National Overview - February 2009


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 2008

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:


Temperature Highlights
  • For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for February was 36.9°F (2.7°C), which is 2.3°F (1.3°C) above the 20th century mean and ranked as the 27th warmest February on record, based on preliminary data.
  • At the regional level, much of the U.S. experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures during February. The South region had much above average temperatures while every other region except the Southeast, Northwest, and West 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 4.1% below average consumption and ranked as the 29th lowest in 115 years.
  • In relation to the above normal winter temperatures, the winter 2009 REDTI was the 46th highest value in 114 years. The current model indicates the national residential energy consumption was 0.4% above average.
Precipitation Highlights
  • This was the 8th driest February in the 1895—2009 record. An average of 1.4 inches (36.6 mm) of precipitation fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.6 inch (15.7 mm) below average.
  • Winter precipitation was much below normal as the national average was 5.14 inches (130.6 mm), which ranks as the fifth driest winter on record. Statewide ranks show that Texas recorded its driest winter period ever which contributed to the South region experiencing their second driest winter since records began in 1895. Also regionally, the Southeast recorded its tenth driest period.
  • The nation experienced its driest year-to-date (January-February) period ever with a national average that was 1.55 inches (39.4 mm) below normal. The last year the U.S. experienced a record dry start to the year was in 1979.
Other Items of Note
  • Equatorial sea surface temperatures remained below average in the tropical Pacific Ocean through the end of February. Equatorial sea-surface temperatures remained below average from the Date Line eastward to the South American coast and remained above average in the western Pacific. According to the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions are likely to continue into the Northern Hemisphere into the spring of 2009. A developing La Niña may result in wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and drier than normal conditions in the southwestern and southeastern U.S., as well as above average temperatures in the south-central and southwestern U.S. in 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 38th warmest February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 2.0°F (1.1°C) above the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 43rd warmest December—February on record, with a temperature 0.05°F (0.03°C) above the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 50th coolest January—February on record, with a temperature 0.4°F (0.2°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional 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)
  • February's temperatures averaged above normal, but were not warm enough to satisfy those who needed a break after a bitter cold January. The Northeast average of 27.2°F (-2.7°C), was 1.6°F (0.9°C) above the 30-year normal. This was warmer than the previous two Februarys, but exactly the same average as 2006. The range of departures went from 0.5°F (0.3°C) above normal in West Virginia to 2.6°F (1.4°C) above normal in Delaware. Of the handful of maximum temperature records set this month, one worth noting occurred in Philadelphia. A 122 year old record was broken when the high on the 11th reached 69°F (20°C). The previous record of 66°F (18.9°C) was set in 1887.

  • The Northeast received only 58% of its normal monthly precipitation amount, making February 2009 the 7th driest since 1895. Delaware and New Jersey saw their driest February in 115 years. Delaware's total of 0.30 inches (1.27 cm) was only 9% of normal. States that fell within the 10 driest since 1895 were Connecticut (6th), Maryland (6th), New York (8th), and Pennsylvania (10th). None of the states in the region received above normal precipitation; however, the three northernmost states posted totals that approached normal: New Hampshire, 76%, Maine, 86% and Vermont, 97%. The Northeast's average precipitation total was 1.57 inches (3.99 cm). Unlike last month, snow totals were generally near or below normal. Only Maine ended up with more than the average February snowfall, thanks in part to storms from the 20th to 24th that blanketed much of the state with 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm) of new snow.

  • Once again this month, portions of Pocohontas, Monroe and Mercer Counties along the West Virginia-Virginia border were in moderate drought when the US Drought Monitor was updated on March 3, 2009. The same report indicated abnormally dry conditions in most of Delaware, southern, central and eastern Maryland and eastern West Virginia along the Virginia border. While March is traditionally known as the windiest month, February 2009 did it's best to compete with that title. Gusty conditions occurred on several days, but the strongest, most damaging winds (up to 60 mph, 27 m/s) occurred on the 11th and 12th as a strong cold front swept through the region. Downed trees and power lines n New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia cut off power to approximately 600,000 residents and businesses in those states. At least 4 people died as a direct result of the high winds.
For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • The Midwest was generally cold in the north and warm in the south during February. Temperatures were 4°F (2.2°C) to 5°F (2.8°C) below normal in northwestern Minnesota, and up to 4°F (2.2°C) above normal across southwestern Missouri. In much of the central Midwest, temperatures were near normal. In general, during the first two weeks of February temperatures were well above normal and much below normal the last two weeks of the month. Record highs near 70°F (21°C) were set in Iowa, Missouri, and western Illinois the first week of February. At the end of the month, record lows to -28°F (-33°C) were recorded from Minnesota to Michigan.

  • Precipitation was at or above normal in Minnesota and the Michigan U. P., and from southwestern Missouri northeastward through Michigan. In far northwestern Minnesota and from northeastern Illinois through central Lower Michigan precipitation reached 200 percent of normal for the month. Snowfall was normal to well above normal across much of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan as well as the central Ozarks in southern Missouri. At the end of the month, snow cover was normal to above except in portions of Iowa, southern Wisconsin and southern Lower Michigan. Snow cover was well above normal in western Minnesota, and the heavy snow this winter combined with a wetter than normal fall has led to a high probability of major flooding along the Red River this spring as the snow melts. At the end of the month the deepest snow cover existed across the northern half of Minnesota eastward into northern Lower Michigan. Snow depths generally ranged from 10 to 20 inches (20 to 50 cm), but were as much as 36 to 52 inches (90 to 130 cm) over the eastern Michigan Upper Peninsula.

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)
  • Mean temperatures for February 2009 were relatively close to normal (within 3°F) across most of the region. Temperatures were more than 3°F below normal over southern GA and portions of FL. Temperatures were slightly above normal across central portions of SC, NC and much of VA. In Puerto Rico, temperatures were slightly below normal. Similar to January, there was much variability in temperatures during the month. Strong cold fronts swept across the region on the 4th and 22nd ushering in modified Arctic air masses. There were 145 daily record low temperatures that were tied or broken with nearly all of them occurring on the first and third weeks of the month. The temperature at Tallahassee, FL dropped to 14°F (-10°C) on the 5th, which was the lowest temperature recorded in the area in over 19 years. This event marked the third time this winter that freezing temperatures covered much of FL. The frigid conditions had some impact on agriculture, but nothing overly damaging. A persistent period of exceptional warmth was observed between the 7th and the 13th of the month over most of the region. Several cities in SC and GA came close to breaking records for consecutive days of 70°F (21°C) or greater maximums. In particular, Columbia, Florence, and Charleston, SC as well Augusta GA reported 7 consecutive days of 70°F (21°C) or greater maximums.

  • February was an exceptionally dry month as monthly precipitation totals were less than 50% of normal across most of the region. Precipitation was less than 25% of normal across portions of FL, southern AL, and northern VA. Washington, DC recorded only 0.35 inches (9 mm) of precipitation for the month, making it the driest February in a record extending back to 1872. Also, much of southern FL received less than 0.25 inches (6 mm) of precipitation for the month. Most of Puerto Rico experienced below normal precipitation totals for the month, although Arecibo in the western interior of the island recorded nearly 8.00 inches (203 mm), more than 4 inches above average. Above normal precipitation totals were largely restricted to small portions of north central AL, GA and central SC. Tuscaloosa, AL reported monthly precipitation total of 7.12 inches (181 mm), which was 2.05 inches (52 mm) above normal. Much of this precipitation was recorded on the 27th and 28th of the month; Holt, AL and Peachtree City, GA recorded 5.82 inches (148 mm) and 2.70 inches (69 mm)on these two days, respectively. It should be noted that this event continued into the first day of March, which added considerably to the event precipitation totals over portions of GA and the Carolinas. This rainfall provided some short term relief from the drought persisting across portions of the area. For the 2nd straight month, snowfall totals were exceptionally low across the region. Only 0.1 inch (9 mm) and 0.4 inch (10 mm) of snow were reported during the month at Washington, DC and Roanoke, VA, respectively. A fast moving southeastward moving disturbance dropped a narrow band of snow across portions of NC on the 2nd of the month. Dunn and Fountain, which are both on the coastal plain of NC, recorded 3 inches (76 mm) of snow.

  • Given the persistence of relatively dry weather, drought conditions expanded across the region. Extreme drought conditions continued across northwestern SC and extreme NE GA and regions of severe drought, which were limited to west central FL in January, expanded to include portions of western NC as well as south FL. The region of moderate drought expanded considerably to include much of western VA, western NC and SC as well as large portions of GA and FL. The extreme winter dryness across South FL has left the vegetation extremely vulnerable to wildfire.

  • Two bouts of severe thunderstorms were observed during the month. On the 18th of the month, a widespread outbreak of severe thunderstorms produced tornadoes, large hail, and strong winds across GA. At least one death and 22 injuries were reported. A hailstone with an estimated diameter of 4.25 inches was reported in Coweta Co. GA, making it the largest hailstone officially reported in GA during the month of February. On the 28th of the month, a strong upper-level disturbance spawned a squall line that produced straight-line wind damage in the western FL panhandle. Additionally, golf ball-sized hail was reported in Holmes County, FL. Behind this system, strong winds created 10-14? swells in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that capsized a fishing boat resulting in the loss of three lives.
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)
  • The warm temperatures of January continued into February as the majority of the High Plains region had average monthly temperatures ranging from 2°F to 6°F (1.1°C to 3.3°C) above normal. Many stations in Colorado recorded average monthly temperatures which ranked within the top ten warmest February's. Kim 10 SSE, CO had an average temperature of 43°F (6.1°C) which was the warmest February on record. This crushed the old record of 40.1°F (4.5°C) recorded in February 2000. North Dakota and northern South Dakota were the cool areas in the region, with temperature departures ranging from 2°F to 10°F (1.1°C to 5.5°C) below normal. Dickinson, ND had an average temperature of 13.4°F (-10.3°C) which was the 9th coldest February on record.

  • Substantial precipitation fell across the Dakotas and west-central Nebraska as many locations received over 200% of normal precipitation. Monthly liquid equivalent precipitation records were broken in two locations in South Dakota. Cedar Butte 1 NE received 1.60 inches (4.06 cm) of liquid equivalent precipitation which was 305% of normal. The previous record of 1.34 inches was set back in 1953. Mission received 1.47 inches (3.73 cm) of liquid equivalent precipitation which was 320% of normal and broke the previous record of 1.46 inches (3.71 cm) set back in 1977.

  • Moderate drought conditions have improved in southwestern North Dakota. However, moderate drought conditions have developed in southeastern Kansas and drought conditions persist across southwestern Wyoming, and southeastern Colorado. Some categorical improvement is expected in southwestern Wyoming through May 2009, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released February 19. Persisting drought conditions are expected in the southeast corner of Colorado.

  • A monthly minimum pressure record was set on February 10th at Sioux Falls, SD. An intense low pressure center moved near the area and the pressure fell to 28.96 inches (98059 Pa). The previous lowest pressure ever recorded at Sioux Falls in February was 29.03 inches (98295 Pa) in 1977.
For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • In Eastern Tennessee, as well as in southern and eastern Mississippi, February average temperatures remained near normal for the month. Elsewhere within the Southern Region, temperatures were above normal. For example, Louisiana and most of Arkansas experienced average temperatures that were 2-6° F (1-3 ° C) above monthly expected values. In Northwestern Arkansas, temperatures were slightly warmer, ranging from 6-8° F (3-4 ° C) above the mean. Similar values were observed in central Oklahoma and central Texas. The majority of these two states, however; observed average temperatures that were 4-6° F (2-3 ° C) above normal.

  • For the second consecutive month, the Southern Region experienced another dry month. Some areas did report near to above average precipitation values, including: east-central Mississippi, northeastern Oklahoma and northeastern Arkansas. The highest precipitation anomalies for the month occurred in east central Mississippi, with values ranging from 150 to 200% of normal. The driest areas of the Southern Region includes: southern Texas, the western Texas panhandle, northern Louisiana and Southern Arkansas and parts of central Oklahoma. For these regions, total precipitation averaged below 50% of normal.

  • The persistent dry pattern in southern Texas has led to further expansion of drought conditions. Over the past month, more areas of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles have deteriorated to moderate drought. In addition, exceptional drought has been expanded to the central Texas coastline. There was also an eastern expansion of moderate drought in east central Texas. In Louisiana, dry conditions in the southern parishes have led to moderate drought. This is also the case at the Mississippi gulf coastline.

  • In the Southern Region, there were several severe weather events in the month of February. The 10th was a very active day. First and foremost, tornadoes caused considerable damage in the state of Oklahoma. A total of four tornadoes were reported. They occurred in: Edmond, Pawnee, Ringgold and Lone Grove. A total of eight people were killed and 14 people were seriously injured, all of which occurred in Lone Grove, OK. A total of 50 injuries were reported by transworldnews.com. They also noted that 29,000 Oklahoma residents were without power after the storms pushed through. According to Firstcoastnews.com, one tornado outside of Oklahoma City destroyed 6 homes. Several other homes were severely damaged. In addition to the tornadoes, golf ball-sized hail was reported in Anadarko, OK. On the same day, strong winds tore the roof off a barn in Placid, TX, while 60-80 mph (96-128 km/hr) was reported in Hamilton, TX. Also on the 10th, a 6 inch (15 cm) diameter flag pole in Bossier City was bent over by strong winds. On the 14th, golf ball-sized hail was reported in Batchelor, LA. At the same location, strong winds blew the roof off an old house near Bayou Latenache.
For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures were mostly below normal in California and the Pacific Northwest while the intermountain region was above normal. Portions of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico were 4-5° F (2-3° C) above normal while western Washington and Oregon were 2° F (1° C) below normal.

  • Conditions were dry throughout the West except for California where rainfall was mostly above normal (see below). Although Shasta Reservoir in northern California rose 35 feet from the beginning of the month to the end, lake level is still well below normal. The Intermountain West was extremely dry. Albuquerque, NM, has not recorded any measurable precipitation yet for 2009 while Denver has had only 0.17 inches (4.3mm) for the year so far (18% of normal). It was the first February in Denver back to 1949 where no measurable snow fell. In Lander, WY, it was only the second February on record dating back to 1948 with no measurable precipitation. Along the Washington coast, Quillayute had their second driest February in 43 years. Juneau, AK, however continued with their snowy winter as another 30 inches (76 cm) of snow fell giving them 146 inches (371 cm) for the year. Their annual average snowfall is 90 inches (229 cm). Mountain snowpack at the end of the month remained near or slightly above normal for the Southwest and Intermountain West, but the coastal states were between 70 and 80% of normal. California snowpack was still only 70-75% of normal even after a very wet month.

  • A parade of storms affected California beginning on the 5th and continued to the end of the month. Total rainfall amounts exceeded 20 inches (508 mm) in some locations and helped put a small dent in the serious drought conditions plaguing the state. The February rainfall in Redding of 8.94 inches (227 mm) totaled more than the previous 4 months combined.
For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

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 2009, published online March 2009, retrieved on October 22, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2009/feb.