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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 9:33am.
The wild year that was. 2010 broke records for heat, cold, rain and even snow as Mother Nature threw all she had at Southeastern North Carolina. Often when you look back at the climate record for a year, you'll find a common theme -- but this past year the only thing that stayed the same from season to season was that it was extreme.
Starting at the beginning of last year, we had some intense cold. The start of January 2010 featured some of the lowest temperatures in a two week stretch seen here in the Port City, and the winter season finished as one of the coolest on record for Wilmington. Not only was it cold - but we also saw a good old snow storm too Valentine's Day weekend, which brought as much as 7 inches of snow to parts of the area.
But as cold as the winter was, Summer was the opposite. Persistent, relentless heat began in June and did not relent until September. It may not have felt like it, but by the time it was all said and done the Summer of 2010 was the hottest on record here in the Port City in several categories.
All time records were set for average temperature, average high temperature, average low temperature, and number of 90 degree days (57) for the June/July/August time period. What's interesting is that only 3 record highs were set at Wilmington during that time. It was really the persistent 90 degree heat and oppressive overnight temperatures in the mid 70's that made the summer a record-breaker.
Heading into the Fall, rainfall deficits were running high in the Port City. In fact, in final weeks of September the area was running over 15 inches dry for the calendar year. Many of us were begging for rain. Boy did we get more than we bargained for!
The last five days of September featured a nearly non-step deluge of tropical rains across the Wilmington area that will not soon be forgotton. During that time, records for 3-day/4-day/ and 5-day rainfall set during the infamous Hurricane Floyd fell as more than 20 inches of rain soaked the area. This led to flooding that didn't just last for days, but weeks along rivers and streams. A rainfall deficit of 15 inches turned into a surplus in only a few days time. Without any tropical systems affecting the area, this rain event was THE weather story of 2010.
Heading into the fall, the weather returned to a warm and dry pattern - but the cold would return with a vengeance once we flipped the calendar to December.
December 2010 ended up as the coldest December ever in Wilmington and the 4th coldest month on record, with an average temperature of 38.0. The cold was relentless, with a whopping 21 mornings in the 20's or colder -- even more than seen in New York City or Washington, DC this year.
But not only was December cold, it also brought some Christmas-time snows to parts of our area. Dropping as much as six inches to Bladen and Robeson counties that stayed on the ground all the way through the New Year.
So heading into 2011 it's hard to say what the weather will bring. Will it be warm? cold? snowy? or rainy? If it's like 2010, it will be all of the above!
By: Tim Buckley