Wet, windy, warm and sunny are terms to describe weather, and there was plenty of it on the Vineyard in 2010. There was record rainfall. The National Weather Service cooperative station recorded 56.18 inches of precipitation for the year, 10 inches above average.
Yet for all the rain clouds, the Vineyard had one of the sunniest, hot, dry summers in a while. Much of the drama of bad wet weather, or the threat of bad weather, came late in the summer, making the year good for tourism and also fine for the aquifer.
The sun shone most of the summer. The temperature reached a high of 94 degrees on July 6, right after a mostly favorable Fourth of July weekend. The temperature hit 91 degrees on July 5. July was warm, with the high in the 80s or 90s on all but three days in the month. Fine weather ran through all of July and into August and was caused by a huge weather system, a Bermuda high in the Atlantic.
The kind weather was hard on many garden plants in need of water. The three down-Island town water departments saw a lot of water use, considerably more than the mild, cool summer of 2009.
A late summer northeaster came on the fourth Monday of August and scarred what was a perfect summer. High winds closed some roads and there was flooding. Waves produced by the wind destroyed a 36-foot unattended schooner in the Vineyard Haven outer harbor. It also kept President Barack Obama from playing golf; he took it in stride and played basketball in the Oak Bluffs School gymnasium.
The following week Hurricane Earl was the sore spot in the year. The hurricane’s roar was worse than its bite as it passed hundreds of miles southeast of Nantucket on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. When it came to wind and weather, Earl was far less significant than the previous northeaster, but it produced a lot of fear, affecting those vacationers planning their three-day holiday weekend.
Businesses boarded up their windows and closed on that Friday. Recreational boats were hauled out of the water. Emergency preparedness crews were readied and Red Cross shelters were opened. Yet the Labor Day weekend ended up balmy and fine.
The storm did make it into the record books as a big producer of rain. More than any previous hurricane in decades, Earl brought the Island rain, 6.21 inches by Saturday morning.
There was a prodigious amount of wind late in the summer, and any angler who went fishing from the shore or on a boat, has a keen memory of the year in wind.
“It was the windiest fall. I can’t remember a fall with so much wind. I had to cancel 31 charters during the [Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish] Derby,” said Buddy Vanderhoop, of Tomahawk Charters.
Winter made a chilly mark early and late in the year. While it was an average snowfall for the year, some of it came in the usually snowless December. This was the year of a rare white Christmas. The year started with a four-inch snowstorm on Jan. 2 and 3. The rest of the month was wet. February offered one big five-inch snowstorm. Total snowfall for the year was 24.79 inches, about an inch above normal for the Vineyard.
Paul Walker, a meteorologist for Accuweather.com, said this year opened with the jet stream pushing storms to the south of New England. This winter going into the New Year is different. The jet stream is farther north. He said that the winter storms ahead will bring bad weather from the north.