We're now past the three coldest calendar months of the year - December, January, and February - a period known as "meteorological winter." For the fourth straight time, meteorological winter was relatively mild, compared to the long-term average. This past December was about five degrees warmer than average, January about two, and February about four.

This is a pretty good example of how averages can sometimes be deceptive. I'm sure you remember the very cold period from mid-January to early February, when the temperature didn't get above 40oF for three weeks! That cold period got lost in the averages because early January was relatively mild, and so was late February. In the averages, the warm spells just overwhelmed the cold spells.

The lesson is: be wary of averages - and that's true not just of the weather - sometimes averaging can hide a lot of variation.

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