By Heidi Sonen & Roscoe Shaw
Crozet Gets More Snow Than the North Pole
Crozet gets more snow than the North Pole, more rain than Portland, and is hotter than Miami Beach during July afternoons. That all sounds crazy but it’s true. Climate can be weird. Also, figures don’t lie but liars frequently figure, so I’ve done some number twisting to come up with some strange climate facts. Heidi is just rolling her eyes.
First, the headline: “Crozet gets more Snow than the North Pole.” This is definitely true. Santa Clauseis generally too busy to take accurate snowfall measurements and there isn’t much else up at the top of the world so we don’t know for sure. But the generally accepted annual snowfall at the pole is only about six inches. Crozet, by comparison, averages 18 inches, which triples Santa’s total, although the snow definitely melts faster here. The North Pole is so cold that the air contains very little moisture and is essentially a very cold desert. Because of this, Atlanta and the North Pole are roughly tied for snowfall.
Clearly it cannot be true that more rain falls in Crozet than in Portland, Oregon. After all, Heidi and I lived in Portland and were avid rollerbladers back in the trendy 90s. Our biggest skating hazard was moss that grew on the sidewalks and bike trails. Also, you had to watch out for banana slugs, which, in fact, look just like a peeled banana left in the drizzle. Disgusting. Rain seemingly fell all the time between November and April and it wasn’t uncommon to go a month straight without a single glimpse of the giant, gorgeous, snow-covered volcanoes.
But when you check the annual rainfall totals, Crozet weighs in with 46 inches of rain a year with just 37 inches for Portland. We get heavy rains here and get it over with. In Portland, light rain and drizzle just go on and on and on. The catch is that Portland gets rain about four times as often as we do when you look at the hourly reports.
So maybe we have convinced you of the first couple of climate crazies, but it must be hotter in Miami Beach than Crozet. In July, our average high temperature is 88.4, which is slightly warmer than the Miami Beach average of 88.3. Crozet certainly gets more days over 95 which are almost unheard of at Miami Beach. The catch here, of course, is that on July afternoons, sea breezes kick in along the beach, which limit the heat. Also, ubiquitous afternoon thunderstorms usually dampen Miami Beach’s heat.
During nighttime, Crozet is cooler with an average July low of 66 versus a sticky 79 degrees in Miami Beach. In January, it’s no contest with Miami Beach averaging a pleasant 68 degrees which is a full 31 degrees warmer than the sometimes snow-covered land in Crozet.
October was warm and dry and very pleasant. The average high and low were 73 and 50, which is about three degrees warmer than normal. Rainfall was just 1.19 inches, but our water table is in good shape and the growing season is essentially over, so the lack of rain didn’t cause much trouble. The last twelve months have been very warm with temperatures running a full two degrees above our long-term average. This has been true globally as well and 2016 will likely set many global high temperature records. El Nino was very strong early this year, but it has now faded to a weak La Nina and that has already cooled global temperatures to more normal levels.