Sunday, January 02, 2011

12 Days of Christmas and the Weather

My Grandma Hahn held with the old superstition that the weather during Christmastide predicted the weather for the coming year. For a long time, I mis-remembered the legend as being the weather on the first 12 days of the new year, but it always seemed to make sense. January 7 would be July, and it was usually a little unseasonably warm that day. I think it was last year, maybe year before last, that my mom had said it was the 12 days of Christmas, starting with December 25th that predicted the weather.

I've always had the best intentions to compare the appropriate prediction dates to the actual weather, but I lose my notes or I'd forget to check it once the summer got here, that kind of thing. This year, though, I found that the National Weather Service has some excellent tools -- such as a chart of the average high, low and cumulative rainfall for each month of the year; a chart for each month of the year showing the average high, low and rainfall by day; and a chart that shows the 30-year average for each month (1971 to 2000). So I went back over all of last year's data so I could check the accuracy of the old legend.

The first box shows for each day of Christmastide 2009-2010, the high, low and rainfall amount in Pensacola, Florida. The second box shows the average high, low and rainfall for each month of 2010. You can follow each row straight across to see if the Christmastide weather predicted the actual weather.

As you can see, the temperatures in January, February and March are spot on. One could argue that December 31, being unseasonably warm, predicted the higher temperatures in July. Sort of. I'll be following this for next year, and I'm particularly curious to see if we get snow this February, since we had a few snowflakes fall on the day after Christmas.

I've thought about going back a few years, but it is a little time consuming. One comparison I would like to make is what Grandma recorded in a diary some thirty years ago. My mom has the book, but at the time, I didn't know how to compare it with any actual temperatures for that year. That'll be interesting.

Something else interesting is the comparison of last year's temperatures with the historical averages for a 30-year span from 1971 to 2000. With the exception of April's low, 2010 temperatures were colder than average in winter and warmer than average in the other seasons. While some months of 2010 had drastically more rain than average and others had drastically less, by the end of the year, we were about an inch-and-a-half below average for the year.

At least we didn't have any hurricanes. Knock wood.

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