Shiver or roast? All in a normal year

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Katy and Peter Hart take their child, Joona, and dogs The Griff and Mr. Bigs for a walk downtown Sunday. The high for Grand Junction on the first day of 2012 was 44 degrees, which was seven degrees above average for the date.

In moments of extreme, or extreme-seeming weather, it’s possible and very, very common to think that never before has it been so cold/hot/windy/rainy/whatever.

Remember Jan. 2 last year, when the temperature dipped to minus 9? Man, that was cold, the coldest day of 2011. But was it a record? Nope. Grand Junction froze at minus 23 on Jan. 13, 1963.

And remember the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk days of June 28 and Aug. 24, when the Grand Valley sweltered at 101? Man, that was hot, but not as hot as July 21, 2005, when the temperature was 106, according to the National Weather Service.

In fact, and taken as a whole, 2011 was simply ... average. What felt at the time like extreme weather in Grand Junction was actually right down the middle — not too hot, not too cold. The average maximum temperature for the year was 65.2, a mere 0.4 degree lower than the normal value of 65.6, and the 2011 average minimum temperature was 39, only slightly lower than the 39.7 normal value, according to the National Weather Service.

As for precipitation, Grand Junction had 9.76 inches in 2011, far from the record 15.69 inches in 1957 and the paltry 3.64 inches in 1900.

Even December, which seemed oddly warm, was a normal month, weatherwise.

“If we’re just generalizing, it was very close to average,” said Travis Booth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

All of the daily highs and lows during December 2011 averaged to 28.7 degrees, and the normal value is 28.5. Grand Junction saw less precipitation than normal, with 0.35 inch in the entire month of December when the normal value is 0.59 inch, Booth said.

And Grand Valley residents can except the average weather to remain just that in the coming week, Booth said.

“It looks like it’s going to be very quiet across the entire Western Slope.” he said. “It looks like temperatures will warm slightly over the next several days. We should be in the mid- to upper 40s for highs all the way through Saturday, with overnight lows in the low to mid-20s.”

Which is actually, he said, slightly warmer than average. Add to that blue skies, and average makes the leap into very, very nice.


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