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Little snow and warm temperatures made for an unseasonable winter in CT

February 28, 2023 - Storrs Mansfield, Ct. - A cyclist makes their way along freshly cleared Route 195 in Mansfield Monday morning after 4-8 inches of snow fell across Connecticut Monday night into Tuesday morning in the first major snowfall of the season. (Mark Mirko/Connecticut Public)
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
A cyclist travels along freshly cleared Route 195 in Mansfield after 4 to 8 inches of snow fell across Connecticut in the first major snowfall of the season that took place at the end of February.

March 20 marked the first day of spring, but much of Connecticut has had springlike weather for months.

Average temperatures from December through February were about 35 degrees, the second-warmest on record in Connecticut, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center. There was also little snow aside from a recent nor’easter that hit northwestern Connecticut hardest and brought mostly rain to other parts of the state.

Both temperature and bigger-picture weather patterns played a role in the unusual winter, said Jon Gottschalck with the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“This was a combination of factors that are a part of the natural variability within the system,” Gottschalck said. “Meaning La Niña conditions and also shifts to the storm track to the west.”

The Northeast is among the fastest-warming regions in the country. That trend shows no signs of stopping anytime soon with impacts of human-made climate change.

NOAA’s seasonal outlook predicts that average spring 2023 temperatures will be above normal across Connecticut and southern New England. Gottschalck said this matches trends over the past 10 to 15 years. Notably, the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2010.

He said a lack of snow can contribute to above-normal spring temperatures in part because snow helps cool surface temperatures.

“That’s just because of less water being available,” Gottschalck said. “Instead of a slow melt, where it kind of keeps things cool for a little bit longer, there’s not much snow there.”

On March 20, the United Nations released its latest climate report, which warned Earth is on its way to warming 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century unless humans cut emissions quickly. In the report, the nation’s top climate scientists advise limiting warming to no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid the most devastating global effects of the climate crisis.

Michayla Savitt is a reporter at CT Public, with an interest in covering climate change and the environment. She was a newsroom intern for the station in summer 2022, but began her time there as a production intern for WNPR's local talk shows. Michayla is an alumna of the health & science reporting program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Before that, she was a reporter/anchor for various radio outlets in New York state.