWS.

But things took a bitter turn in January, according to the NWS.

"The average temperature for January was 18.3 degrees, which was 2.3 degrees below normal. This was the coldest January since 2009," the NWS said in its report for January.

So far, according to a preliminary report for February, this month has been far colder than normal, with just one day, Feb. 10, recording an average temperature higher than the month's average of 23.2 degrees. The temperature has averaged 11.9 degrees in February, which is more than 11 degrees below normal, according to the report.

And the next several days are going to be bitter again, with a high temperature of 14 degrees and a low of -7 degrees predicted for Monday in Concord.

"It certainly does not look like this upcoming week we'll see any appreciable warmup," said James Brown, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Gray, Maine.

The warmest day in this week's forecast is expected to be today, with a predicted high temperature of 34 degrees for Concord.

And this winter follows last year's winter, which was snowier and far colder than normal, with temperatures in the single digits recorded in mid-March.

But the almanac didn't get its winter prediction completely right, as it predicted below normal snowfall for New England this winter. The NWS does not provide a prediction for snowfall in its seasonal forecast.

Nope. Concord, which has totaled nearly 80 inches of snow so far this year, is well above its average snowfall of 61 inches, according to the NWS. It started with a Thanksgiving snowstorm that dumped more than a foot of snow on Concord. December saw below-average snowfall, but Mother Nature sure made up for it after the New Year.

January had 25 inches of snow in Concord, which was 7 inches more than average, and February has already had just under 40 inches of snow, with more falling Saturday night into today.

"We're certainly going to see several inches," Brown said.

This is after the last two winters also had much higher snowfall than average, as 83.4 inches fell in 2012-13 and 80.4 inches fell last year, according to the data.

The last winter to have less snow than average was 2011-12, when just 48.1 inches of snow was recorded, according to the NWS.

The heavy snowfall combined with extreme cold has kept much of the snow from melting, leading to roofs collapsing throughout the state. Several schools and businesses in the Granite State, including stores at the Crossings at Fox Run shopping center in Newington, have closed this month because of concerns their roofs could collapse.

That said, the Better Business Bureau last week issued a warning against "post-storm" scams involving dishonest roofing contractors hoping to take advantage of the specter of collapsing roofs to trick homeowners into accepting what turns out to be substandard work.

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