UNH's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space
UNH State Climatologist: 2001 Was a Year of Record-Breaking Weather
By Sharon Keeler
UNH News Bureau
January 11, 2002
DURHAM, N.H. -- 2001 was a year of weather extremes, says New Hampshire state climatologist Barry Keim.
Keim, associate professor in the geography department and in UNH's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space says the year was marked by contrasts -- record-breaking snowfalls, unusually warm temperatures, and extreme drought.
The following is Keim's list of the five top New Hampshire weather events of 2001, in chronological order:
"Nothing unusual about this storm," says Keim. "It was a classic Nor'easter where we took the brunt of the storm. The media actually portrayed the storm as a bust, because it was predicted to slam the entire East Coast, but instead the heavy snow was deflected north into southern New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York."
Keim adds that snowstorms during March can be particularly strong because sea surface temperatures are warming and weather systems carry more moisture. "But you still have cold air coming down from Canada. When the two air masses merge, you can get really big snow falls."
"Our diligent weather observer in Greenland noted that he had a snowpack depth of 40 inches on the ground, which was the deepest he had ever recorded in about 25 years of taking observations," says Keim.
Snow depths reached 52 inches in Alexandria, 49 inches in Fitzwilliam, 45 inches in Meredith, 44 inches in New Durham, and 46 inches in Walpole.
"By years end, the state was in the second worst drought of the past century, according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index, bowing only to the drought of 1965," says Keim. "Further-more, these are the worst drought conditions ever experienced at this point in the year, wreaking havoc on the ski industry which has not had much snow and needs water to produce it artificially."