I always refer to “averages” rather than “normals” when I talk about how weather might be any given time of the year. This winter certainly has not been normal thus far, with a mild January and more rain falling than snow. So, we’re going to take a bit of a detour from what I had intended to write about for February, which was skiing and the art of snowmaking. Instead, I’ll visit those topics in March, should February bring us some snow worthy of skiing upon and cold weather capable of allowing snow to be made.
Averages for February tell of cold and snow, but again, average is the operative word. In the span of the shortest month of the year, we’ll see our highs go from 32 to 38 degrees in any given year. Another piece of good news for those of you longing for spring: we gain 1 hour and 12 minutes of sunlight along the way as well.
Of course, there are those subtle reminders that February is nothing but pure unadulterated winter. There are plenty of record lows in the -10 to -20 range…24 in fact. And while we haven’t seen much snow this winter so far, we can easily make up for what we’ve failed to gain. February averages nearly 13” of snow each year, but has seen much more at times. The top 10 snowiest on record go from 40.7” in 1893 to 25.1” in 1910. Interestingly enough, of the top 20 biggest snowstorms of all time in Albany, only three have occurred in February. The most recent storm worthy of this distinction occupies number 16 on the list with 17.9” falling on the 15th and 16th in 1958.
This February is a special one, because we’ll witness something we see only once every four years. I’m not talking about leap year, but the 2006 Winter Games, which will be held in Torino, Italy from February 10-26. You might see or hear the Americanized spelling of the city as Turin, but many media outlets will refer to the hosting site as Torino. By the way, it’s the largest city ever to host a winter Olympiad. This year’s American athletes are being touted as the most talented in US history, which will make for very exciting games.
Torino is located in the Italian Alps in northeastern Italy, near the French border. The average temperature in Torino this time of year ranges from a high of 47 to a low of 31 and it snows about once a week. As of this writing, only about a third of the trails were open with about a 1 to 2 foot base. But by the time the events get started, I’m sure nature and/or man will load up the slopes and terrain upon which the world-class athletes will unleash their skills.
NBC will be covering the games with 416 hours of coverage to catch those events. In addition, NBC has come up with a fantastic website, www.nbcolympics.com. I don’t usually get excited about the World Wide Web, but this is a great site where you can spend a lot of time learning about every aspect of the Winter Games, and once they get started you can keep track of the events on a daily basis. Just log on, and enter your television service provider. You will be paired with WNYT to read about local coverage and even about Saratoga’s Kathleen Kauth, who is a member of the US women’s hockey team.
Enjoy the games, and the last full month of winter!
Jason Gough is a meteorologist with NewsChannel 13. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time-