National Climate Report - February 2013
Maps and Graphics
U.S. Percentage Areas
Supplemental February 2013 Information
- Year-to-date temperature evolution for select U.S. cities
- Winter (December 2012-February 2013) snowfall accumulations for select U.S. cities
- Regional Snowfall Index for select February snow storms
- Great Lakes Water Levels, Precipitation, and Temperatures
- February daily temperature extremes
- Winter divisional precipitation departure and drought improvement maps
- Climate Highlights — February
- The February average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 34.8°F, which was 0.8°F above the 20th century average.
- February temperatures were near-average for a Canadian-border states and parts of the Gulf Coast were warmer than average.
- The nationally-averaged precipitation total during February was 2.00 inches, which was 0.02 inch below the long-term average, masking regional wet and dry extremes.
- The Oregon’s precipitation total of 1.20 inches was 2.00 inches below average and marked the seventh driest February for the state.
- Rhode Island its third wettest.
- Georgia had its wettest February on record with 9.92 inches of precipitation, 5.42 inches above average. The above-average precipitation drastically improved drought conditions which have been present since the summer of 2010. Neighboring Alabama had its fourth wettest February and South Carolina its seventh wettest.
- Three major winter storms impacted the nation during February, contributing to an above-average monthly snow cover extent, according to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. A Nor’easter hit the East Coast on February 7th-10th, dropping over 30 inches of snow in parts of New England. The storm was rated a Category 3 on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS), which takes into account snowfall accumulation in the densely populated areas of the northeastern United States. Back-to-back winter storms hit the central U.S. on February 20th-23rd and 25th-28th, bringing heavy snowfall totals and near blizzard conditions from New Mexico to Michigan.
- According to the February 26 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 54.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, smaller than the 57.7 percent at the end of January. Drought conditions continued to plague much of the Great Plains and West.
- Climate Highlights — winter season (December 2012 — February 2013)
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the winter season was 34.3°F, 1.9°F above the 20th century average, marking the 20th warmest winter on record.
- near-average winter temperatures reported in the Northwest.
- The winter nationally-averaged precipitation total of 7.10 inches was 0.63 inch above the long-term average.
- The Below-average precipitation occurred from the West Coast through the Northern Plains and Rockies.
- According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the winter average snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was 1.3 million square miles, which was 127,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. This marked the 15th largest seasonal snow cover extent in the 1966-present period of record.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was slightly below average during the December-February, period. However, the component that examines the spatial extent of drought was more than three times the normal value for the 3-month period.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was less than half the 1895-2012 period of record average during winter. This was the 14th smallest such value on record.
- Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January — February)
- The first two months of 2013 were warmer than average for the contiguous U.S. with a nationally-averaged temperature of 33.3°F, 1.2°F above average. Utah had its 12th coolest January-February, with temperatures 5.3°F below average.
- The January–February precipitation total for the U.S. was 4.36 inches, just 0.12 inch below average. Above-average precipitation was present for parts of the Midwest and Gulf Coast, where seven states were top ten wet.
Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:
- Alaska had its 41st warmest February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 3.0°F (1.7°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 27th warmest winter season (December 2012-February 2013) since records began in 1918, with a temperature 2.0°F (1.1°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 15th warmest January-February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 5.0°F (2.8°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 29th wettest February since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 33.0 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 17th wettest winter season (December 2012-February 2013) since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 32.2 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 12th wettest January-February since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 54.1 percent above 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 Climate Summary page". 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)
- Preliminary data indicates that the average temperature for February in the Northeast was neither above nor below normal: at 26.4 degrees F (-3.1 degrees C), it was exactly normal. Seven states were cooler than average with departures ranging from -1.9 degrees F (-1.1 degrees C) in West Virginia to -0.2 degrees F (-0.1 degrees C) in Connecticut. Of the five warm states, three ranked February 2013 in their top 25 warmest: Maine, 15th and New Hampshire and Vermont, 22nd. Departures among the warm states ranged from +0.3 degrees F (+0.2 degrees C) in Massachusetts to +3.2 degrees F (+1.8 degrees C) in Maine. For Winter 2012-13, the Northeast’s average temperature of 28.8 degrees F (-1.8 degrees C) was 2.6 degrees F (1.4 degrees C) above average making it the 16th warmest winter in 118 years. Despite the mixed temperatures of February, winter ranked as one of the top 25 warmest in all states. Departures ranged from +2.1 degrees F (+1.2 degrees C) in Connecticut to +3.9 degrees F (+2.2 degrees C) in Delaware.
- Total precipitation in the Northeast was down in February. The 2.56 inches (65.02 mm) of precipitation was 0.14 inches (3.56 mm) below average and 94 percent of normal. The states were split with six drier than normal and six wetter than normal. In terms of percent of normal, West Virginia was the driest state at 57 percent, making it their 16th driest February on record. Of the other dry states departures ranged from 69 percent of normal in Vermont, their 26th driest, to 98 percent of normal in New Hampshire. Rhode Island was the wettest state at 174 percent of normal, making it their 3rd wettest February. Departures for the other wet states were from 113 percent of normal in Connecticut to 139 percent of normal in Massachusetts, their 8th wettest. As for Winter 2012-13, the Northeast received 10.37 inches (263.4 mm) of precipitation (113 percent of normal). Eight states ended up wetter than average while four states reported drier than normal winters. Of the eight wet states, four ranked this winter as one of their 25 wettest: Pennsylvania, 19th; New York, 21st; New Jersey, 22nd; and Rhode Island, 23rd. Departures for the wet states ranged from 105 percent of normal in Delaware and Massachusetts to 122 percent of normal in New Jersey. For the dry states departures ranged from 86 percent of normal in Connecticut to 99 percent of normal in New Hampshire.
- A clipper system and coastal storm merged to create blizzard conditions in parts of the Northeast from the 8th through 9th. The storm dumped record-setting snowfall from New York to Maine. The highest snowfall total of 40 inches (101.6 cm) was reported in Hamden, CT. Strong winds (a gust of 83 mph (37 m/s) was reported in Falmouth, MA) brought whiteout conditions to much of New England and whipped up waves that carved a 1,600-foot-wide (487.68 m) hole in the barrier beach near Chatham, MA. In New York, the storm left more than a hundred cars stranded along the Long Island Expressway while in Connecticut there were reports of over a dozen collapsed roofs due to the snow. The storm left some 650,000 customers without power and resulted in a dozen deaths. At the end of the month, a potent storm brought a mix of precipitation to the Northeast. Up to 19 inches (48.26 cm) of snow was reported in southwestern Vermont while 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) of ice accumulated in northwestern New Jersey and nearly 2.00 inches (50.8 mm) of rain fell in eastern New York. The storm set precipitation records at eleven climate sites.
- 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 averaged near to slightly below normal across the Midwest. The coldest temperatures relative to normal were across the upper Midwest where parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin were as much as 4 degrees F (2 C) below normal. Despite the monthly average of below normal temperatures, the second week of the month was warm across the region. Temperatures were as much as 9 degrees F (5 C) above normal in Iowa. A warm start to the winter (December-February) season kept seasonal temperature departures above normal for much of the Midwest despite the cooler than normal February. Most of the southeastern half of the region was 2 degrees F (1 C) or more above normal for the winter.
- February precipitation ranged from less than 50 percent of normal in parts of Kentucky and less than 75 percent of normal in southwest Iowa to more than 200 percent of normal in northwest Minnesota and near Lake Michigan. Above normal precipitation was recorded from Missouri north to Minnesota and northeast to Michigan. Near normal precipitation fell across Indiana and northern Ohio. Winter precipitation was above normal for nearly all of the Midwest. Western Iowa and northwest Missouri were slightly below normal but precipitation totals increased to more than 150 percent of normal in northwest Minnesota and along a swath from southern Wisconsin across the middle of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Snow totals were well below normal in the first two months of winter in Kentucky and along a swath from Missouri to Lower Michigan, however several storm systems tracked through Missouri in February and brought winter totals to more than twice normal in northern Missouri. The snowiest locations in Missouri picked up 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 cm) of snow in a week. Northern parts of Illinois and Indiana were below normal for the season along with Kentucky which missed out on much of the snow in February.
- Drought conditions improved slightly in the Midwest in February. While much of the western half of the region remains in drought, the severity has lessened slightly in locations outside Iowa and southern Minnesota. Although precipitation was plentiful in the upper Midwest, concerns remain as the soils were frozen solid which will lead to much of the precipitation running off rather than recharging the very dry soil moisture profile.
- For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Mean temperatures were variable across the Southeast in February. Monthly temperatures were 1 to 2 degrees F (0.5 to 1.1 degrees C) above average across Florida and coastal sections of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Puerto Rico. In contrast, monthly temperatures were 1 to 2 degrees F below average across the rest of the region, including interior sections of Puerto Rico, with the greatest departures across central and northern portions of the Carolinas. Monthly temperatures were near normal across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Regionally, the warmest weather occurred between the 11th and 13th of the month, with maximum temperatures exceeding 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) across northern Virginia and 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) across southeastern Georgia. Temperatures were also unseasonably warm across much of the Florida Peninsula during the last week of the month. Inverness, FL, located northwest of Orlando, recorded a monthly record maximum temperature of 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C) on the 23rd (period of record: 1899-2013). In contrast, the coldest weather occurred from the 17th to the 19th of the month, with temperatures running over 20 degrees F (12.3 degrees C) below average in some places. Temperatures failed to reach 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) across parts of Virginia and North Carolina and 60 degrees F across much of the Florida Peninsula during this period. Subfreezing temperatures were also observed as far south as Daytona Beach, FL on the morning of the 18th.
- For the second consecutive month, precipitation was above normal across a large portion of the Southeast. The wettest locations were found across a swath extending from southern Alabama and northwest Florida through central and southern sections of Georgia and South Carolina, where monthly precipitation totals ranged from 10 inches (254 mm) to over 20 inches (508 mm) in places. One of the wettest locations was Geneva, AL (near the Alabama-Florida border) which recorded 23.51 inches (597.2 mm) for the month. Several locations recorded their wettest February on record, including Tallahassee, FL (12.36 inches (313.9 mm)), Columbus, GA (12.47 inches (316.7 mm)), Macon, GA (12.87 inches (326.9 mm)), Savannah, GA (9.75 inches (247.7 mm)), and Charleston, SC (10.47 inches (265.9 mm)). In fact, Columbus and Macon received more rainfall in February than in the previous four and five months combined, respectively, while Charleston followed a record dry January with a record wet February. Regionally, much of the monthly precipitation fell between the 7th and 14th as a frontal boundary stalled across the region. Daily rainfall totals of 2 to 5 inches (50.8 to 127 mm) were recorded across parts of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Another round of heavy precipitation occurred from the 22nd to 26th of the month as two low pressure systems tracked across the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. As much as 10 inches of rain fell across parts of northern Florida and southern sections of Alabama and Georgia, which caused some rivers to rise above flood stage. In contrast, the driest locations in February were found across northern Virginia, central Florida, and much of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where monthly precipitation totals were less than 50 percent of normal. Orlando, FL recorded just 0.67 inches (17 mm) of rainfall for the month, which was nearly 2 inches below normal. Remarkably, the official station at Charlotte Amalie Airport on the island of St. Thomas failed to record any measurable precipitation in February.
- The Southeast was impacted by several winter storms in February. On the 3rd of the month, between 1 and 5 inches (25.4 and 127 mm) of snow fell across northern sections of Georgia and South Carolina as well as much of Virginia, while 6 to 13 inches (152.4 to 330.2 mm) of snow was reported across the higher elevations of western North Carolina. A massive storm that dumped several feet of snow across parts of New England also brought between 1 and 4 inches (25.4 and 101.6 mm) of snow to parts of northern Virginia on the 8th and 9th of the month. Another storm system on the 16th brought widespread snowfall of 1 to 3 inches (25.4 to 76.2 mm) across much of the Carolinas, Virginia, and northern Alabama. Up to 7 inches (177.8 mm) was also reported across the Southern Appalachians and trace amounts of snow were reported at several beaches along the Carolina coast. On the morning of the 19th, between 1 and 2 inches (25.4 and 50.8 mm) of snow fell across northern portions of Georgia and South Carolina, while western portions of North Carolina recorded up to 3 inches of snow. A low pressure system moving through the central U.S. on the 22nd of the month was responsible for up to an inch of snow and sleet across central North Carolina and southern Virginia. On the 26th, an ice storm struck parts of western North Carolina with up to 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) of freezing rain, which was followed by up to 6 inches of new snowfall on the 27th and 28th of the month.
- There were just 50 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in February, including four confirmed tornadoes. Two of these tornadoes, both EF-1s, occurred across Washington and Clarke Counties in southwest Alabama as part of a small outbreak that affected the southern U.S. on the 10th of the month. A few homes and structures sustained damage while several trees were snapped or uprooted. On the 25th of the month, an EF-0 tornado was observed over the St. George Island Bridge in Franklin County, FL near Apalachicola. No damage was reported. The next day, an EF-0 tornado was confirmed in Johnston County, NC near the town of Selma. The tornado caused extensive damage to a two-story barn as well as roof damage to several other structures. Also on the 26th, a severe thunderstorm moving through the Tampa Bay, FL area produced a 91 mph (40.7 m/s) wind gust at Cedar Key, resulting in downed trees and power lines. A short-lived waterspout was also captured on camera over Hillsborough Bay near downtown Tampa.
- Drought conditions continued to improve across the Southeast in February. By the end of the month, only 28 percent of the region was classified in drought (D1 and greater), down from 43 percent at the beginning of the month. Most notably, the area of extreme and exceptional drought (D3 and D4) across southeast Georgia, which had persisted for nearly two years, was eliminated. In general, the State saw up to a two category improvement in drought conditions, while much of South Carolina saw a one category improvement. Small improvements were also observed across parts of North Carolina and Virginia, while drought conditions were eliminated across nearly all of Alabama and northwest Florida. On the other hand, the warm, dry weather across much of the Florida Peninsula resulted in an emergence of moderate and severe drought (D1 and D2) across central and northeast portions of the State. The heavy rain and flooding across parts of Georgia delayed the preparation of fields for spring planting, but also helped recharge aquifers in advance of the growing season. Across northern Florida, the heavy rain aided the development of winter wheat, while the warm, dry conditions to the south helped many fruit and vegetable crops mature ahead of schedule. Only minimal crop damage was reported from the cold weather during the middle of 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)
- Average temperatures for February 2013 were generally on the cooler side for the High Plains Region. The only exceptions were the western halves of the Dakotas, southwest Wyoming, and central and eastern Nebraska. The largest above normal temperature departures occurred in western North Dakota and South Dakota where average temperatures ranged from 3.0-6.0 degrees F (1.7-3.3 degrees C) above normal. These temperature departures were not record breaking. Meanwhile, temperature departures of 3.0-6.0 degrees F (1.7-3.3 degrees C) below normal were common in central and western Colorado, central Wyoming, south-central Kansas, and the eastern sides of the Dakotas. Western Colorado had some of the larger departures in the Region with average temperatures of 6.0-10.0 degrees F (3.3-5.6 degrees C) below normal. A few locations ranked in the top 5 coolest Februaries on record in parts of Colorado. Crested Butte, the popular ski destination, had its second coolest February on record with an average temperature of only 7.5 degrees F (-13.6 degrees C). Although this was 5.9 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) below normal, the 1974 record of 3.9 degrees F (-15.6 degrees C) firmly held (period of record 1910-2013).
- Precipitation was highly variable this month with many locations receiving above normal precipitation and others receiving little to none. Areas receiving at least 150 percent of normal precipitation generally included a swath running from central Colorado to the northeast through the eastern Dakotas, central and eastern Kansas, northern North Dakota, and central Wyoming. The precipitation had various impacts on the ongoing drought. For example, the snows in Kansas had ample moisture to put a dent in drought conditions, while the snows in Nebraska were drier and had little to no impact on the drought conditions there. Meanwhile, snowpack in the Rockies remained lower than average as Wyoming increased from last month to 84 percent of average and Colorado held at 75 percent of average. Several systems passed through the Region this month. One storm on February 10-11 brought heavy snows to parts of the Dakotas with the highest totals topping out at about 20.0 inches (51 cm). This snowstorm closed parts of I-29 and I-90 as well as numerous schools and universities. Later in the month, two other major snowstorms hit the Region in just a matter of days. A large storm on February 20-21 spurred winter storm warnings across all of Kansas and the majority of Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. Snowfall totals in Kansas and Nebraska generally ranged from 6.0-12.0 inches (15-30 cm), however, the highest amounts were found in north-central Kansas where snowfall amounts exceeded 20.0 inches (51 cm). In addition, snowfall rates close to 4.0 inches (10 cm) per hour and thundersnow were reported. Schools, universities, and businesses closed in both Kansas and Nebraska. The heavy snow caused travel to become nearly impossible as roads closed and flights were cancelled. A second snowstorm blasted southern parts of the Region just a week later (February 24-26) bringing heavy snow not only to Kansas, but also Oklahoma and Texas. Again, thundersnow was reported in addition to blizzard conditions and up to a foot (30 cm) of snowfall accumulations. These two snowstorms caused Wichita, Kansas to set a new February snowfall record. Wichita’s February total was 21.2 inches (54 cm) which just beat out the old record of 20.5 inches (52 cm) set all the way back in 1913 (period of record 1888-2013). Not only was this the snowiest February in Wichita, it was also the snowiest month ever recorded.
- There were slight changes to the U.S. Drought Monitor over the past month - some for better and some for worse. Approximately 91 percent of the Region was still in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought. This was down slightly from the end of last month when 92 percent of the Region was in D1-D4. Areas of degradation included an expansion of extreme drought (D3) in northwest South Dakota and a D4 expansion in eastern Colorado. Luckily, there were also improvements. The small area of D4 in southwestern Wyoming was erased and severe drought conditions (D2) continued to improve in eastern portions of the Dakotas. Although two large snowstorms hit southern areas of the Region, there were varying degrees of improvement in drought conditions. Luckily, portions of the D4 conditions improved in the north-central and south-central parts of Kansas. The D3 area in northeast Kansas improved as well. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released February 21st, drought conditions were expected to improve somewhat in North Dakota, northern and eastern South Dakota, northwestern Wyoming, and the far eastern edge of Kansas. Drought was expected to persist elsewhere through May 2013.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- February temperatures in the Southern Region varied from north to south, with the north experiencing a slightly cooler than normal month, while the southern half experienced yet another warmer than normal month. Average temperature anomalies did not sway too far from normal. In the north where it was cooler, temperatures averaged only a couple of degrees below expected values. In the south, temperatures averaged between 0 and 6 degrees F (0 to 3.33 degrees C) above normal, with the highest anomalies occurring in the southern portions of Texas and along the Texas Gulf coast.
- February precipitation totals varied significantly over the Southern Region. In western Oklahoma and north western Texas, precipitation totals ranged from two hundred to over three hundred percent of normal. It should be noted, however; that these values equate to approximately 2 to 4 inches (50.8 to 101.6 mm) of precipitation. Conditions were also a lot wetter than normal in southern Mississippi and in south eastern Louisiana, where precipitation for the month ranged from one hundred and thirty to two hundred and fifty percent of normal. The precipitation totals ranged from 6 to 10 inches in south eastern Louisiana, to 10 to 12 inches (254.0 to 304.8 mm) in southern Mississippi. Conversely, it was quite dry throughout most of Tennessee, with precipitation totals there ranging from twenty-five to ninety percent of normal. Southern Texas was also extremely dry, particularly in the south west and southern tip of the state. Most stations in those regions received under five percent of normal precipitation, with many not seeing a drop of rain all month.
- Above average precipitation in central Oklahoma has lead to the removal of most of the exceptional drought that had resided there last month. There has also been a one drought category improvement over much of the state in general. Elsewhere, drought conditions have not changed significantly. Severe and extreme drought conditions continue to plague the state of Texas, while the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee remain drought-free.
- On February 10, 2013, a series of twisters touched down in southern Mississippi. Dozens of injuries were reported over several counties. In Marion County, eight people were injured. In addition, dozens of injuries were reported in Lamar County and in Forrest County, Mississippi, where twisters ravaged parts of the city of Hattiesburg. Over sixty injuries were reported, but fortunately, there were no reported fatalities. Reuters reported that one twister was believed to have a path width of one mile (1.6 km). Damage was reported across the city of Hattiesburg, including parts of the University of Southern Mississippi. One of the twisters was reported to have been an EF-3, with wind speeds in excess of 140 mph (225.3 kmph).
- Several twisters also occurred in south eastern Texas on February 18, 2013. Damage reported appears to be restricted mostly to trees and power lines.
- One twister-related fatality was reported on February 21, 2013. This occurred in Sabine County, Texas.
- In Texas, as of March 1, 2013 reservoirs were at 67.0 percent of conservation storage, 2 percent less than the previous record and almost 5 percent less than 2012. Because of this, more regions of the state are attempting to curtail their water use. The Edwards Plateau region has approved a plan designed after the 1950s drought plan, estimated to cost between $16 and $18 million. With the onset of spring, harvesting and new planting is a concern for farmers. Dry soil moisture conditions near Wichita Falls and El Paso has caused farmers to pump groundwater and replant to keep their pecan, bean, and pea harvests from going under. Loss of grazing land over the last several months has caused ranchers to sell off their livestock and meat-packaging plants to close, costing two thousand jobs. Corn planting was down after increased corn priced were expected to boost numbers. Not all of the state is in as poor condition, as recent snowfall in the Panhandle has helped replenish upper-level soil moisture and has farmers in the region optimistic. (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
- January’s cool and dry conditions continued throughout February for much of the West. The position of the high pressure ridge typically present over the West in February was shifted slightly west of its climatological mean, allowing cold air masses to dip southward east of the Sierra and ample precipitation to reach the Rockies. The inland Northwest was the only area to see above normal temperatures this month, the fourth consecutive month this area has been warmer than average.
- February was a dry month, especially in the Cascades/Sierra Nevada, with small average or moist pockets in the central Great Basin and northern and central Rockies. This followed on the heels of a very dry January as well. After a wet start to winter in December, many California and western Nevada locations saw January-February precipitation totals in the 10 driest on record. Downtown San Francisco recorded only 1.82 in (46 mm) thus far in 2013, the 5th driest January-February in a 163-year record. Nearby Santa Cruz, CA recorded its driest such period since 1893 with 1.22 in (31 mm; normal is 12.52 in / 318 mm). Further north, Ukiah and Eureka, California, saw their 2nd and 3rd driest January-February, respectively. A grand total of 0.12 in (3 mm) liquid precipitation fell at the Reno, Nevada, airport during January and February, the driest such period since the record began in 1937. Sierra snowpack water equivalent fell to 60-70% of normal at month’s end. Further south, Los Angeles, California, experienced its 15th driest January-February in a 69-year record at 1.5 in (38 mm), 25% of normal.
- The position of the high-pressure ridge this month helped guide storm systems into the eastern Great Basin and Rockies. Despite above normal February snowfall, snow water equivalent for river basins of northeastern Nevada stood at 80-95% of normal at the end of the month. Further east, Salt lake City, Utah, enjoyed its 16th snowiest winter-to-date, but 22nd driest February on a 139-year record. Colorado Springs, Colorado recorded the 9th wettest February on record with 0.9 in (23 mm) precipitation and 13th snowiest at 10.6 in (27 cm). This month was also the first since September 2012 that Pueblo, Colorado recorded above normal precipitation. February precipitation helped to ease persistent drought conditions in western Wyoming and Colorado, while much of the eastern portions of these states remained categorized as severe to exceptional drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Even with this month’s snowfall, snow water equivalent for Colorado basins stood at 65-80% of normal at the end of the month. Snowpack in Wyoming’s basins fared slightly better, between 75% and 100% of normal. Most basins in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho reported above normal snow water equivalent at the end of February.
- While most of the West was cooler than normal, Montana logged its third consecutive month of above normal average statewide temperatures at 28.0 F (-2.2 C), 3.7 F (2.1 C) above normal. Eleven of the past 13 months have been warmer than average for the state. Unusually cold temperatures continued in the Great Basin. Ely and Winnemucca, in northeastern Nevada, recorded their 13th coldest winters on record at an average 22.6 F (-5.2 C) and 26 F (-3.3 C), respectively. Records began in 1893 at Ely and 1877 at Winnemucca. Temperatures more than 10 F (5.5 C) below normal were also seen in northwestern Utah in the Great Salt Lake Desert.
- Hawaiian Islands this month, helping to alleviate persistent drought in these areas. Hilo, Hawaii recorded 23.12 in (587 mm) for the month, 242% of normal and the 7th wettest February since records began at Hilo in 1949. After Strong northeast trade winds and heavy precipitation arrived on the windward sides of the having above normal January precipitation, leeward locales such as Honolulu and Lihue returned to the past year’s trend of below normal precipitation.
- Following a warmer than normal January statewide, mild temperatures dominated the Interior and southern regions of Alaska, while the Northern and Western regions were a chilly 6-8 F (3-4 C) below the February normal. Persistent precipitation fell in the southern portion of the state, especially the Southeast. January’s wet conditions continued in Juneau, which recorded 6.61 in (167 mm) for the month, the 7th wettest February on its 64-year record.
- February 21: High stream flow in Kauai’s Na Pali coast: Heavy rainfall over the island of Kauai lead to above normal flow in Hanakapiai Stream on the Na Pali coast. Over 50 hikers were trapped overnight as they could not ford the swollen Hanakapiai stream and high winds prevented rescue efforts.
- February (all month): Inversions and poor air quality in Salt Lake City: The frigid temperatures and strong inversions observed in January were fewer and weaker this month though still observed. In Salt Lake City, 22 days this winter exceeded federal air quality standards for pollution levels, as compared to a single day last winter.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.
See NCDC's Monthly Records web-page for weather and climate records for the most recent month. 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 Temperature and Precipitation Maps page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.