In the opening paragraph of this issue's article “U.S. Weather Highlights 2013: Endless Winter, Tornadoes, Flash Floods, More Winter,” Douglas LeComte uses the phrase “a seemingly endless parade of winter storms,” noting that the latter half of the 2012-2013 winter was brutal for many. For some reason, I simply don't remember last winter being that bad. At least not compared with this winter, when those of us on the East Coast have seen repeated inundations of snow thanks to a persistent Polar Vortex. Perhaps I am just suffering from intense cabin fever, like many in this region of the world, and have decided that snow is no longer exciting and it's high time we moved on to spring.
But I think my amnesia about last winter is typical. Whatever you are going through in the moment always feels worse than what you have gone through in the past. That's one of the reasons it is so interesting to read through the articles in our annual Almanac issue—to help us remember what last year was like, meteorologically speaking, and catalogue where we are in the grand scheme of weather records.
Last year was a mixed bag for weather enthusiasts. The hurricane season in both the Eastern North Pacific and Atlantic were lackluster, though Mexico and the Philippines were both hard hit by storms that resulted in many losses. So while those of us in the United States did not see a single hurricane make landfall last year, people who were in the few strong storms' paths suffered devastating impacts.
It was a similar story for tornado season, with the overall number of twisters falling below average, but localized damage and losses trending upward. The authors' speculation that increased population density could be to blame for the high losses resulting from fewer tornadic events is food for thought, as the discussion about sustainable development grows in and around the environmental community.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, there were numerous weather extremes to keep everyone guessing, ranging from record heat, to crippling snowstorms, severe flooding, and drought.
I hope you enjoy this look back at 2013. 2014 is still young, but already we've experienced more extreme weather than in recent years, so we will have to see what the rest of the year has in store. And you can be sure we'll be telling you all about it here in the pages of Weatherwise.