Weather Bulletin: Winter's the Normal, the New Normal
by H. Sterling Burnett
Winter is finally loosening its icy grip across the Northeastern U.S. and much of the globe. Of course, as they always do, cold spells may still pop up here and there into early spring.
Retailers report the extended cold and snow this winter have hit sales hard. A Bloomberg survey of 86 economists had forecast a modest 0.3 percent increase in retail sales for February – almost a full percentage point too high. While online retailers saw a 2.2 percent increase in sales in February, overall retail sales saw a 0.6 percent decline – the third straight monthly decline in retail sales this winter. Despite lower gasoline prices and a stronger dollar, shoppers seemed to be staying out of the weather and shopping from home. Nine of the 13 major retail categories saw declines, with auto sales falling by 2.5 percent – the largest decline since the polar vortex-driven snowfall of January 2015.
The United Kingdom is expecting a fresh bout of winter as a cold front blows in from Scandinavia and Russia. Temperatures are expected to drop to near freezing and additional snowfall is expected in parts of the UK. Much of the country is expected to see temperatures as much as 3.8° C lower than average for March.
A new cold front is expected to hit Northern China as well, dropping temperatures 6° C on average for the coming week. Combined with high winds and arid conditions, dusty weather is expected, getting an early start on the spring dust storms that contribute to seasonal breathing difficulties in Northern China.
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