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Daryl Ritchison, Published March 08 2014

Weather talk: Leap day can affect climate statistics

Leap day. It’s what we call Feb. 29; the day added onto February every fourth year to keep the seasons from slowly drifting through time due to Earth taking slightly longer than 365 days to revolve around the sun.

Leap day, on occasion, does impact climate statistics and this past winter was possibly one of those times. Our recently completed winter was the 16th coldest on record. However, if you leave out the Feb. 29ths of the past, this winter would rank 17th.

The difference? February 29, 1904. Including that day makes the winter of 1903-1904 average temperature 4.4 degrees. Without that day, the average temperature is 4.2 degrees.

The winter of 2013-2014 that we just completed had an average of 4.3 degrees. So, if you include that leap day, this winter’s ranking changes by one position.

There are other examples where leap day has changed certain statistics slightly, but it tends to be only the weather geeks that probably notice.


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