National Overview - February 2008


NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.

Maps and Graphics:


February Most Recent 3 Months Most Recent 6 Months
Most Recent 12 Months Year-to-Date US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold
Annual Summary for 2007

PLEASE NOTE: All temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  As final data become available, the most up-to-date statistics and graphics will be available on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the U.S. Climate at a Glance Web site.

For graphics covering periods other than those mentioned above or for tables of national, regional, and statewide data from 1895—present, for February, last 3 months or other periods, please go to the Climate at a Glance page.

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National Overview:


February Temperature Highlights
  • For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for February was 34.9°F (1.6°C), which was 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century mean and ranked as the 52nd warmest February on record, based on preliminary data.
  • On the Regional level, much of the U.S. experienced near normal temperatures during February. The East North Central region had below average temperatures and the Southeast experienced above average temperatures.
  • Using the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI - an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), the nation's residential energy demand during February was approximately 1% below average consumption and ranked as the 50th lowest in 114 years.
February Precipitation Highlights
  • This was the 31st wettest February in the 1895—2008 record. An average of 2.3 inches (58 mm) fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.3 inches (6 mm) above average.
  • February was the wettest on record for the Northeast U.S. and the thirteenth wettest for the Central U.S. Only the Northwest experienced below-average precipitation during the month.
  • Several cities throughout the Northeast also set new records. Portland, Maine received 11.75 inches (29.8 cm) of precipitation, which is more than three inches greater than the previous record set in 1900. Allentown, PA received 7.6 inches (19.2 cm), which surpassed the previous 1971 record by more than two inches. Blue Hill, MA also broke its previous 1969 precipitation record by just over one inch (2.5 cm) with 10.4 inches (26.3 cm) during February.
Highlights from Winter (December—February)
  • Preliminary data indicate that this was the 54th coolest winter on record for the contiguous United States. The average temperature was 33.2°F (0.6°C), which was 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century mean.
  • Precipitation for much of the contiguous United States over the past three months was above normal. This was the 18th wettest December—February in the 1895—2008 record. An average of 7.2 inches (18.3 cm) fell across the contiguous U.S., which is 0.7 inches (1.9 cm) above average.
  • On the regional level, the Southwest, East North Central, Central and Northeast regions all received much above normal precipitation during the winter. New York experienced its wettest winter on record, and the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Vermont experienced their second-wettest winter on record. Only the South received below normal levels of precipitation, mostly due to a dry winter in Texas.
  • Two cities in the Northeast set new snowfall records for the climatological winter. Concord, NH received 100.5 inches (255 cm), which is 22.5 inches (57 cm) above the previous record set during the winter of 1886-87. Burlington, VT received 103.2 inches (262 cm) of snowfall, which is 6.3 inches (16 cm) above the previous record set during the winter of 1970-71.
  • During the winter of 2007-2008, much of the West received above average rain and snow, and at the end of February, seasonal precipitation for the 2008 water year that began on October 1, 2007 was well above average over much of the West.
  • Mountain snowpack exceeded 150% of average in large parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Oregon at the end of February. If these conditions continue, spring runoff from the above average snowpack in the West is expected to be beneficial in drought-stricken areas.
  • The slightly above average temperatures during the winter in the heavily populated Northeast and South helped reduce residential energy needs for the nation. Using REDTI, the residential energy demand was approximately 2% lower than what would have occurred under average climate conditions for the season and ranked as the 42nd lowest in 113 years.
Other Items of Note
  • A deadly tornado outbreak on February 5, 2008 has been blamed for at least 57 deaths in the southeastern U.S., many in Tennessee. This was the highest number of fatalities in a single tornado outbreak since the Ohio-Pennsylvania outbreak of May 31, 1985 killed 76. The total of 59 tornado fatalities reported in February is the highest number for the month since 134 people lost their lives in 1971. One of the tornadoes in Arkansas, responsible for 12 fatalities, set a new state record path length of 123 miles from Yell to Sharp Counties. The previous record from February 20, 1951 was 112 miles.
  • In January and February, the Storm Prediction Center received 368 preliminary tornado reports, over six times the 2005-2007 average and over four times the 1998-2007 average.
  • Strong La Niña conditions were present in the tropical Pacific Ocean at the end of February, according to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). Equatorial sea-surface temperatures remained below average from west of the Date Line eastward to 100°W. According to the CPC, nearly all of the dynamical and statistical models are forecasting a continuation of La Niña conditions through spring 2008. A moderate to strong La Niña may result in warmer than normal conditions in much of the Southeastern quadrant of the U.S. and cooler than normal conditions along the north-central and western states during the next few months. The La Niña may also be coincident with drier than normal conditions in the south-central third of the U.S. and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest during the next three months. For additional information on ENSO conditions, please visit the NCDC ENSO Monitoring page and the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory.
Alaska:
  • Alaska had its 45th coolest February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 0.75°F (0.42°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaskan temperatures in winter (December—February) were near the 1971-2000 average. The average statewide temperature was 0.06°F (0.03°C) above the 1971—2000 average, making it the 42nd warmest December—February on record.

  • Alaska had its 21st warmest September—February on record, with an average temperature 1.1°F (0.6°C) above the 1971—2000 average.

For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Monthly and Seasonal Highlights section below and visit the February Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month of February, please visit NCDC's Extremes page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.

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Regional Highlights:

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.

Northeast | Midwest | Southeast | High Plains | Southern | Western

Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures averaged 0.8°F (0.4°C) above normal in the Northeast states. This was 7.7°F (4.3°C) warmer than February 2007, but 0.9°F (0.5°C) cooler than February 2006. Pennsylvania and Maryland were the most anonymously cool states, with temperature departures of 0.3 and 0.1°F (-0.3 and 0.1°C), respectively. The most anomalously warm states in the Northeast were Delaware (3.4°F/1.9°C above normal) and New Jersey (2.5°F/1.4°C above normal).

  • An active weather pattern with a few heavy rain events put February's precipitation totals over the top, making this month the wettest February since records began in 1895. Four states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, also had their wettest February in 114 years. It was the second wettest in New York and Pennsylvania; the third wettest in New Hampshire, the 4th wettest in New Jersey, and the 9th wettest in Maine. Precipitation departures ranged from 113% of normal in Delaware to 289% of normal in Vermont. The departure for the Northeast as a whole was 199% of the 30-year mean. Despite the abundant precipitation this month, the southernmost counties on the eastern shore of Maryland and southern Delaware were still under moderate to severe drought conditions according to the February 26, 2008 U.S. Drought Monitor.

  • Much of the precipitation fell as snow or a rain-snow mix in northern New England. Snow depth at the end of the month in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont ranged from 20 to 75 inches (20-190 cm). A storm that affected the Northeast from the 13th to the 14th brought moderate amounts of rain, freezing rain and/or snow to most of the region. However, parts of southwestern Maine and east-central New Hampshire received 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of new snowfall followed by 1.0 to 2.0 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) of rain. The combination of the snow and rain resulted in an unusually heavy snow load on area buildings, causing roof leaks and collapses. Snow totals during the winter were above normal in northern New England, where 2 stations (Concord NH and Burlington VT) posted their all-time record high climatological winter (December—February) snow totals. Frequent snow and ice storms throughout this winter put a strain on the supply of road salt, especially in small towns that don't have the resources to stockpile large quantities of the product. By mid-February, the Vermont Agency of Transportation had shared at least 4000 tons (3629 metric tons) of salt with 95 towns and villages in Chittenden, Addison and Franklin Counties. Other towns in the region scrambled to find supplies, often at inflated prices, dipping into budgets already strained by this winters weather.
For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • February was a cold month across most of the Midwest. Average daily temperatures ranged from 8°F to 9°F (4.4°C to 5.0°C) below normal in central and eastern Iowa and in northwestern Minnesota, to 1°F (0.6°C) above normal in extreme southeastern Kentucky. The colder than normal weather in the northern Midwest was aided by persistent snow cover as storm after storm brought snow and ice to the region. Temperatures the first week of the month were above normal across the region, ranging from 0-3°F (0-1.7°C) above normal from western Minnesota south through western Kansas while temperatures were 10-12°F (5.6-6.7°C) above normal in the Ohio Valley. After the first week of February, a series of Arctic outbreaks kept temperatures generally below normal north of the Ohio River. The northern half of the Midwest experienced some of the coldest weather of the season on February 20 when temperatures plunged to -33°F (-36°C) in northwestern Minnesota, and lows between -10°F (-23°C) and -25°F (-32°C) occurred across the remainder of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

  • Precipitation was much above normal for much of the Midwest in February, typically the driest month of the year. Precipitation was 200 percent of normal or more in a wide band extending from southwestern Missouri through Lower Michigan. Snowfall was much above normal across a significant portion of the Midwest north of the Ohio River. Snowfall was four to six times normal amounts from eastern Iowa to eastern Wisconsin. By the end of February, seasonal snowfall totals at many locations from northern Illinois through southern Wisconsin were already more than twice the norm and in the top ten snowiest seasons on record. At the end of February, Madison, WI had accumulated 89.8 inches (228.1 cm) of snow, smashing the previous seasonal snowfall record of 76.1 inches (193.3 cm) of snow in the winter of 1978-1979. Drier than normal conditions occurred in the northwestern quarter of the region, including most of Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, where precipitation was 25-75% of normal. Southeastern Kentucky also received near to slightly below normal precipitation.

  • The Midwest experienced all manner of severe weather during the month of February, from severe thunderstorms to heavy snow. An unusual event the first week of the month was a very dense fog with horizontal visibilities of less than 1/4 mile (0.4 km) over a wide area of the central Midwest, extending from eastern Iowa through central and northern Illinois to northern Indiana and southern Michigan. The dense fog developed overnight February 3-4 and conditions deteriorated during the day. This event was unusual in that the very dense fog occurred during the afternoon and early evening hours and persisted in many locations for more than 6 hours. The fog brought air travel to a standstill and driving conditions were extremely hazardous. There were numerous traffic accidents throughout the Midwest as a result of the fog, a few with fatalities. A severe weather outbreak and widespread flooding also affected large portions of the Midwest during the first week of the month.
For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest during February, see the weekly summaries in the MRCC Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • February in the southeast opened with warm conditions, with high temperature records for the date being set over much of the region on the 5th and 6th. There was another warm period around the 15th and 16th of the month, but at the end of February the entire region north of peninsular Florida had temperatures below freezing.

  • It was a windy and stormy month with a series of active storms moving through the southern part of the region. Florida had three days with tornadoes, while Alabama and Georgia had two each and North Carolina had one. Although somewhat early in the year for tornado outbreaks, they are not completely unknown, especially with the dry, hot conditions prevailing during the month. Although there were no tornadoes in Virginia, there were several outbreaks of severe weather associated with strong winds, including one report of 68 mph (109 km/hr) winds in Roanoke on the 10th. With the very dry conditions prevailing in the area, these winds facilitated the development and spread of wildfires, which occurred in several northern parts of the region. At least one 5-car pileup, in northeast North Carolina, was attributed to wind-driven smoke from a wildfire.

  • The storms brought some precipitation, including snow in most of the mountain areas. However, amounts were variable, with some areas in the south of the region having their sixth wettest February on record, while farther north some areas had less than half the normal amount for the month. As a result, although there was some respite from the on-going drought, particularly in coastal South Carolina and southern Georgia and Alabama, conditions did not greatly change in the north. Both central North Carolina and northern Georgia and Alabama continued to be in exceptional drought, with extreme drought in the intervening areas. Southern Florida also missed the storms, and parts remain in exceptional drought. Compared to the storminess of the main part of the region, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands had temperatures hovering around the average for the month, while precipitation was just below normal.
For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
  • Colder than normal temperatures were prevalent in portions of eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and northeastern Kansas during February. The average February temperature departures from the 1971-2000 normals ranged from -4°F (-2°C) to -10°F (-6°C) for much of this area. These depressions were aided by snow cover, which was present for much of February throughout this entire region. The deepest snow depths were reported in portions of eastern North Dakota and northeast Kansas.

  • The Nebraska Panhandle, areas west of Kearney (NE), western Kansas and the plains of Colorado and Wyoming experienced close to normal temperatures during February. Some areas on the lee side of the Rockies in Colorado and Wyoming had temperatures between 2-4°F (1-2°C) above normal during the month.

  • Early in February, several low pressure systems brought snow and moisture to the eastern High Plains, with the most precipitation falling in southeastern Kansas. Total liquid precipitation amounts in southeast Kansas for February 2008 ranged from 2.5 inches (6 cm) to 4 inches (9.5 cm), which was greater than 200% of the 1971-2000 liquid precipitation average in February for the region. The Rockies in southwest Colorado and portions of southwest Wyoming also benefitted from above normal precipitation amounts during February.
For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures in the Southern Region in February were slightly above normal in Oklahoma and in northern and central Arkansas. Elsewhere, temperatures were relatively normal, except in southern Texas and Southern Louisiana. In the southern tip of Texas, temperatures averaged 6-8°F (3-4°C) above normal. Along the Texas coast and slightly inland, temperatures ranged from 4-6°F (2-3°C) above normal. Similar values were also observed in southern Louisiana.

  • Precipitation in the Southern region was relatively variable in February. In southwestern and central Texas, values were generally below normal and ranged from less than 2% of normal to 50% of normal. In central Oklahoma, precipitation was above normal with values ranging from 150% to over 400% of normal. In Louisiana, precipitation was above normal in the north, but below normal in the south. Conditions were driest in the south central parishes, with values ranging from 29% of normal in Baton Rouge, to 53% of normal in New Orleans. Alexandria on the other hand received almost twice its monthly total, while Monroe and Shreveport reported 130% and 118% of normal, respectively. In Mississippi, precipitation was above normal in the central counties, and below normal in the northern and southern quarters of the state. For example, Meridian reported over 200% of normal precipitation for the month, whereas McComb AP received only approximately half the monthly average. Conditions were relatively dry in Tennessee, with most stations reporting below normal precipitation. Conversely, most stations in Arkansas received slightly above normal precipitation for the month. The only exception to this was in eastern Arkansas, were values were similar to that which was reported in northern Mississippi and western Tennessee (approximately 70-90% of normal).

  • On February 5, a storm system pushed through the southern United States, spawning severe winds, hail and tornadoes that resulted in over 50 fatalities. The storm system resulted from a collision of a deep trough that moved in from the west, and warm southerly winds that were rich in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. This combination often results in very unstable conditions, and is ideal for the production of severe thunderstorms. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center reported 337 storm reports that day, making this one of the most significant severe weather dates in recent memory. Of the 337 storm reports, 160 were wind reports, 109 were hail occurrences and 68 were preliminary reports of tornadoes. Severe weather was observed in 13 separate states, mostly concentrated in a line from northeastern Texas to southern Indiana and southern Ohio. A majority of the wind events occurred in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Other wind reports were scattered among the remaining 10 affected states. Tornadoes were highly concentrated in Arkansas and Tennessee, however, some were reported in Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky. Hail events were scattered fairly evenly among the affected states.
For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures throughout the west were very near normal for the entire region, generally within 2 to 4°F (1 to 2°C) of normal. Exceptions included northwest Montana, where temperatures were up to 5°F (3°C) above normal, and the Uintah Valley of northeast Utah, where temperatures were near 7°F (4° C) below normal.

  • Precipitation was above normal in parts of the Great Basin and most of the Four Corners region, while the extreme southwest, California, the northwest and most of Idaho and Montana were below normal. However, almost all mountain snow pack levels in the west were still above normal by March 1st, ranging from 90% of normal in parts of Wyoming and Montana to 170% of normal in the northwest and southern Rockies. Heavy rains caused flooding in the southeast portion of the island of Hawaii during the first five days of February. Total rainfall in Hilo was 29.72 inches (755 mm) over a 5-day span from the 1st to the 6th, including 10.82 inches (275 mm) on the 2nd alone. One location on the Big Island reported nearly 41 inches (1041 mm) of rain during those five days.

  • A moderate La Niña (cooler than usual ocean water on the equator between Peru and the Date Line) has been under way for most of this winter. Typically, this condition is associated with dry winters in the far Southwest and wet winters in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. This normally quite reliable pattern has been replaced this winter by a more even spatial distribution of precipitation in many parts of the West. The pattern in February continues in that vein, with the largest positive departures in the Colorado River Plateau, and an unusually heavy snowpack in the San Juan Mountains. As of early February, summer snowmelt inflow to Lake Powell was projected to be nearly 120% of average, which would be the highest value seen in the last decade. This assumes that a warm or dry March does not cause a premature loss of snow to the atmosphere or to dry soils.
For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Alaska: (Information provided by Audrey Rubel at NOAA NWS Alaska Region Headquarters.)
  • As expected, temperatures in Alaska were rather chilly in February. Early in the month, portions of the interior of Alaska reported overnight temperatures in the -50s (°F) and -60s (°F) and as low as -72°F (-58°C) in Tok, Alaska on February 7, 2008. The last time an official temperature below -70°F (-57°C) was recorded in the Alaska interior was on January 1, 2000, when a low temperature of -72°F (-58°C) was reported at Chicken, Alaska. The all-time official record low for Alaska is -80°F (-62°C) as Prospect Creek on January 23, 1971. At Fairbanks International Airport, the low temperatures from February 3-9 were below -40°F (-40°C), the longest streak of below -40°F/C temperatures at Fairbanks since January 2000. During the winter, the temperature climbed above freezing at Fairbanks on only two days (January 22 and February 14), which is three days below the 30-year average.

  • On the warmer side, Eielson Air Force Base set a new daily record high temperature of 38°F (3°C) on Valentine's Day. The previous record high of 37°F (3°C) was set in 1993. The same station set a new record high on February 18 of 42°F (6°C). The same day, Delta Junction set a new record high of 43°F (6°C). New daily temperature records were set at Bettles, Kotzebue, and Fairbanks on February 19 at 37°F (3°C), 32°F (0°C), and 41°F (5°C), respectively. Big Delta and Galena also set new daily high temperature records of 41°F (5°C) and 37°F (3°C), respectively, on February 21.

  • Snowpack in Alaska was below normal in much of the eastern and northeastern parts of the state, and well above normal in the far southeast and northwest. Fairbanks received 2.6 inches of snow on Sunday, February 24, setting a new daily record snowfall amount.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of February. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for February, the last 3 months or other periods, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.

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PLEASE NOTE: All of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  Graphics based on final data are provided on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for February 2008, published online March 2008, retrieved on October 21, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2008/2.