First it was wet, then it was dry, then it was warm, then it snowed. 2007 was a year of extremes that, in the end, averaged out to be just about normal!
So, let's take a quick look back at the four big weather stories of 2007 (at least in my mind).
Running Hot, Cold and Wet
To begin, November and December of 2006 were roughly 5.0°F and 9.0°F degrees warmer than average, respectively. This extraordinary stretch of warm weather continued through January 13th, with the average daily temperatures more than 17°F degrees above normal.
Then, the bottom dropped out of the thermometer - about 4°F below normal for the rest of January, 6°F below normal for the entire month of February, and 10°F below normal through March 9th!
And, it started snowing - at least a trace of snow fell at Hancock International Airport all but four days between January 14th and March 9th, while a mere 141 inches (that's 11.75 feet) fell on the Oswego County village of Redfield between February 3rd and 12th!
The snow season finally came to an end with a 7.0 inch plop of wet, heavy snow on April 16th to cap off a stretch of thirteen consecutive days with temperatures below normal!
With all that snow (close to 120 inches between January 13th and April 16th), we entered the month of May more than four inches wetter than normal, then . . . .
Dry and Getting Drier
The sun came out and it essentially rained on only three days, the 15th, 16th and 27th, in May - that's it! Over the entire month, we received only 0.80 inches of rain, or more than 2.5 inches below normal. By the end of the month, many Central New York lawns were already beginning to go dormant, above!
Stating the obvious, this was not a great way to start the growing season - and it continued to get drier as the summer progressed. From May through September, most of Central New York received only about 70% of the normal rainfall total (about 13 inches versus an average of about 19 inches).
While not exactly a crisis, many parts of Central New York were certainly experiencing moderate drought conditions by the time October arrived.
When is Autumn Coming?
Normally, by the middle of October, the nights are getting a bit nippy. In fact, the average first frost date in Syracuse is right about the 15th - give or take a couple of days. This past year the average daily low temperature through the entire month of October was an almost balmy 49°F - and the first really hard frost didn't occur until the early morning of November 3rd!
Without the typical cool, crisp nights of October, many people claimed that many trees didn't exhibit great fall foliage color. I suppose in some instances that might have been true, but I had no problem finding plenty of brilliant fall foliage, above left!
Something that was certainly affected by the warm evenings was leaf drop, or more precisely, delayed leaf drop. Many trees didn't start dropping leaves until the first wide-spread snowfall on November 16th. The result is that many lawns all across Central New York are still covered with leaves. If these leaves are left in place all winter, there are going to be a lot of dead lawns come next spring!
Another thing that was affected was our Sunday afternoon routine. Instead of huddling inside on a typically cool/cold late October weekend, Beth and I spent the afternoon of Sunday, October 21st (that's right, October 21st), with our toes in the sand at Southwick Beach State Park enjoying a high temperature of 77°F, at the top of this page!
Not too Hot, Not too Cold - and Plenty of Water
While October was extraordinarily warm, the year came to a close with November and December being quite close to normal, temperature-wise. The gradual cooling during the last sixty days of the year helped the trees, shrubs, perennials and other plants in our landscapes and gardens enter a state of maximum winter hardiness before the first blast of sub-zero weather hit the region during the first couple of days of 2008.
And, as a bonus, November and December saw almost 2.5 inches more precipitation than normal fall across the region. Despite much of it being in the form of snow, nearly fifty inches fell in December, a lot of this moisture soaked into the ground as the soil in many gardens wasn't frozen.
When Everything is Said and Done . . . ?
With this last burst of moisture, 2007 ended up nearly 1.5 inches wetter than normal - despite the moderate drought much of the region experienced over parts of the summer. Meanwhile, though the average temperature over the entire 365 days of 2007 was just under a degree above normal, we ended up just about three degrees cooler than in 2006.
From where I sit, my thinking is that if you've done a good job caring for your lawn, landscape and garden in 2007, with adequate moisture in the ground and a gradual cooling over the last couple of months of 2007, most of our trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, etc., should make it through the winter months in great shape - assuming the winter of 2008 doesn't throw us any major surprises!