Good news from the month of February! Precipitation was above normal and that makes 3 months in a row with above normal precipitation. Snowfall was almost 6 inches above normal (in Wausau). We had 15.5 inches of snow but we never did have any big blizzard. The snowstorms were lighter but they were more frequent coming 3 to 4 inches at a time.
Combined with below normal temps and we had some of best snow conditions in long time. Snowmobilers rejoiced! Skiers and snowshoers (is that a word?) loved it as well. Temperatures were below normal for the first time in three months. Last year was very warm with most months above normal, but now 3 out of the last 6 months have been below normal (September, October, February). The coldest temp of the month was -16 which will probably end up being the coldest temperature of the Winter. Here are the official stats (for Wausau):
Average High: 25.6 (normal 28.1)
Average Low: 9.1 (normal 10.0)
Precipitation: 1.47 inches (normal 0.92 inches)
Snowfall: 15.5 inches (normal 9.6 inches)
Highest Temperature: 38 on the 10th
Lowest Temperature: -16 on the 17th
And now on to some of the most recent news about the transformation of transportation in the U.S. New technology promises to make driving more efficient, quiet and clean. It is starting with self-driving cars and electric vehicles. Self-driving cars!? If you haven’t been reading the weather blog recently or some of the more popular tech-news sites out there, you might be surprised that self-driving cars have logged millions of accident free miles on real highways in tests over the last couple of years. The “prevailing wisdom” is that there is no way a computer(software) can drive a car. The reality is much different. The ONLY thing preventing people from buying and safely using self-driving cars is cost, legal concerns, and attitudes. The “attitude” comes from the “free open road” part of the American psyche. Owning an automobile gives a person a degree of freedom, or at least it used to. In the modern day, owning a car can actually be a liability more than an asset. For people living in many urban areas, having a normal car might actually reduce freedom. Taxes, insurance, licenses, fees, maintenance, are growing every year and are a real pain in the you-know-what. If you could share a self-driving electric car with a few of your neighbors to make trips around town, you could be substantially more free. You would be lowering your impact on the environment as well – in a voluntary and peaceful manner (while avoiding traditional taxes/fees and arbitrary speeding tickets).
So what is the latest news? The Nissan Leaf is the latest car to get in on the action. Oxford University out-fitted the Leaf with some cameras and other sensors and it “went out for a spin”. Also, another reporter took a ride in a self-driving car and found the experience a lot better than the ”soul-crushing” effort most people put into their daily urban commute.
Another interesting electric vehicle story involved Tesla. A New York Times “reporter” tried to take the Tesla Model S on a long raod trip in an effort to test the stated range. The “reporter” ran out of juice before the end of the journey and basically and smeared Tesla about it. Tesla fired back, defending the performance of the auto. Tesla checked the data recorder on the car and it turns out that the “reporter” did not follow the instructions about saving electricity during the journey. The moral of the story is that EVs still cannot match the distance of fossil fuel vehicles (although they are getting close), but they are great cars – especially the Model S. There is not much reason, other than cost, that most urban commuters could not be using electric cars right now.
Have a nice Friday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on March 1, 2013