EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 16, 2014

Classic New England winter

Midway through February, the region is on pace for a snowier than average winter, but some have been far worse.

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It was severely cold too. The low temperature that January was minus 6 with a mean minimum of 14.9. Bitterly cold temperatures continued through that February, with a low of 3 and a mean minimum of 16.2.

There are at least three winters over the past decade that tower over this winter for total snowfall, particularly 2004-05 when Haverhill recorded 99 inches of snow, according to the National Climatic Data Center. During 2010-11, 88.6 inches of snow fell across the city and 86.1 inches during 2008-09, agency data shows.

The National Climatic Data Center had no official snowfall totals for Haverhill this winter, but there were local estimates of more than 55 inches of snow. Heavy accumulation during the final weeks of winter could make this one of the snowiest seasons in recent memory.

But Breton doesn’t consider this winter particularly severe, extreme or harsh.

“We have seen plenty of winters like this one in the past, and will continue to see cold and snowy winters like this one in the future,” Breton said.

“New England is in a unique spot with mountains to the northwest and the ocean to the southeast. Both play a major role in our weather and the development of snowstorms,” he said.

“The driver of the weather this winter has been the cold. Arctic cold has dominated much of the northeastern United States since the start of the new year. Many of our air masses originated in the Arctic – and then traveled south (modifying some by the time they got here). In my view, the cold hasn’t necessarily been unprecedented — but the fact that it has simply not let up is quite amazing,” he said.

While he may see it as a typical “cold and snowy winter,” Breton doesn’t regard it as a normal one.

The winter so far has featured up and down temperatures — with relatively few days close to “normal,” according to Breton.

“In January, for example, Lawrence hit a high of 60 degrees on the 7th and 11th. On the 3rd, the high was only 14 degrees. There have been many mornings in the single digits above and below zero. There have been relatively few days around the ‘normal’ value,” he said.

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