National Climate Report - February 2010
Maps and Graphics
U.S. Percentage Areas
- Temperature Highlights - February
- The February 2010 temperature for the contiguous United States was 32.4 degrees F, which is 2.2 degrees below the long-term average.
- Cold air in the wake of several reinforcing Arctic air masses dominated much of the U.S. during February, creating temperatures that were much-below average in the Deep South and below average in the Plains and Mid-Atlantic States. Both the South and Southeast climate regions experienced their seventh coldest February on record. Meanwhile, upper-level patterns contributed to warmer-than-average temperatures in the Northwest and Northeast climate regions.
- Several southern states had an average temperature that ranked among their ten coldest for February. Florida had its fourth coldest, Louisiana its fifth coldest, and Alabama, Georgia, and Texas each had their sixth coldest. It was the seventh coldest February in Arkansas, while both Mississippi and South Carolina experienced their eighth coldest.
- Temperature Highlights - Winter
- For the winter season (December through February), nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the contiguous states experienced below normal temperatures. In contrast to this national trend, Maine experienced their third warmest such period.
- Precipitation Highlights - February
- February precipitation, averaged across the contiguous U.S., was slightly below the long-term average, at 1.90 inches.
- Regionally, an active weather pattern in the South, Southwest, and Northeast created an above-normal precipitation for the month. The Northwest, West North Central, East North Central, and Central climate regions each had below-normal February precipitation.
- On the state level, New Mexico experienced its seventh wettest February on record. Conversely, Idaho had its seventh driest, and Wyoming its eighth driest.
- Alabama, Arkansas, and Virginia each experienced record wetness during the past six months. Ten other states during the past six-months have experienced a much-above-normal precipitation average that ranked in the top ten.
- Precipitation Highlights - Winter
- The season-long wet spell was notable for the Southeast, as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina each had their eighth wettest winter. Precipitation was also much above normal for South Dakota (5th wettest), Virginia (6th), New Jersey and Maryland (9th). Wyoming and Idaho experienced their eighth and ninth driest winters, respectively.
- Other Items of Note
- Major snowstorms plagued the Atlantic states throughout the month, most notably back-to-back storms on Feb 4th-7th and Feb 9th-11th. Separately, these storms ranked as Category Three and Two storms on the Northeast Snow Impacts Scale (NESIS), respectively. However, if combined and treated as one storm, the resulting combined total would become only the third Category Five storm (the most extreme category) of the NESIS record. A third storm, also ranking as a category Three on the NESIS scale, occurred across southern New England on Feb 23rd-28th. February 2010 is the first month during the NESIS period of record (since 1956) to place three storms of Category Two or greater.
- Several Atlantic Coast cities experienced record breaking February snowfalls. Washington DC (Dulles AP) measured 46.1 inches, breaking a previous record of 34.9 inches also set in 2003. The 20.9 inches that fell on Central Park, NY on February 25th-26th, contributed to an all-time monthly record of 36.9 inches of snow. The previous record was set in March of 1896 (30.5 inches). Another all-time monthly record was set in Pittsburgh, PA where 48.7 inches was measured, besting the previous monthly record of 40.2 inches was set in January 1978. Other locations that broke February records: Beckley, WV (45.0 inches) and LaGuardia AP, NY (29.1 inches).
- Several seasonal snowfall records fell: Baltimore, MD 80.4 inches (62.5 1995-96), Washington, DC (Dulles) 73.2 inches (61.9 1995-96), Washington, DC (National) 56.0 inches (54.4 1898-1899), Wilmington, DE 72.7 inches (55.9 1995-96), Philadelphia, PA 78.7 inches (65.5 1995-96), Atlantic City, NJ 58.1 inches (46.9 1966-67).
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was 3.7 percent above average for February and 4.1 percent above average for the Winter (December-February).
- Drought coverage remained small throughout the month. On February 9th, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 6.6 percent of the United States was affected by drought. This represents the smallest drought footprint during the Drought Monitor era (since 2000).
Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:
Beginning with January 2010 processing, the Alaska temperature and precipitation report is comprised of several datasets at NCDC, integrating GHCN and COOP datasets. Prior to 2010, the Alaskan temperature timeseries was processed with just GHCN data.
had its 22nd warmest February since records began in 1918, with a
temperature 5.6°F (3.1°C) above the 1971–2000
had its 19th warmest December–February on record, with a
temperature 3.1°F (1.7°C) above the 1971–2000
- Alaska had its 30th warmest year–to–date on record, with a temperature 2.3°F (1.3°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
had its 17th driest February since records began in 1918, with
an anomaly that was 27 percent below the 1971–2000
had its 5th driest December–February on record, with
an anomaly that was 33 percent below the 1971–2000
had its 4th driest year–to–date on record, with
an anomaly that was 41 percent below the 1971–2000
For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.
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 Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures in February averaged near normal for the whole Northeast, but differences in temperature departures among the states was quite impressive. Overall, the region's average temperature was 26.3 degrees F (-3.2C), which was 0.8 degrees F (0.4C) above normal. This was 0.9 degrees F (0.5C) cooler than February 2009 and the coolest February since 2007. Individual state departures ranged from 6.2 degrees F (3.4C) below normal in West Virginia to 8.7 degrees F (4.8C) above normal in Maine. It was the 3rd warmest February in 116 years in Maine and the 5th warmest in New Hampshire. At the other end of the spectrum and the region, it was the 16th coolest February since 1895 in West Virginia, the 21st coolest in Maryland, and the 23rd coolest in Delaware.
- The range of departures among the state's average precipitation totals was not as great as the temperature departures, however, some states saw large regional differences. On average, the Northeast saw 3.03 inches (77mm) of precipitation, which was 113 percent of normal. New Hampshire and New Jersey were the wettest states in the region, with 159 percent and 154 percent of normal precipitation, respectively. Pennsylvania was the only state with below normal totals, (97 percent), but was one of the states where the average was a compilation of as much as 150 percent of normal precipitation in the east and southwest, and about 50 percent of normal precipitation in the central and north central portions of the state.
- A very active weather pattern set up in February, delivering record-breaking snowfall, gale force winds and heavy rain throughout the Northeast. The first storm hit the mid-Atlantic region on the 5th and 6th, delivering 12 to 40 inches (30.5 to 101.6 cm) of new snow to an area that shuts down during a 4-inch (10.2cm) snowfall. With advance notice of the storm, communities and businesses were able to plan accordingly. Businesses and schools closed early, airlines cancelled flights and even the federal government closed early in anticipation. As the storm raged (some areas were under blizzard warnings), transportation was totally disrupted in the area.
- Two days after the storm, as cleanup efforts continued, a new storm was forecasted for the same area. Snowfall from the February 10-11th snow event covered a larger area, but the heaviest amounts fell on the mid-Atlantic region that had been devastated by the earlier storm. Blizzard warnings were issued once again, this time for a much larger area than the previous storm.
- By the time the second storm cleared the East Coast, thousands of flights had been cancelled, Amtrak suspended service in the hardest hit areas and local rail and bus service was disrupted. Local transportation was so impaired that the federal government was shut down for 4 1/2 days; schools and businesses remained closed for most of the week. City and state government offices in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts were closed to all but essential personnel. Over 50,000 customers were without power, leading to frozen pipes and cold buildings until the power was restored. Several roof collapses were reported due to the weight of the accumulated snow.
- The last of February's powerful nor'easters hit the region on the 25th and 26th, after a smaller storm dumped up to a foot on Vermont, western Massachusetts, northwestern Vermont and eastern New York on the 24th. The nor'easter brought heavy wet snow to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont and northern Maine, sparing the mid-Atlantic region that was hit earlier in the month. The rain/snow line was far enough to the west that southern New England received 3 to 8 inches of rain from the slow moving storm system. Extremely high winds associated with the storm helped, along with the heavy snow and soggy ground, to down trees and power lines. Over 1 million customers in New England and New York lost power, some for up to a week as crews worked hard to restore service. The last storm of the month added to the records already established earlier in the month (see below).
- Monetary impacts are still being assessed, however, preliminary estimates from the risk assessor Eqecat indicate that insured losses from the first two storms could top $2 billion. New York City's estimate for snow removal is $1 million per inch; the city received 10 inches during the February 10th event and 20.9 inches during the February 25-26th event. The cost in loss of productivity when the US government closes is $100 million per day; it was shut down for 4 1/2 days. Preliminary estimates from the transportation industry include at least $55 million in lost passenger revenue for 2 major airlines and $18 million in snow removal costs and lost revenue at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
- For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
- February temperatures were below normal for most of the Midwest. Only northern Michigan and northeast Wisconsin had above normal temperatures, up to 3 degrees F (2 degrees C) warmer than normal. Southern Michigan, southern and western Wisconsin, and northeast Minnesota were near normal and the rest of the Midwest was below normal. The largest negative temperature departures were in Kentucky, Iowa, and northern Missouri with departures of 7 to 10 degrees F (4 to 6 degrees C) below normal. December-February temperature departures followed the same pattern with slightly smaller departures from normal. The seasonal temperature departures ranged from +2 degrees F (+1 degrees C) in upper Michigan to -7 degrees F (-4 degrees C) in southwest Iowa.
- February precipitation was generally drier than normal in the Midwest. Only parts of northwest Iowa and west central Minnesota received more 150 percent of normal precipitation. Western Kentucky, northern Lower Michigan, northwest Wisconsin, and northeast Minnesota received less than half their normal precipitation. Because nearly all February precipitation was in the form of snow, snowfall totals were well above normal for southern Minnesota, Iowa, eastern Kentucky, and Ohio. Statewide Iowa snowfall ranked as the sixth snowiest in 123 years. Monthly snowfall records were set in Kentucky (Jackson) and Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, Youngstown, Akron/Canton, and Mansfield). Seasonal precipitation was above normal in the northwest Midwest with some locations in Iowa and Minnesota receiving more than twice the normal amounts. Snowfall totals for the season ranged from well above to well below normal. Waterloo and Des Moines, Iowa recorded record winter seasonal snowfall. In northern Michigan, seasonal snowfall totals were as much as 30 to 50 inches (75 to 125 cm) below normal.
- Extensive snow packs in Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio have raised concerns for potential spring flooding on the Red River, Missouri River, Mississippi River, and Ohio River along with their tributaries.
- For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the MRCC Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Monthly average temperatures for February 2010 were much below normal across the region, especially portions of Georgia, southern Alabama, and Florida, where mean temperatures were more than 8 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) below normal. This marked the second straight month of below normal temperatures across the region. The two-month average temperature for January and February ranked among the top 5 coldest in many locations across Florida. Miami Beach, Florida set a record with its all-time coldest January-February in a record extending back to 1937. The cold temperatures were tied to a persistence of northwesterly to northerly flow and a storm track displaced unusually far to the south. While average temperatures were anomalously low, there were only 72 record daily minimum temperature recorded for the month. The coldest temperatures in the region occurred in northern Virginia where a very deep snowpack promoted more efficient nocturnal cooling. Louisa, Virginia, for example, recorded a minimum temperature of -3 degrees F (-19.4 degrees C) on the 7th of the month. What was most unusual in terms of temperature was the lack of daytime warmth across the region; in fact there were no daily record maximum temperatures set across the entire region during the month. Temperatures at Raleigh-Durham, NC reached 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) or higher only once during the month tying the all-time record with observations extending back to 1944. Monthly mean temperatures were above normal across Puerto Rico for the month. San Juan Puerto Rico registered a record daily maximum of 93 degrees F (33.9 degrees C) on the 25th of the month.
- Precipitation totals for February 2010 were relatively close to normal across most of the region. Precipitation totals were less than 75 percent of normal across much of Georgia as well as portions of Alabama, Florida, central South Carolina, and small portions of western North Carolina and Virginia. Tapoco, North Carolina, located in a rain-shadowed valley west of the Great Smoky Mountains, recorded 0.23 inches (6 mm) of precipitation, which was only 4 percent of normal. Precipitation totals were more than 150 percent of normal across portions of South Florida and extreme northern Virginia. Key West, Florida and Mount Weather, Virginia recorded 4.63 inches and 6.19 inches (118 and 157 mm) of precipitation for the month, respectively, which was more than 300 percent and 250 percent of normal. Much of the heavy precipitation in northern Virginia fell in the form of snow. Monthly precipitation totals were below normal across Puerto Rico, with exception to portions of the northern coast. Mayaquez, Puerto Rico recorded only 0.30 inches (8 mm) of precipitation for the month, which was 1.71 inches (43 mm) below normal.
- Much of the region, including portions of northern Florida, received snowfall during the month as five separate cyclonic systems tracked across the region. Two heavy snow events were observed across northern Virginia during the first 10 days of the month. Dulles Airport, immediately west of Washington, DC, recorded 32 inches (813 mm) of snow on the 5th-6th of the month and another 9.3 inches (236 mm) on the 9th-10th of the month . Both Dulles and Washington-Reagan Airport broke their all-time seasonal snowfall records with totals of 73.2 inches and 56.1 inches (1859 and 1425 mm), respectively. On the 12th and 13th, heavy wet snowfall was observed in a swath stretching from south-central Alabama eastward to the coastal Carolinas. Athens, Georgia and Columbia, SC received 4.6 and 8.6 inches (85 and 218mm) of snow, respectively. Also locations along the coast, including Charleston, South Carolina and Jacksonville, North Carolina, received more than 6.0 inches and 3.0 inches (152 and 76 mm) of snow, respectively. The Myrtle Beach Marathon was canceled due to the unexpected snow leaving near 6,000 runners who had traveled to the area without a race.
- There were only 20 severe storm reports across the region during the month, and 18 of these reports occurred in Florida. On the 5th of the month, strong winds caused a large tent to collapse at the Florida State Fair resulting in 7 injuries. No tornadoes were reported across the region during the month.
- 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)
- February 2010 was a cold month across the High Plains Region. Temperature departures were below normal for the entire Region except for a few locations in western Wyoming. The majority of the Region had average temperatures which were 3 degrees F to 9 degrees F (1.7 degrees C to 5.0 degrees C) below normal. A rather large swath extending from western North Dakota into western and central South Dakota, and pockets of Colorado and Nebraska had average temperatures which were 9 degrees F to 12 degrees F (5.0 degrees C to 6.7 degrees C) below normal. The largest temperature departures of more than 10 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) below normal occurred in western North Dakota and west central South Dakota. These below normal temperatures were cold enough to place many locations in the top 10 coldest Februaries on record. This month's cold location was Medora, North Dakota which had its fifth coldest February on record (period of record 1948-2010). Medora recorded an average temperature of 11.3 degrees F (-11.5 degrees C) which was 11.9 degrees F (6.6 degrees C) below normal. The coldest February on record for Medora occurred in 1949 with an average temperature of only 6.3 degrees F (-14.3 degrees C).
- Precipitation varied widely across the Region this month. Locations which received only 50 percent of normal or less included western Wyoming, eastern Colorado, and small pockets of central Kansas and western North Dakota. Areas which received over 200 percent of normal included central Colorado, eastern South Dakota, western Nebraska, and a few pockets of northern North Dakota. South central Colorado was this month's wet area, with liquid equivalent precipitation totals well over 300 percent of normal. At least two locations in Colorado had their wettest February on record and others were ranked in the top 10. Trinidad Perry Stokes Airport, Colorado received 1.80 inches (45.7 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation which broke the old record of 1.27 inches (32.3 mm) set in 1990 (period of record 1948-2010). Walsh 1 W, Colorado also set a record with 1.94 inches (49.3 mm), or 462 percent of normal precipitation. This precipitation beat the old record of 1.62 inches (41.1 mm) received in 1987 (period of record 1940-2010). While no snowfall records were broken this month, the snow that fell aided many locations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas in breaking into the top 10 snowiest winters (December, January, and February) on record. This winter's snowy location was Lincoln, Nebraska with a total winter snowfall of 38.8 inches (98.55 cm). This total edged out the old record of 35.6 inches (90.42 cm) which was recorded in the winter of 2003-2004 (period of record 1948-2010).
- All states from North Dakota south through Kansas remained drought free this month. Categorical improvement occurred in southwest Colorado where recent precipitation has brought the snowpack up to near average or above average. However, abnormally dry (D0) and moderate drought (D1) conditions have spread further into Wyoming due to a low snow pack. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, snowpacks of only 60 percent of normal were present in many locations. Drought conditions in Wyoming are expected to persist through May 2010, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released February 18th.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- As the case has been all winter, February mean monthly temperature averages in the Southern Region remained below normal. Temperature values were persistently below normal for much of the month. In general, temperatures throughout the Southern Region averaged between 4 and 12 degrees F (2.2 and 6.7 degrees C) below normal. The Mississippi state wide average temperature for the month was 41.1 degrees F (5.1 degrees C), which was the eighth coldest February in the 1895-2010 period of record. Louisiana recorded an average monthly temperature of 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C), which was the fifth coldest February on record (1895-2010). In Arkansas, it was the 7th coldest February on record (1895-2010) with an average temperature of 36.3 degrees F (2.4 degrees C), while in Texas, this February was the sixth coldest February on record (1895-2010). Texas reported a state wide average monthly temperature of 43.7 degrees F (6.5 degrees C). Oklahoma and Tennessee, the two most northern states in the region, reported state wide average temperatures of 35.2 and 33.8 degrees F (1.8 and 1.0 degrees C), respectively. For Oklahoma, it was the 12th coldest February on record (1895-2010), while for Tennessee, it was the 11th coldest February.
- Monthly precipitation totals were quite variable over the Southern Region for the month of February. Conditions were dry throughout the state of Tennessee, with most stations recording only 50-70 percent of the monthly normal. Similar conditions were also observed in northern Mississippi, northern and southeastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana and eastern Oklahoma. Elsewhere in the Southern Region, precipitation totals were generally near normal for the month, with the exception of western Oklahoma, western Texas and southern Texas. In these locations, the majority of stations recorded between 200 and 400 percent of normal precipitation. For Texas, February, 2010 was the 11th wettest February in the 1895-2010 period of record.
- In terms of severe weather, a strong storm on Feb 11-12 dumped snow across the southern states. In Dallas, a total of 12.5 inches (317.5 mm) of snowfall was recorded. This value set the record for 24 hour daily snowfall in Dallas. The previous record was 7.4 inches (188 mm), and that was set in January of 1964. The storm left approximately 180,000 customers without power. On the 12th of the month, snow was observed as far south as Baton Rouge, where 1 inch (25.4 mm) was reported. Other areas of significant snowfall from the storm included Natchitoches, Louisiana, which received 6 inches (152.4 mm), De Kalb, Mississippi with 8 inches (203.2 mm), Haworth, Oklahoma with 7.5 inches (190.5 mm), and Haslet, Texas with 14.2 inches (360.7 mm), to name but a few.
- As of February 16, 2010, the Southern Region is officially drought free, a condition that has not occurred since April 5, 2005. The date of February 16, 2010 also put an end to the Texas drought, which officially began back in November of 2007.
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures for February 2010 were near to below normal in the Southwest and Intermountain West, with eastern Montana recording well below normal temperatures. The Pacific Northwest, northern California and northern Nevada were mostly above normal. There was a very sharp dividing line in Montana between positive and negative departures. The average temperature in Havre, MT, was nearly 11 degrees F (7 deg C) below normal while 100 miles to the west in Cut Bank the average was 2 degrees F (1 deg C) above normal. Many intermountain valleys were colder than normal thanks to persistent inversions. The warmth in the northern tier of states, especially in the Pacific Northwest (and the winter Olympics in nearby Vancouver/Whistler), as well as the cool conditions in the southern tier, are both consistent with the presence of a moderately strong El Nino this winter.
- Precipitation continued to follow the El Nino pattern of dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest and wet in the Southwest. Eastern New Mexico recorded the greatest anomalies with some locations reporting precipitation totals 400 percent of normal. Clayton, NM, recorded their 3rd wettest February on record in over 100 years of data.
- In normally wet Hilo, Hawaii, total rainfall for January and February combined is only 2.32 inches (59 mm), which is less than Las Vegas, NV, at 3.09 inches (78 mm). Hilo's normal for the two months is 18.60 inches (472 mm). Hawaii typically experiences dry conditions during El Nino.
- Mountain snowpack on March 1st remained mostly below normal throughout the west except for Arizona, New Mexico and southern Utah. Portions of the Pacific Northwest and northern Intermountain region were only 50 percent - 60 percent of normal for March 1st while most of Arizona is still over 200 percent of normal.
- An important regional indicator, the Colorado River spring-summer snowmelt inflow to Lake Powell, is now projected to be only 68 percent of average. This reflects very low contributions from the Green River, low contributions from the upper mainstem Colorado, and near to slightly above normal contributions from the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. Potentially serious drought conditions are shaping up for many parts of the West if spring precipitation is not significantly above normal.
- February 6: Heavy Rain in Southern California: Heavy rain with up to 4.5 inches (114 mm) in the mountains above Los Angeles on the Station Fire burn area triggered mud/debris flows in the La Canada-Flintridge area near Pasadena. 41 homes were seriously damaged and another 500 were ordered evacuated. No injuries had were reported, although several people were trapped for a time in their homes or cars by mud and/or debris, which was estimated to be at least two to three feet deep in some areas. Rockslides closed a section of road in Topanga Canyon and scattered power outages affected more the 10,000 customers in the Los Angeles area.
See NCDC's Monthly Records web-page for weather and climate records for the month of May. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for any period, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.
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.