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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Climate-Watch, February 1999

Climatic Events of the Month

National Climatic Data Center - March 11, 1999
February 1889 extremes
"A Century Ago- February 1899"
Ice Observed in the Gulf of Mexico

Top of Page Introduction

The February 1999 U.S. tornado count was a bit more in character for the season than had been January's total, with a preliminary count of only 6 tornadoes through mid month compared to the all-time January record last month of 169. Arctic chill maintained a grip on Alaska through the first third of the month and set some all-time minimum temperature records for the month of February. Details of the records are given in Selected U.S. City and State Extremes. The weather pattern across the lower 48 was influenced by a Pacific jet stream which kept most of the country above normal in terms of temperature. Globally, parts of the Alps and other mountainous areas in southeastern Europe are plagued with avalanches and cold weather. In contrast, flooding rains have hit parts of the Philippines and Indochina.

This month's report also focuses on the "Great Cold Wave of February 1899" which featured temperatures below zero as far south as the panhandle of Florida where Tallahassee recorded a low of -2 degrees F, on February 13th, 1899. This month actually featured two different cold waves, both of which set some all-time state records which exist to this day. (The first cold wave around the 10th of the month, set the all time Ohio state record low temperature of -39 at Milligan.) A quote from the Monthly Weather Review of February 1899 remarks on the Great Cold Wave, " These cold waves established many new landmarks for future reference - whether we consider the instrumental readings or the physical phenomena resulting from the cold. The most striking of the latter perhaps was the flow of ice down the Mississippi River on the 17th, past New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico, an event never before witnessed within the memory of man. Ice an inch thick formed at the mouth of the Mississippi in East and Garden Island bays, and the temperature fell to 10 degrees F. on the 13th. The loss of human life, from January 29th to February 13th, by freezing and avalanches (in Colorado) as near as can be ascertained was 105 persons".

NCDC is now archiving and keeping track of individual and historic events and will present a chronology of the major events each month in an updated WWW page that will highlight national and international extremes. The format of the WWW page will concentrate on "major" climatic events across the U.S. and the globe. Since this is an on-going effort, the data and information will be updated frequently during the month, so check back often for the latest updates. NCDC's scientists will also provide links to other relevant institutions and agencies dealing with natural hazards. As noted in the January 1999 report the data are preliminary and subject to change and furthur verification. A periodically this page will feature an expanded report on historical noteworthy climate events.

Major events discussed in this month's report so far include the Arctic chill in Alaska and revisiting the Great Cold Wave of February 1899.

Top of Page Special Summaries of Extreme Events During February 1999

Top of Page Surface Weather Maps Feb 11-14, 1899

Surface Weather on February 11, 1899
Figure 1
( Click on image for larger view. )

Feb 11, 1899
Figure 1 shows the surface maps at 8 am and 8 pm on Feb 11th, 1899. Notice the large area of high pressure centered north of Montana during the morning and see the position of the Arctic High in the evening over western South Dakota. The zero degree F. isotherm stretched from Maine, across portions of the Great Lakes, into Central Texas, then back northwestward across the Rocky Mountain states into Montana.
Surface Weather on February 12, 1899
Figure 2
( Click on image for larger view. )

Feb 12, 1899
Figure 2 shows the surface maps 24 hours later at 8 am and 8 pm on Feb 12, 1899. The Arctic High moves from the lower plains into north central Texas. Biting cold with zero degree temperatures reached from coastal Maine, through Pennsylvania, into the southern plains back northwestward into the Rocky Mountain states. Extremely cold temperatures pushed into the southeastern states with readings in the 20's in the pandhandle of Florida, while southeast Florida was still mild as an area of low pressure forms and tracks northeastward. The following state record low was set on February 12th: Nebraska with -47 degrees F at Camp Clark.
Surface Weather on February 13, 1899
Figure 3
( Click on image for larger view. )

Feb 13, 1899
Figure 3 shows another sequence of surface charts again at 8 am and 8 pm on Feb 13th, 1899. The Arctic high is in the western Gulf states and an area of low pressure moves northward along the Carolina Coast into southern New England. This storm was one of several storms that brought abundant snowfall to parts of the country. This mid month blizzard, sometimes called the "Great Eastern Blizzard," brought 25-30 inches of snow to the Washington D.C. area. A deep snow cover over portions of the country helped insulate plant and vegitation root systems and keep them from freezing during the month lessening the overall damage. The following state record low temperatures were set on February 13th: Florida with -2 degrees F at Tallahassee and Louisiana with -16 at Minden.
Surface Weather on February 14, 1899
Figure 4
( Click on image for a larger view. )

Feb 14, 1899
Figure 4 shows the last sequence of surface charts again at 8 am and 8 pm on Feb 14th, 1899. The east coast blizzard has pulled to northeast Canada and Arctic High pressure has moved eastward behind the storm to a position along the Carolina coast by 8 pm. Note temperatures on the 8 am chart were well below zero degree F in parts of the Carolinas. In contrast, temperatures in the evening hours were warmer across western Montana than in the panhandle of Florida.

Top of Page Additional Links/Resources

Top of Page Selected U.S. City and State Extremes

The Selected U.S. City and State Extremes gives a listing of new records that were set chronologically across the U.S. during February 1999.

Top of Page Oregon-Washington Heavy Rainfall

Preliminary precipitation totals in Oregon and Washington for January-February 1999, 2-month totals, amounts listed in inches and hundredths for totals exceeding 15.00:

   DAYS = Number of days of data for the 2-month period
          -- Note that some stations did not report for all 59 days
     ID = National Weather Service Station ID
STATION = Station name
 COUNTY = County for the station
     ST = State
   ELEV = Elevation in feet
LAT/LON = Latitude and Longitude in degrees and hundredths
   PRCP = Total reported rainfall (inches) and water
          equivalent of snowfall for Jan-Feb 99

56 LAMO3 VALSETZ POLK OR 3589 44.92N 123.57W 69.48
55 WYDW1 GRISDALE GRAYS HARBOR WA 810 47.39N 123.60W 57.46
50 LEEO3 LEES CAMP TILLAMOOK OR 655 45.60N 123.52W 56.40
57 GDRO3 GRAND RONDE POLK OR 395 45.05N 123.62W 42.90
57 SKOW1 HOODSPORT   WA 762 47.52N 123.33W 42.02
52 FRAW1 FRANCES PACIFIC WA 231 46.55N 123.50W 41.50
58 UIL QUILLAYUTE CLALLAM WA 179 47.93N 124.56W 40.65
49 MPLO3 MAPLETON LANE OR 41 44.07N 123.88W 38.20
58 GOFW1 DARRINGTON   WA 3400 48.25N 121.53W 37.74
58 FLCO3 FALLS CITY POLK OR 420 44.85N 123.43W 37.40
56 OHAW1 PACKWOOD LEWIS WA 1950 46.73N 121.57W 35.70
59 SHN SHELTON   WA   47.23N 123.15W 34.70
54 JELO3 JEWELL CLATSOP OR 570 45.93N 123.53W 34.60
56 SQPW1 HYAK KING WA 3020 47.42N 121.42W 33.40
47 ABEW1 ABERDEEN GRAYS HARBOR WA 435 47.27N 123.70W 32.70
56 VERW1 VERLOT SNOHOMISH WA 975 48.10N 121.78W 31.70
56 SKYW1 SKYKOMISH KING WA 1030 47.70N 121.37W 31.60
56 MNFO3 MARION FORKS LINN OR 2475 44.60N 121.95W 30.56
58 SMIO3 SUMMIT BENTON OR 746 44.63N 123.58W 30.30
58 HQM HOQUIAM GRAYS HARBOR WA 12 46.97N 123.94W 29.98
51 ILHO3 AGNESS CURRY OR 348 42.63N 124.05W 29.90
57 UBKW1 CONCRETE WHATCOM WA 690 48.65N 121.68W 29.70
55 KRBO3 KERBY JOSEPHINE OR 1210 42.23N 123.67W 29.50
56 DIXO3 SCAPPOOSE WASHINGTON OR 1430 45.70N 122.93W 29.40
59 NISW1 ASHFORD   WA 1450 46.75N 122.08W 28.34
56 BONO3 BONNEVILLE MULTNOMAH OR 67 45.63N 121.95W 28.17
56 DARW1 DARRINGTON SNOHOMISH WA 550 48.25N 121.60W 27.90
54 SMP STAMPEDE PASS KITTITAS WA 3958 47.28N 121.33W 27.36
59 OLM OLYMPIA THURSTON WA 192 46.97N 122.90W 26.94
42 PRWO3 POWERS COOS OR 230 42.89N 124.07W 26.32
53 CGRO3 BLUE RIVER LANE OR 1236 44.13N 122.25W 26.20
57 SCMO3 SCOTTS MILLS CLACKAMAS OR 2315 44.95N 122.53W 25.90
40 TIKO3 TILLAMOOK TILLAMOOK OR 10 45.45N 123.87W 25.81
40 FRCO3 FLORENCE LANE OR 12 43.96N 124.11W 25.69
59 GARW1 NORTH BEND   WA 1448 47.42N 121.58W 25.04
56 RLGW1 LONGMIRE PIERCE WA 2762 46.75N 121.82W 24.90
47 AST ASTORIA CLATSOP OR 8 46.16N 123.88W 24.54
56 MARW1 MARBLEMOUNT SKAGIT WA 348 48.53N 121.45W 24.30
52 PWT BREMERTON   WA   47.49N 122.76W 23.96
58 HURW1 PORT ANGELES CLALLAM WA 5300 47.97N 123.63W 23.40
57 LBHW1 LONG BEACH PACIFIC WA 25 46.37N 124.03W 22.55
44 4BK BROOKINGS CURRY OR 46 42.03N 124.25W 21.73
44 SCOO3 GASTON WASHINGTON OR 157 45.48N 123.20W 21.54
59 CRLO3 CRATER LAKE KLAMATH OR 6475 42.90N 122.13W 21.37
42 JNW NEWPORT LINCOLN OR 122 44.63N 124.05W 21.32
55 BLBO3 COTTAGE GROVE LANE OR 970 43.60N 123.08W 21.00
48 TLYO3 THREE LYNX CLACKAMAS OR 1120 45.12N 122.07W 21.00
57 SQLW1 SNOQUALMIE FALLS KING WA 440 47.55N 121.85W 20.40
56 CENW1 CENTRALIA LEWIS WA 100 46.72N 122.98W 20.30
59 ELEW1 ORTING   WA 1640 46.90N 122.03W 20.28
53 COQO3 COQUILLE COOS OR 23 43.18N 124.20W 20.22
56 CINW1 CINEBAR LEWIS WA 1040 46.60N 122.48W 20.00
38 SSDO3 SEASIDE CLATSOP OR 10 45.98N 123.92W 19.72
54 COTO3 COTTAGE GROVE LANE OR 711 43.72N 123.05W 18.60
53 SRSO3 STEAMBOAT DOUGLAS OR 1200 43.35N 122.73W 18.10
56 TKFO3 TOKETEE FALLS DOUGLAS OR 2060 43.28N 122.45W 17.89
55 PRSO3 PROSPECT JACKSON OR 2482 42.73N 122.52W 17.86
41 GLBO3 GOLD BEACH CURRY OR 50 42.40N 124.42W 17.62
58 FFXW1 CARBONADO   WA 1213 47.03N 122.03W 17.55
58 GRMO3 GRESHAM MULTNOMAH OR 310 45.50N 122.43W 17.40
47 OTH NORTH BEND COOS OR 6 43.42N 124.25W 17.22
57 RDLO3 RIDDLE DOUGLAS OR 723 42.92N 123.43W 17.20
57 TIW TACOMA   WA   47.27N 122.58W 16.95
59 LWNW1 LEAVENWORTH CHELAN WA 2005 47.83N 120.80W 16.70
58 WLMO3 WILLIAMS JOSEPHINE OR 1450 42.23N 123.28W 16.60
57 MTAW1 TROUT LAKE KLICKITAT WA 1960 46.00N 121.54W 16.20
51 TDO TOLEDO LEWIS WA 325 46.48N 122.81W 15.81
55 GPSO3 GRANTS PASS JOSEPHINE OR 925 42.43N 123.35W 15.68
56 GLAW1 GLACIER WHATCOM WA 935 48.88N 121.95W 15.60
40 DRNO3 DRAIN DOUGLAS OR 292 43.67N 123.32W 15.14
57 TCM TACOMA   WA   47.25N 122.50W 15.08
34 GDNO3 GARDINER DOUGLAS OR 30 43.75N 124.12W 15.00

For further information, contact:

Tom Ross
NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
151 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801-5001
phone:828-271-4994 ext 181
fax: 828-271-4800

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