For Rappahannock residents who prefer their winter on the balmier side, congratulations. You’ve just lived through one of the warmest Januarys on record.
We’re talking anywhere from “6 to 7 degrees” above average — “it’s way out there!” observes meteorologist Bob Ryan, a Rappahannock resident who spent decades forecasting the weather for NBC viewers.
“The signals of climate change are getting more and more apparent,” says Ryan, who monitors his own weather station on Bessie Bell Mountain. “We do get these unusual patterns occasionally, but this one is breaking records — and we are seeing significant changes.
“The ground isn’t even frozen!” he exclaims. “Daffodils are coming up!”
All of which spells a snow drought for Rappahannock County, “and it doesn’t look like much hope for February,” according to Ryan, who says typically (read previous decades) Rappahannock can receive 30, 40, even 50 inches of white stuff during the winter.
As for this season?
“Dustings mostly,” he says, “maybe 3 inches, or to the north end of the county 5 or 6 inches.”
Apart from the rapidly warming planet, a persistent storm track this winter is partly to blame for the lack of snow in the mid-Atlantic and east coast. The jet stream has avoided dipping south east of the Mississippi River, steering any significant winter storms well north and temperatures above average.
And if you think our landscape — including higher-elevation Shenandoah National Park — is brown, the Weather Channel says Washington, D.C. has measured only 0.6 inches of snow this winter, a measly 0.3 inches has been tallied in Philadelphia, with similar miniscule amounts falling in New York and Boston.