National Climate Report - February 2014
NCEI added Alaska climate divisions to its nClimDiv dataset on Friday, March 6, 2015, coincident with the release of the February 2015 monthly monitoring report. For more information on this data, please visit the Alaska Climate Divisions FAQ.
Maps and Graphics
Temperature and Precipitation Ranks
U.S. Percentage Areas
Supplemental February 2014 Information
- Year-to-date temperature evolution for select U.S. cities
- Year-to-date precipitation evolution for select U.S. cities
- Winter temperatures for select U.S. cities
- Winter temperature trends
- Winter snowfall for select U.S. cities
- Great Lakes ice cover
- February daily temperature extremes
- U.S. temperature and precipitation dataset transitiion
- Climate Highlights — February
- The contiguous U.S. February temperature was 32.2°F, 1.6°F below the 20th century average, and the 37th coldest February on record.
- Below-average February temperatures were observed across much of the northern and central contiguous U.S., with the largest departures from normal across the Midwest. Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin each had a top ten cold February, though no state was record cold.
- The Southwest and Florida were warmer than average. Arizona, California, and Utah each had February temperatures that ranked among the ten warmest on record, though no state was record warm.
- The February national precipitation total was 2.12 inches, 0.01 inch below average, ranking near the middle of the 120-year period of record.
- Below-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Southeast, the Northern and Southern Plains, and the Southwest. Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma had February precipitation totals that were top ten dry.
- Above-average precipitation fell across the Northwest, Northern Rockies, Midwest, and parts of the Northeast. Montana and Wyoming both had a top ten wet February.
- According to the March 4 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 35.9 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from 37.4 percent at the beginning of February. Drought conditions improved across the western Gulf Coast states, while drought intensified in the Southern Plains. Some minor drought relief occurred in the West, when a late-winter storm dropped heavy precipitation across the region, but 22.4 percent of California continued to experience the worst classification of drought, known as D4 or "exceptional", with mountain snowpack still much below average.
- There were 1.75 times as many record cold daily highs (2,205) and lows (1,276, or a total of 3,481) as many warm daily highs (945) and lows (1,043, or a total of 1,988).
- According to NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the February snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was 1.48 million square miles, 282,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. This was the ninth largest February snow cover extent in the 48-year period of record for the contiguous U.S. and the largest since 2010.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI) , the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during February was 25 percent above average and the 33rd highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
- Climate Highlights — winter (December 2013 – February 2014)
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the winter was 31.3°F, 1.0°F below the 20th century average. This winter ranked as the 34th coldest winter on record and the coldest since 2009/10.
- Below-average temperatures dominated east of the Rockies, with the coldest conditions occurring across the Midwest. Numerous cold Arctic air outbreaks impacted the region during the winter season, particularly during January and February. Seven Midwestern states were much colder than average and had a top ten cold winter season, though no state was record cold.
- The persistent cold during winter resulted in 91 percent of the Great Lakes being frozen by the beginning of March, according to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. This was second largest ice cover for the Great Lakes since records began in 1973, and only surpassed by the Great Lakes ice cover in 1979.
- Above and much above average temperatures were present for Florida and much of the West. California had its warmest winter on record, while Arizona had its fourth warmest. The California winter temperature was 48.0°F, 4.4°F above the 20th century average, far exceeding the previous record, set in 1980/81, by 0.8°F.
- The winter precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 5.69 inches, 1.10 inches below average, and the ninth driest winter on record.
- Much of the West and Great Plains were much drier than average. Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas each had a top ten dry winter season. During winter, drought intensified across the West and Southern Plains. Statewide reservoirs in Texas averaged 64 percent capacity on February 20, their lowest level for the time of the year since 1990.
- Beneficial rainfall at the end of February provided some marginal drought relief in the Far West. As of March 1, reservoirs across central and northern California had storage levels between 36 percent and 74 percent of their historical averages for the date. Locations in northern and central California would need over 18 inches of precipitation over the next three months to end the current drought, which would be highly unusual.
- Above-average precipitation was observed in the Northern Rockies, and parts of the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. Across these regions, numerous winter storms brought heavy snowfall. Detroit had its snowiest winter on record, while New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston each had one of their ten snowiest winters. A list of snowfall totals for select U.S. cities can be found here.
- Alaska had its eighth warmest winter on record with an average temperature 6.2°F above the 1971-2000 average, marking the warmest winter for the state since 2002/03. Alaska's winter statewide precipitation total was 20.9 percent above average and the 27th wettest winter in 1918-2014 record.
- According to NOAA data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the winter average snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was 1.42 million square miles, which was 170,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. This marked the 10th largest seasonal snow cover extent in the 1966-present period of record. Above-average snow cover was observed across the northern and eastern U.S., while below-average snow cover was observed from the Southern Rockies westward.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) during winter was above average and the 25th highest value on record for the season. Elements that contributed to the above average USCEI included the spatial extent of cold maximum and minimum temperatures and days with precipitation. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower ten percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation, and drought across the contiguous United States. The CEI for the West region was record high during winter.
- Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during winter was 27 percent above average and the 30th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
With this report and data release, the National Climatic Data Center is transitioning to an improved U.S. temperature and precipitation dataset called nClimDiv. More information on this transition and how the new temperature and precipitation values compare to values previously reported this winter can be found here:
- Technical information on transition
- December 2013 and January 2014 temperature and precipitation comparisons
- Background information
- Transitioning to a Gridded Climate Divisional Dataset
**A comparison of the national temperature departure from average as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (USHCN) and the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is available on our National Temperature Index page.**
Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:
- Alaska had its 48th coolest February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 8th warmest December-February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 6.20°F (3.44°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 7th warmest January-February since records began in 1918, with a temperature 7.99°F (4.44°C) above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 13th driest February since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was -37.68% below the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 27th wettest December-February since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 20.94% above the 1971-2000 average.
- Alaska had its 45th wettest January-February since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 7.57% 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.
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)
- Looking at preliminary data, the Northeast was cooler than normal during February. Western areas of New York and Pennsylvania were the coldest, with departures as low as -10 degrees F (-5.6 degrees C). Departures as low as -6 degrees F (-3.3 degrees C) were found in most of the region, except in northern New England (Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire) where departures generally ranged from 0 to -4 degrees F (0 to -2.2 degrees C).
- Preliminary data indicates precipitation totals were mixed across the region. Western Pennsylvania, northern New York, and midcoast Maine were the driest spots. Those areas received 70-90 percent of normal precipitation. West Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic, eastern parts of New York and Pennsylvania, and coastal Massachusetts were the wettest areas. Those spots received 150-300 percent of normal precipitation. Scranton, Pennsylvania, had their snowiest February on record. The site received 29.3 inches (74.4 cm) of snow during the month, beating the old record of 27.9 inches (70.9 cm) set in 1914.
- According to the U.S. Drought Monitor released on February 6, parts of ten of the twelve Northeast states were experiencing abnormal dryness (D0). By mid-month, some areas of D0 had expanded, but the overall coverage of dryness in the Northeast decreased. Small areas of D0 were present in seven states at the end of the month. Overall, the coverage of D0 went from 13 percent of the Northeast at the start of February down to 4 percent by month's end.
- A winter storm moved through the region from February 4-6, dropping up to 19 inches (48.3 cm) of snow and 0.50 inches (1.3 cm) of ice. Around 715,000 of southeastern Pennsylvania energy provider PECO's customers lost power due to the storm, making it the second highest outage total only behind Sandy. Costing $90-120 million, the storm may be the most expensive in PECO's history. Around 42% of flights at Newark Liberty Airport were cancelled on the 6th, with hundreds of other flights cancelled throughout the region during the storm. Another storm from February 11-13 dumped up to 29 inches (73.7 cm) of snow on the region. The storm closed Washington, D.C., area airports and contributed to multiple accidents involving 100 cars on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The weight of the snow also caused numerous roof and barn collapses. From February 15-16, coastal areas of New England were blanketed with up to 20 inches (50.8 cm) of snow and buffeted by strong winds, which caused downed trees, power outages, and travel problems. Severe thunderstorms from February 20-21 caused structural and tree damage across Maryland and West Virginia. The storms also spawned an EF-0 tornado in Maryland, making it only the second February tornado in the state since 1950. Warmer temperatures that accompanied the system also allowed for ice jam flooding on some of the region's waterways.
- 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 across the Midwest. Most of the area north of the Ohio River was 7 to 15 degrees F (4 to 8 C) below normal with the coldest areas near the Upper Mississippi River. Kentucky temperatures ranged from 1 to 7 degrees F (1 to 4 C) below normal. Monthly temperatures were the coldest in decades for six of the nine states in the region and the coldest since 1979 region-wide. The February temperatures were the coldest since 2007 in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, the coldest since 1989 in Missouri and Minnesota, the coldest since 1979 in Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan, and the coldest since 1936 in Wisconsin. The region-wide value ranked as the 11th coldest February (1895-2014) , while state-wide values ranked 6th in Wisconsin, 7th in Iowa, and 8th in Illinois. Kentucky ranked 29th coldest and the remaining five states ranked between 12th and 18th. Winter temperatures were also below normal across the Midwest and the coldest since the winter of 1978-79. The region-wide winter value ranked 8th coldest. All states except Ohio and Kentucky ranked between the 5th and 10th coldest while Ohio ranked 14th and Kentucky 20th out of 119 years.
- February precipitation ranged from less than a quarter inch (6 mm) in western Minnesota to more than 5 inches (127 mm) in southern Kentucky. Compared to normal, the wettest location was in northeast Minnesota where totals of more than double the normal were reported. The driest areas were in western Minnesota and southwest Missouri were precipitation totals were less than 25% of normal. Snowfall in February was above normal for most of the region with just small areas in western Minnesota, southern Kentucky, and Upper Michigan below normal. Across the central Midwest, from Iowa and northern Missouri east to Lake Erie, totals were 10 inches (25 cm) or more above normal. Northeast Minnesota also received 10 inches (25 cm) more than normal for the month. Winter precipitation ranged from less than 50% of normal in parts of western Iowa and western Missouri to more than 200% of normal in northern Minnesota. Totals were generally above normal in the northern and eastern parts of the Midwest and below normal in the southwest. Snowfall for the season was well above normal, two to three times normal, for a wide swath that included southern and extreme eastern Missouri, most of Illinois and Indiana, southeast Michigan, northern Kentucky and the western two-thirds of Ohio. Most of the remaining areas in the region were above normal except in western Minnesota, western Iowa, and southern Kentucky.
- With the cold conditions, many rivers and lakes froze over. In Ohio and Illinois, ice jams caused localized flooding. Ice shoves also occurred on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as winds pushed ice onshore. The Great Lakes froze to greater than 90% coverage for all but Lake Ontario which was more than 50% ice covered. The ice extent on the lakes was last at these levels in 1994. The extensive ice had both good and bad effects. Shipping was hampered by the ice, limiting access to harbors and requiring extensive ice breaking. The ice cover cut down on the evaporation lost to the atmosphere which may help the lake levels rebound from their recent low levels. Ice has also allowed wildlife and people to walk from the mainland to islands. Tourist have flocked to the Apostle Islands to view the ice cave formations and Isle Royale wolves, who have been isolated on the island for years, were able to cross the ice to the mainland.
- A shot of warmer weather on the 19th and 20th set the stage for severe weather in the Midwest. Nearly all severe weather reports in the Midwest came in on the 20th with most in southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and Kentucky. Several tornadoes touched down, large hail was reported, and thunderstorm winds also caused damages. In all seven Midwest states had reports sparing only Minnesota and Michigan.
- 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. The greatest departures were found across the Florida Peninsula, where monthly temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 degrees C) above average. Miami, FL recorded its fifth warmest February in a record extending back to 1895. In contrast, monthly temperatures were 1 to 2 degrees F (0.5 to 1.1 degrees C) below average across much of Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama, while the remainder of the contiguous region was near average for the month. Mean temperatures were generally above average across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in February. San Juan, PR tied its third warmest February in a record extending back to 1898. The end of February also marked the second warmest meteorological winter (December-February) in San Juan, falling just short of the record set back in 1980-1981. In addition, Miami, FL tied its third warmest meteorological winter on record.
- Precipitation was also variable across the Southeast in February. The wettest locations were found across parts of Virginia, Alabama, and northern Florida, where monthly totals were as much as 4 inches (102 mm) above average. In contrast, the driest locations were found across South Florida and coastal sections of Georgia and South Carolina, where less than 2 inches (51 mm) of precipitation was recorded for the month. Precipitation was variable across Puerto Rico and near average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. A major winter storm affected a large portion of the Southeast from the 10th to the 14th of the month. Snowfall totals of 3 to 10 inches (76 to 254 mm) were reported across central and northern portions of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, as well as central and eastern portions of North Carolina and Virginia. The greatest totals were found across western North Carolina and southwest Virginia, where up to 20 inches (508 mm) of snow was recorded. Roanoke, VA recorded 19 inches (483 mm) of snow on the 12th and 13th, which was the fourth highest 2-day snowfall total recorded at that station since 1912. Additionally, a swath of freezing rain extending from central Alabama through southeastern North Carolina resulted in ice accumulations of 0.25 to 0.75 inches (6.4 to 19 mm), with some locations across northern South Carolina recording over an inch (25 mm) of ice. An additional 0.5 to 2 inches (13 to 51 mm) of sleet was also recorded across central and eastern portions of the Carolinas. Millions of customers across the region were without power for several days and considerable damage to tree plantations was noted, though specific losses are still being assessed. Several counties in Georgia and South Carolina have been awarded federal disaster assistance from FEMA to help supplement local recovery efforts from the storm.
- There were 191 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in February, including 14 confirmed tornadoes that occurred as part of an outbreak on the 20th and 21st of the month. One person was injured when an EF-2 tornado tracked through DeKalb County, AL, while another EF-2 tornado tracked across Laurens County, GA. The remaining tornadoes were weak (EF-0 and EF-1) and occurred across northern Alabama, southeast Georgia, eastern North Carolina, and northeast Virginia. Heavy rain, hail, and damaging winds were also reported across the northern half of the region during this outbreak.
- The Southeast remained drought-free in February, with only small pockets of abnormally-dry (D0) conditions reported across extreme southern and extreme northern Alabama by the end of the month. While the cold weather over the past two months reduced the threat of insect pests in crops across Georgia and Alabama, it disrupted the growth of the Vidalia onion crop in southeast Georgia where farmers projected at least a 25 percent loss. Heavy rains across northern Florida led to increased disease pressures during the month, including late blight in tomatoes and potatoes, as well as a decline in pasture conditions and winter wheat development.
- 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 2014 was a cold month for the High Plains Region. Many locations had average temperatures which were lower or similar to January which led to large departures. Even with a mid-month warm up, average temperatures for the majority of the Region were well below normal. Much of North Dakota, northern South Dakota, portions of the Nebraska panhandle, northeastern Colorado, and northern and eastern Wyoming had temperature departures of at least 10.0 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) below normal. Interestingly, these departures were not record breaking but, some locations ranked in the top 25 coldest on record. For instance, Aberdeen, South Dakota had its 7th coldest February on record with an average temperature of 6.6 degrees F (-14.1 degrees C). Although 11.0 degrees F (6.1 degrees C) below normal, this was a far cry from the record of -7.3 degrees F (-21.8 degrees C) which occurred in 1936 (period of record 1893-2014). It should be noted that not all areas of the Region were dealing with the bitter cold this month. Parts of southern Wyoming and western Colorado were actually above normal, with departures up to 6.0 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) in some locations.
- Precipitation was quite varied across the High Plains Region this month. Most areas of the Region had below normal precipitation with southeastern North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota, and southeastern Kansas being the driest. These areas only picked up liquid equivalent precipitation totals that were at most 25 percent of normal. Luckily, winter is a dry time of year for the plains, so these precipitation deficits were not too troublesome. Meanwhile, areas receiving above normal precipitation included western and northern Wyoming, western Colorado, and an area encompassing eastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, and the panhandle of Nebraska. These wetter areas all received liquid equivalent precipitation totals of at least 150 percent of normal. February snowfall rankings indicate that some locations throughout the Region ranked in both the top 10 snowiest and least snowiest on record. Take Fargo, North Dakota and Cheyenne, Wyoming for example. Both sites receive about the same amount of snowfall in February, on average. Although several systems brought a Trace amount of snow, Fargo, North Dakota had its 8th least snowiest February on record with only 1.5 inches (4 cm). This amount was 5.5 inches (14 cm) below normal and not too far off from the record that occurred in February of 1954 with 0.3 inches (1 cm) (period of record 1885-2014). On the other end of the spectrum, Cheyenne, Wyoming had its 4th snowiest February with 19.4 inches (49 cm). This total was 11.5 inches (29 cm) above normal, but not enough to beat out the record of 23.3 inches (59 cm) which occurred back in 1995 (period of record 1883-2014). Even though much of the Region had below normal precipitation, several systems brought snow to the Rockies and improved the snowpack in both Colorado and Wyoming. While southern basins in Colorado were running 15-23 percent below average, other basins were near to above normal which brought Colorado's statewide average at the end of February to 111 percent - up considerably from last month's 94 percent. Meanwhile in Wyoming, the statewide snowpack at the end of the month was 132 percent of average, also up from last month's 113 percent.
- Typical for this time of year, there were only small changes to the U.S. Drought Monitor in the High Plains Region this month. Approximately 23 percent of the Region was in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought at the end of February, which was unchanged from January. While the percentage of area in drought remained about equal, some small areas had improvements and others had degradations. For instance, Wyoming's last remaining D1 areas were eliminated, but D1 in eastern Kansas expanded. The extreme (D3) and exceptional (D4) drought conditions across western Nebraska, western Kansas, and eastern Colorado remained unchanged. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released February 20th, current drought conditions are expected to persist across Colorado and southwestern Kansas through May 2014. Meanwhile, drought conditions may improve or be eliminated in other parts of Kansas and Nebraska. Further drought development is not expected at this time.
- There was strong ridging to the west and troughing to the east across the United States this winter. This pattern led a dichotomy where winter storms frequented the east and warm, dry conditions prevailed in the west. With the exception of portions of Colorado and Wyoming, the majority of the High Plains Region had temperatures which averaged well below normal. Although blasts of cold air were common, the coldest portion of these air masses slipped to the east and impacted places such as Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. For instance, much of the northern and eastern sides of the Region had temperatures which were 4.0-10.0 degrees F (2.2-5.6 degrees C) below normal but, a large area of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin averaged greater than 10.0 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) below normal. It is worth noting that although this winter was not necessarily record breaking, there were many impacts. A deep frost line has been reported in many locations due to a lack of snow cover early in the season and extended cold. This could lead to enhanced runoff chances should these areas get early spring rains. Propane shortages have also impacted the Region, especially those that rely on the fuel for warmth. Unfortunately, at least one death in North Dakota was due to the propane shortage. Producers were also impacted by the shortage as some corn was not dry at the end of the growing season and propane is used to help finish drying the crop. In some places, there will be loss. As for precipitation this winter, much of the Region was below normal however, parts of the Rockies have picked up quite a bit of snow. As such, snowpack has greatly improved in Colorado and Wyoming, especially when compared to last year. One local example was from the popular ski destination of Breckenridge, Colorado which had its 3rd snowiest winter on record with 131.6 inches (334 cm). The record of 182.6 inches (464 cm) from the winter of 1898-1899 held (period of record 1893-2014).
- 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 was generally a colder than normal month for the Southern Region. The highest departures from normal occurred in the northern states of Oklahoma and Arkansas, where temperature anomalies ranged from 4 to 8 degrees F (2.22 to 4.44 degrees C) below normal. Similar anomalies were also observed in the north central counties of Texas, and in western Tennessee. Elsewhere, temperature anomalies ranged from near normal to 4 degrees F (2.22 degrees C) below normal. The only parts of the Southern Region that experienced warmer than normal temperatures was the western panhandle of Texas, and a few counties in central Mississippi, where temperatures varied from normal to 6 degrees F (3.33 degrees C) above normal. The statewide average temperatures for the month are as follows: Arkansas averaged 38.80 degrees F (3.78 degrees C), Louisiana averaged 50.40 degrees F (10.22 degrees C), Mississippi averaged 46.30 degrees F (7.94 degrees C), Oklahoma averaged 36.10 degrees F (2.28 degrees C), Tennessee averaged 38.80 degrees F (3.50 degrees C), and Texas averaged 48.50 degrees F (9.17 degrees C). For Arkansas, it was the nineteenth coldest February on record (1895-2014), while Oklahoma recorded its fourteenth coldest February on record (1895-2014). All other state rankings fell within the two middle quartiles.
- February precipitation in the Southern Region varied spatially with extreme dryness in the western half, and wetter than normal conditions along the south central Gulf coast. In the western half of the region, precipitation totals varied from under 5 percent of normal to 70 percent of normal, with most of Texas and Oklahoma receiving less than half the expected precipitation. This was also the case in northern and northwestern Arkansas. Most stations in the central portion of the region, (including southeastern Texas, northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas) reported precipitation totals that varied from 50 to 70 percent of normal. In Tennessee and northern Mississippi, precipitation totals were generally near normal to slightly below normal. Conversely, conditions were quite wet in southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Precipitation totals there varied from near normal to 200 percent of normal, however, most stations reported between 130 to 150 percent of normal. The statewide average precipitation totals for the month are as follows: Arkansas recorded 2.59 inches (65.79 mm), Louisiana recorded 5.48 inches (139.19 mm), Mississippi recorded 5.94 inches (150.88 mm), Oklahoma recorded 0.42 inches (10.67 mm), Tennessee recorded 4.65 inches (118.11 mm), and Texas recorded 0.70 inches (17.78 mm). For Oklahoma, it was their ninth driest February on record (1895-2014), while for Texas, it was their twentieth driest February on record (1895-2014). All other state rankings fell within the two middle quartiles.
- Drought conditions over the month of February remained relatively unchanged in most states of the Southern Region, although some abnormally dry areas (D0) were added (e.g., north western Arkansas, northern Louisiana, eastern Oklahoma), while others areas saw a reduction in abnormally dry conditions (e.g., northern Mississippi and southern Louisiana, east of the Mississippi River). In Texas, the relatively dry conditions that persisted throughout the month led to the introduction of moderate drought in the central counties.
- There was one day of severe weather in the Southern Region, which occurred on February 20, 2014. In Tennessee and Mississippi, dozens of wind reports were documented by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. There were also some reports of tornadoes in southern Mississippi and south central Tennessee. These occurred in and around Marion County, Mississippi, and in around Franklin County, Tennessee. Some structural damage was reported, however, fortunately there were no reports of injuries or fatalities.
- In Texas, the lack of rainfall helped drought conditions spread rapidly after the last 2 months' dry conditions, causing a slew of new fire risks across central Texas. Water, as usual, remains a problem, holding at 64%, a record low for this time of year. The city of Wichita Falls is nearing the 25% water supply levels that will require the initiation of stage 5 water restrictions preventing any nonessential water usage. A cloud seeding proposal set out last month was approved, allotting $300,000 of the city's budget to the project. Several other cities, including San Antonio, El Paso, and Leander are looking at possible upgrades to their water restrictions as well. A total of 163 counties across the state now qualify for up to $2 million in federal disaster loans due to continuing short and long term drought conditions (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
- In Texas, an ice storm affected much of the state on February 6, with sleet, snow and ice causing problems from Dallas to the northern suburbs of Houston. Hundreds of wrecks were caused by ice buildup on roadways. This winter has been costly for the Texas Department of Transportation. In San Antonio alone the department has spent over $88,000 on de-icing materials to put on roadways. In Austin the local homeless shelters have been full, and emergency shelters have been open twice as much as last winter. While no cost estimates have been announced, Dallas is looking into restructuring their winter weather response protocols after December's ice storm shut down the city for several days (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 Region Climate Center)
- Persistent ridging over the West Coast this winter weakened at times in February, allowing much-needed precipitation to reach the coastal states. Nevertheless, ridging prevailed over the West Coast this month, keeping temperatures warmer than normal over the Southwest and driving moisture into the Rocky Mountain region.
- The coastal states and northern Great Basin finally saw significant precipitation this month after dry conditions dominated for much of the winter season. A tap into subtropical moisture called an atmospheric river provided abundant rain and snow to northern California and southern Oregon between the 7th and 9th. Totals in northern California's coast range exceeded 20 in (508 mm), and over 10 in (254 mm) of rain fell along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. A second atmospheric river pushed moisture into Washington and Oregon from the 12th -16th. Seattle, Washington and Medford, Oregon both saw their 7th wettest Februarys at 6.11 in (155 mm) and 4.55 in (116 mm), respectively. Seattle's records began in 1948 and Medford's in 1911. Further east, Boise, Idaho logged 2.2 in (56 mm) precipitation for the month for its 3rd wettest February in the past 75 years. To the south, Elko, Nevada received 1.92 in precipitation (49 mm) for the month, 229% of normal and the 9th wettest February in a 127-year record. A third atmospheric river favored central and southern California over the last few days of the month with storm totals of 3-4 in (75-100 mm) observed at low elevations and totals in excess of 10 in (254 mm) in the coastal ranges. These storms allowed snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada to increase from 15-20% of normal at the end of January to 30-50% of normal by the end of the February. Snowpack in the northern Cascades reached over 100% of normal at month's end, a significant improvement on the 45-75% of normal observed at the end of January. Drought conditions improved in the Pacific Northwest and northern Great Basin, though expanded in California.
- This winter's wetter than normal conditions continued for the Rocky Mountain region. Billings, Montana saw 37 in (94 cm) of snow this month, 30.8 in (78 cm) above the February normal and the highest February total since records began in 1934. It was also Billings' wettest February on record with a total 2.06 in (52 mm) precipitation, 429% of normal. Missoula, Montana recorded an impressive 40.2 in (102 cm) of snow this month for the second highest February snowfall total in 120 years of records. This February was also Missoula's second wettest with 2.43 in (62 mm). Cold temperatures accompanied the precipitation; Missoula had its 7th coldest February with an average 20.6 F (-6.3 C) and Billings tied for 6th coldest with 18.7 F (-7.4 C). With the exception of their extreme southern extent, snow water equivalent is above average throughout the Rocky Mountains. In contrast, the dry conditions seen in January continued this month in the Southwest. Phoenix, Arizona recorded no measurable precipitation this month, tied for driest February with four other years since 1933. Areas of drought expanded and increased in severity in southern Arizona and eastern New Mexico.
- Ridging over the Southwest this month resulted in warmer than normal temperatures. In southeastern California, several locations logged their highest February temperatures on record. Bishop hit 81 F (27.2 C) on 13th to tie February 27, 1986 for the highest February temperature in a 120-year record. Temperatures soared to 84 F (28.9 C) in Palmdale on both the 13th and 14th, the highest February temperature recorded since records began there in 1934. Fresno recorded its warmest February in a 67-year record with an average 56.8 F (13.8 C). Further east, Tucson, Arizona saw its second warmest February on record with an average 60.7 F (15.9 C). This winter (December-February) was the warmest in Tucson's 85-year record at an average 57.0 F (13.9 C), 3.8 F (2.1 C) above normal.
- Much of Alaska received less than 70% of normal precipitation this month. McGrath tied for 8th driest February in a 74-year record with 0.09 in (2 mm). The eastern Interior and North Slope saw totals slightly above normal. In Hawaii, the greatest positive departures from normal precipitation were observed in the northwestern part of the state. Lihue, Kauai recorded 8.69 in (221 mm) of rainfall this month, 5.53 in (140 mm) above normal and the 5th wettest February since records began in 1950.
- February 7-10: Freezing rain in Portland, Oregon area: Several days of snow followed by freezing rain impacted travel over several days in the Portland area. The storm also caused power outages, falling trees, and prompted school closures.
- February 26-28: Flooding in southern California: Flooding and mudslides prompted evacuations in the Colby Fire burn area near Glendora and closures along the coastal Highway 1 near Malibu and Carmel. Three rescues occurred on the Los Angeles River, and 15,000 Los Angeles area residents were without power for a period during the storm.
- February (all month): Drought conditions persist in California: By February 25, 26% of the state was categorized as D4, "exceptional drought" according the US Drought Monitor. At the beginning of 2014, no portion of the state qualified for this category. Most of this D4 region lies in the central part of the state, which received significant precipitation over the last few days of the month, so it is anticipated improvements will be seen in next week's iteration of the Drought Monitor. Rangelands are in very poor condition and hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land will likely be fallowed this growing season.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.