Rochester’s weather has a ‘new normal’, and the numbers may surprise you

Weather Blog

(WROC-TV, Rochester, NY)- It was around this time last month that I let you know about Rochester’s ‘new normal’ weather, as defined by a new thirty year data set that was being prepared by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the governing office of the National Weather Service.

Well friends, the results have been tabulated, and some of them may surprise you, while others, may fall in line with what you may already think may be happening to the climate of Western New York and the Finger Lakes.

Before we look at a breakdown of the numbers for Rochester, let’s put some of this in perspective.

First of all, it’s important to remember that weather and climate are two very different subjects. In a nutshell, weather is “what you get”, while climate is “what you expect”. If calculations are performed on all of the “what you get” over a certain period of time, an “expectation” can be determined.

The long term normal and the U.S. climate normal are two VERY different ideas. U.S. Climate normals are designed to better understand what is happening today. They are also best suited for that purpose, which is why they are updated on a ten year interval using thirty years of data.

The NCEI (National Centers for Environmental Information) website states this best. They are the organization that performs most of these tabulations.

“Normals are not merely averages of raw data. Thirty years of U.S. weather station observations are compiled, checked for quality, compared to surrounding stations, filled in for missing periods, and used to calculate not only averages, but many other measures. These then provide a basis for comparisons of temperature, precipitation, and other variables to today’s observations.”

This new data set impacts more than just the work done by the meteorologists in the private and government sectors. The engineering, energy, and agricultural sectors of the American economy are all affected in large ways by this new information. Think of it as the Census, but for weather data!

WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY FOR ROCHESTER

The two maps below show the annual temperature and precipitation changes by percentage between the last thirty year normal data set and the newest one that was just issued a couple of weeks ago. Basically, we’re looking at the data comparison of the old data set of 1981-2010 versus the new data set 1991-2020.

Courtesy of NCEI/NOAA

The only cooler than normal trend noted for the lower 48 comes from the northern Plains into Montana.

Courtesy of NCEI/NOAA

As for precipitation, you can see areas out West have definitely trended a lot drier (no surprise there), while areas most east are largely wetter.

Here are the numbers for Rochester. As you can see, each month has averaged warmer than the previous set of normals here.

Courtesy: National Weather Service, Buffalo, NY

As far as precipitation goes, Rochester is also largely wetter than it was based upon the previous set of normals, but there are some months that are now averaging drier.

Courtesy: National Weather Service, Buffalo, NY

Now here’s something I bet you may or may not have seen coming. Rochester is actually now SNOWIER than it used to be! This actually would fit the bill with respect to us seeing more precipitation, but it certainly isn’t probably something most would think to be the case.

Courtesy: National Weather Service, Buffalo, NY

So, in summary, Rochester, you’re new normal is a slightly warmer, wetter, and…snowier one!

The next data set will come out in another ten years. Stay tuned to see what happens at that time!

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