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Department of Commerce Logo Climate of 2003 - February
National Temperatures

National Climatic Data Center, 14 March 2003

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National Temperature rank map
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Contents:
  • February Temperatures
  • Temperature Departures
  • Winter Temperatures (Dec-Feb)
  • 12-month Temperatures (Mar-Feb)
  • U.S. Precipitation

  • Click on links throughout the text of this report for more maps and graphs.
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    Top of Page February Temperatures

    National Temperature Time Series
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    The graph to the left shows monthly mean temperature averaged across the contiguous United States based on long-term data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). The value for 2003 is estimated from preliminary Climate Division data using the first difference approach. February 2003 ranked as the 39th coolest February in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 33.3 F (0.7 C) which was 1.2 F (0.7 C) below the long-term mean.

    Below average temperatures primarily spanned from Texas through the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast. Near normal conditions were present across much of the West, Great Plains and the Southeast. This is the first month since October 1997 where no state in the contiguous U.S. had above normal temperatures.

    On a divisional scale, above average temperatures were present across portions of the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest as well as central and southern Florida (see below right).

    The pattern of below average temperatures in the contiguous U.S. in February broadly corresponded with the mean 500mb height and anomalies chart. This shows that below normal 500mb heights extended from the Rocky Mountains, through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast.

    It was the warmest February on record since reliable statewide records began in 1918 for Alaska, with anomalies of 14.8F (8.2C) above normal relative to the period 1971-2000.

    mean 500mb height and anomalies

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    State Temperature Ranks
    Click here for animated image

    Regional Temperature Ranks for the
    Contiguous U.S., February 2003
    Region Rank
    Northeast 24th coldest / 86th warmest
    East North Central 40th coldest / 70th warmest
    Central 27th coldest / 83rd warmest
    Southeast 53rd coldest / 57th warmest
    West North Central 47th coldest / 63rd warmest
    South 31st coldest / 79th warmest
    Southwest 58th coldest / 52nd warmest
    Northwest 70th coldest / 40th warmest
    West 57th coldest / 53rd warmest

    Top of Page Temperature Departures

    The map below, based on over 500 airport stations, shows departures from the 1971-2000 normal temperatures for February 2003. In the lower 48 states, widespread negative departures (greater than 7.5F [4.2C]) were present across much of the Great Lakes and the Northeast. Record cold temperatures occurred in parts of these regions during mid and late February (as is illustrated in an animation of daily temperature anomalies).
    A new minimum daily temperature record was set in Massena, NY on February 16th when the low reached -28F (-33.3C) shattering the old record low of -13F (-25C) set in 1987. Also on the 16th, a new lowest maximum temperature record was set at Albany, NY where the temperature only reached 4F (-15.6C). Billings and Sheridan WY set low temperature records on February 24th. Billings reached -17F (-27.2C) and Sheridan's temperature fell to -20F (-28.9C). National Temperature Departures
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    See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for more records.
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    Top of Page December 2002 - February 2003

    National Temperature Time Series
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    The graph to the left shows mean temperature averaged across the contiguous United States based on long-term data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). The value for December 2002-February 2003 is estimated from preliminary Climate Division data using the first difference approach. December 2002-February 2003 was warmer than average and ranked as the 31st warmest such period in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature for December-February was 34.0 F (1.1 C) which was 1.0 F (0.6 C) above the long-term mean.



    Six states averaged much warmer than the long-term mean from December-February, twelve were warmer than the mean and twenty-seven states averaged colder than the long-term mean. Three of the contiguous U.S. states were near normal during the December-February period. Most of the above average temperatures in the western U.S. were the result of warmer than average December and January conditions. Winter (Dec-Feb) was also the second warmest since 1918 for Alaska with an anomaly of 10.1F (5.6C) above the 1971-2000 mean.

    State Temperature Ranks
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    Top of Page National Temperatures - March 2002-February 2003

    National Temperature Time Series
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    The graph to the left shows mean temperature averaged across the contiguous United States based on long-term data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). March 2002-February 2003 ranked as the 26th warmest such period in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 53.4F (11.9C) which was 0.6F (0.3C) above the long-term mean.

    The contiguous U.S. temperatures were predominantly near normal over the March 2002-February 2003 period with above to much above normal temperatures occuring primarily in the western U.S. Fifteen states were above to much above normal, six states were below normal and the remaining twenty-seven states were near normal during this period. Utah had its 3rd warmest such period for the last 12 months and Arizona and New Mexico were 4th warmest. State Temperature Ranks
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    Top of Page Questions?

    For all climate questions other than questions concerning this report, please contact the National Climatic Data Center's Climate Services Division:

    Climate Services Division
    NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
    151 Patton Avenue
    Asheville, NC 28801-5001
    fax: 828-271-4876
    phone: 828-271-4800
    email: questions@ncdc.noaa.gov

    For further information on the historical climate perspective presented in this report, contact:

    Jay Lawrimore
    NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
    151 Patton Avenue
    Asheville, NC 28801-5001
    fax: 828-271-4328
    email: Jay.Lawrimore@noaa.gov


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