National Climate Report - February 2018
Maps and Graphics
U.S. Percentage Areas
Supplemental February 2018 Information
- Climate Highlights — February
February Average Temperature Departures
February Percent of Average Precipitation
- The average contiguous U.S. temperature during February was 35.4°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average. This ranked among the warmest third of the 124-year period of record.
- Much-above-average temperatures were observed across the Deep South, Midwest and the East Coast. Eight states in the Southeast and southern New England were record warm and 15 additional states in the East had a top 10 warm February. A significant warm spell impacted the East in late February, with more than 650 all-time monthly temperature records broken or tied.
- Below-average temperatures were observed in the Northwest, Northern Rockies and Northern Plains. Montana had its sixth coldest February on record with a monthly temperature 9.7°F below average. This was the coldest February for the state since 1989.
- The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during February was 46.6°F, 1.8°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Much-above-average maximum temperatures were observed across the East with Florida, Massachusetts and Rhode Island having record warm conditions. Below-average maximum temperatures were observed in the Northern Rockies and Plains.
- The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during February was 24.3°F, 1.4°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Above-average conditions were observed for much of the East were eight states had record warm minimum temperatures. Below-average minimum temperatures were observed in the Northwest, Northern Rockies to Northern and Central Plains.
- The Alaska February temperature was 13.1°F, 8.3°F above the long-term average. This was the 12th warmest February in the 94-year period of record for the state. Western, central and northern Alaska were much warmer than average, with below-average temperatures in the panhandle. St. Paul had its warmest February on record, and Barrow and Cold Bay had their second warmest. Juneau had its coldest February since 1994.
- During February there were 7,306 record warm daily high (3,389) and low (3,917) temperature records, which was more than two times the 3,256 record cold daily high (1,645) and low (1,611) temperature records.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during February was 58 percent below average and the 14th lowest value in the 124-year period of record.
- The February precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.84 inches, 0.71 inch above average. This was the sixth highest February precipitation total on record for the nation and the highest since 1998.
- Record-setting precipitation was observed across the mid- and lower-Mississippi Valley, the Midwest and Northern Rockies. Six states were record wet, and ten additional states had a top 10 monthly precipitation total. The heavy precipitation in the East mostly fell during a one-week period, when a stalled frontal system dropped torrential rainfall, causing part of the Ohio River to crest at the highest level in more than two decades. At least six fatalities were blamed on the flooding.
- In the Northern Rockies, the heavy precipitation and below-average temperatures resulted in record and near-record snowpack.
- Below-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Southeast, Southern Plains and West. California had its third driest February on record with 13.5 percent of average precipitation. This was the driest February for California since 1967. The below-average precipitation in the Southwest was associated with much-below-average snowpack from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Southern Rockies.
- According to NOAA data analyzed by Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the February snow cover extent was 99,600 square miles above the 1981-2010 average and ranked as the 20th highest value in the 52-year period of record. Above-average snow cover was across the Northern Rockies, Central and Northern Plains, and parts of the Northwest and Northeast. Below-average snow cover was observed across the Southwest and the Great Lakes region.
- According to the February 27 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 31.3 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from 38.4 percent at the end of January. Drought conditions improved in the Northern High Plains, Central Plains and Mid-Atlantic, and the South to Mid-Mississippi Valley had dramatic drought improvement. Drought conditions worsened across parts of the West and the Southern High Plains.
- Climate Highlights — winter (December 2017-February 2018)
Dec-Feb Average Temperature Departures
Dec-Feb Percent of Average Precipitation
- The winter (December-February) average contiguous U.S. temperature was 34.0°F, 1.8°F above average, also ranking among the warmest third of the record.
- Above-average winter temperatures were observed across much of the West and along the East Coast. Six states in the Southwest had winter temperatures that were much above average, with some locations being record warm. Cooler-than-average winter temperatures were observed in parts of the Northern High Plains to Central Plains. No state was record warm or record cold.
- The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during December-February was 44.9°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Much-above-average conditions were observed in the Southwest, were Arizona had a record warm winter maximum temperature. Above-average conditions were observed along the East Coast to Midwest. Below-average winter maximum temperatures were recorded in the Central Plains.
- The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during December-February was 23.1F, 1.3°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Above-average conditions were observed across much of the West and along the East Coast. Below-average minimum temperatures were observed in the Northern Rockies to the Central and Southern Plains.
- The Alaska December-February temperature was 12.9°F, 9.3°F above the long-term average, the fourth warmest on record for the state. Much-above-average temperatures spanned the state, with record warmth along the North Slope. Barrow and St. Paul each were record warm, and Bethel, McGrath, Kotzebue and Cold Bay all had a top three warm season.
- The winter precipitation total was 6.26 inches, 0.53 inch below average, and ranked in the driest third of the record. The winter season was marked by regional precipitation extremes.
- Below-average precipitation was observed across much of the West and parts of the Plains and Southeast. Three states in the West and one in the Plains had a top ten dry winter season. Parts of the Southern High Plains were record dry. California had its second driest winter on record, with 33.7 percent of average precipitation. This was the driest winter for the state since 1976/1977. Despite the below-average winter precipitation in the state, the majority of reservoirs are at near-average capacity for the time of year.
- Above-average precipitation fell across the Northern Rockies, Lower Mississippi Valley, Midwest and Northeast. After having its driest autumn on record, Arkansas had its fourth wettest winter on record, with 160 percent of average precipitation. This was the wettest winter for Arkansas since 1949.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) ) for the winter was 15 percent below average and ranked near the median value in the 108-year period of record. Despite the below-average national value, there were elevated extremes in warm maximum temperatures and the spatial extent of dry conditions. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous United States.
- On the regional scale, only the Southwest had a CEI value that ranked in the top 10 for the season. The Southwest CEI value was the seventh highest on record due to extremes in warm maximum and minimum temperatures and the spatial extent of dry conditions. In the South, the component that measures extremes in one-day precipitation totals ranked as the seventh highest on record, while in the Northern Rockies and Plains the number of days with precipitation ranked as the sixth highest on record. In the West, extremes in warm maximum temperatures were the second highest on record.
**A comparison of the national temperature departure from average as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (nClimDiv), the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), and the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is available on our National Temperature Index 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 Centers for Environmental Information.
- Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
- The Northeast experienced many record high temperatures during February. Three states had their warmest February on record, including Connecticut with a departure from normal of 6.0 degrees F (3.3 degrees C), Massachusetts with a departure of 6.4 degrees F (3.6 degrees C), and Rhode Island with a departure of 7.0 degrees F (3.9 degrees C). The average temperature for the region was 32.1 degrees F (0.1 degrees C), 5.9 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) above normal, making it the third warmest February on record for the Northeast. Rankings for the other nine states were second warmest in Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia, third warmest in Pennsylvania, fourth warmest in Maryland, fifth warmest in New Hampshire and New York, sixth warmest in Vermont, and seventh warmest in Maine. State departures for the month ranged from 4.9 degrees F (2.7 degrees C) in Maine to 7.3 degrees F (4.1 degrees C) in West Virginia. On February 20 and 21, high temperatures generally ranged from 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) to 82 degrees F (28 degrees C). There were 20 major climate sites in the Northeast that set or tied their warmest temperatures ever recorded during the month of February. On the 20th, there were 20 major climate sites that set or tied their daily maximum temperature record, and there were 16 climate sites that set or tied daily temperature records on the 21st. For the winter, the average temperature for the Northeast was 26.4 degrees F (-3.1 degrees C), with a departure of 0.4 degrees F (0.2 degrees C) above normal. Average temperatures in the Northeast were pretty close to normal for winter, with state departures from normal for the season ranging from 0.1 degrees F (0.1 degrees C) above normal in Pennsylvania to 1.1 degrees F (0.6 degrees C) above normal in Rhode Island.
- February ended on the wetter side of normal for the Northeast, with 4.32 inches (109.7 mm) of precipitation, 159 percent of normal, making it the seventh wettest February on record. All twelve states experienced a wetter-than-normal February, with states receiving a range of 108 percent of normal precipitation in Maine to 213 percent of normal precipitation in New Jersey. Pennsylvania experienced its wettest February on record with 209 percent of normal precipitation. Seven other states ranked this February among their top 20 wettest on record: West Virginia, second wettest; New Jersey, third wettest; Rhode Island, seventh wettest; Connecticut 11th wettest; Massachusetts, 13th wettest; Maryland, 14th wettest; and Delaware 16th wettest. The Northeast received 10.26 inches (260.6 mm) of precipitation during winter, which was 110 percent of normal. The two states that were drier than normal were Maryland and Delaware, with the other 10 being wetter than normal. Winter precipitation ranged from 83 percent of normal in Maryland to 122 percent of normal in Maine.
- At the beginning of February, 21 percent of the Northeast was abnormally dry, particularly northern New Jersey, along with eastern New York and part of Pennsylvania. Five percent of the region was moderately dry, mainly in eastern Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland and about one percent of the region was experiencing a severe drought, in central Maryland. The wetter-than-normal conditions throughout the month drastically improved the drought conditions, leaving just 2 percent of the Northeast under abnormally dry conditions and a small area of moderate drought in Maryland.
- A storm on February 7 brought up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) of snow to parts of New York, western Pennsylvania and northern New England, while southern and eastern parts of the region received up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) of ice accumulation. A combination of warm temperatures, heavy rain, and snowmelt caused flooding in the region several times during the month. For instance, from February 10 to 12, parts of eastern Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia saw over three inches (76.2 mm) of rain, leading to flooding. Later in the month, from February 21 to 22, flooding led to closed roads, water rescues, flooded homes, and evacuations in parts of northern New York and Vermont. On February 15, an EF-1 tornado travelled for two miles through Fayette County, Pennsylvania before lifting. According to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, this is the 'first confirmed tornado in the Pittsburgh area of responsibility since 1950 when records commenced' and the third year in a row at least one tornado has hit Pennsylvania in the month of February. Pending verification, Erie, Pennsylvania had their snowiest winter on record, beating their old record of 126.0 inches (320.0 cm) set in winter 1977-78.
- For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
- February precipitation set a new record for the Midwest with more than double the normal February total. This easily broke the previous record from 1908 (period of record 1895 to present). Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana also set new statewide February records while Ohio ranked 2nd and both Michigan and Kentucky ranked 3rd. Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all ranked among the wettest 25 percent of their histories. In the first half of the month only two areas had above normal precipitation, from Iowa to southern Michigan and across much of Kentucky to southeastern Ohio. The wettest area was in southeastern Kentucky where totals were above 200 percent of normal. In the latter half of the month, totals were above average for nearly the entire region, with areas exceeding twice the normal amount in all nine states. Greater than half of region had totals over 200 percent of normal and areas from southern Missouri to southwestern Michigan and along the Ohio River had four to five times normal precipitation. The winter was slightly above normal, 109 percent, with the drier December offsetting the wetness from February. Seasonal values ranged from about 50 percent of normal in northwestern Missouri to just over 150 percent of normal where the Michigan-Indiana border meets Lake Michigan.
- February temperatures ranged from as much as 8 degrees F (4 C) below normal in the northwestern parts of the region to as much as 8 degrees F (4 C) above normal in the southeastern portions of the region. February in Ohio (4th) and Kentucky (6th) ranked among the warmest in their respective histories (1895-2018). The spatial contrast across the Midwest was matched by big swings in temperatures during the month. Early in the month, temperatures were very cold but by the end of the month they rose to well above normal in the southeastern half of the region. Some stations in Indiana and Ohio hade more than 75 degrees F (42 C), or even 80 degrees F (44 C), between the coldest value from earlier in the month to the highest temperature of February during the very warm last week of the month. For the winter season (December-February) temperatures were slightly below normal in the northwestern third of the region and near normal for the rest of the Midwest. Several swings of very warm and very cold temperature largely offset leaving the winter average near normal.
- Heavy rains in the last two weeks of the month brought widespread flooding to the southern and eastern Midwest. Record flooding in northern Indiana in the Kankakee basin was due to the big rains, frozen ground, and snow melt all combining to push river levels above the old record. The Yellow River at Plymouth, Indiana crested more than a foot above the previous record and stayed above the previous record stage for days. Moderate to major flooding also occurred on the Ohio River. The lower portions of the river rose to the highest level since 2011 and the mid-section of the river rose its highest level since 1997. More than 1000 structures were affected by the Ohio River flooding alone. Kentucky declared a statewide emergency due to flooding and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri also had been declared disasters. Across the Midwest, there were at least five fatalities due to the flooding and numerous rescues were performed to save others.
- February snow totals were well above normal in Minnesota and along a swath from northwestern Iowa, across northern Illinois, and into southeastern Michigan and well below average for the rest of the region. On the 5th to the 7th, a snow system moved across the region from Iowa to northern Indiana with totals up to 10 inches (25 cm). Hundreds of accidents in Iowa, including a 50-vehicle pileup on I-35, were responsible for at least nine fatalities. Just behind that system, another slow moving system tracked from Iowa to southern Michigan on the 8th to the 12th. Storm totals topped 15 inches (38 cm) in parts of Illinois and Michigan. Between the two systems, Chicago had a stretch of nine straight days, February 3rd to 11th, with at least 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) of snow each day, the longest such stretch in its history. On the 23rd through the 25th, while heavy rains fell to the southeast, snow blanketed Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Widespread totals of 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) were reported with a few totals topping 17 inches (43 cm).
- Drought intensified in the first half of the month in Missouri, reaching extreme levels across about 5 percent of the state, the largest expanse of extreme drought in the state since 2012. The heavy rains in the latter half of the month led to improvements in conditions and all extreme and severe drought was removed from Missouri by the end of the month. The lack of any severe drought in the region last occurred briefly in October of last year. Overall drought coverage fell to under 5 percent of the region in late February marking the smallest footprint for Midwest drought since last July.
- For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures were well above average across the Southeast region (excluding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), with numerous record-breaking extremes observed during February. Collectively, the Southeast region observed its warmest February since records began in 1895. Every state in the region observed its warmest February on record except Virginia, which recorded its second warmest February. Monthly mean temperatures were at least 8 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) above average for approximately 70 percent of the 216 long-term (i.e., period of record equaling or exceeding 50 years) stations across the region. Nearly half (106 of 216) of the long-term stations observed or tied their highest February mean temperature on record, with many stations surpassing previous records that were set in 1927 and 1932. At least fourteen of these stations were found in every state except Virginia, including Mobile, AL (1874-2018; +11.3 degrees F above average, +6.3 degrees C above average), Columbia, SC (1888-2018; +11.3 degrees F), Columbus, GA (1899-2018; +11.2 degrees F, +6.2 degrees C), Pensacola, FL (1880-2018; +11.2 degrees F), and Charlotte, NC (1879-2018; +10.6 degrees F, +5.9 degrees C). Similar to February 2017, nearly every major city across the region observed a February mean temperature that exceeded its 30-year (1981-2010) mean temperature for March, including Fort Myers, FL (+5.0 degrees F above its March mean temperature, +2.8 degrees C above its March mean temperature), Savannah, GA (+4.3 degrees F, +2.4 degrees C), Montgomery, AL (+4.2 degrees F, +2.3 degrees C), Charleston, SC (+3.9 degrees F, +2.2 degrees C), Asheville, NC (+3.2 degrees F, +1.8 degrees C), and Norfolk, VA (+1.8 degrees F, +1 degrees C). It is especially outstanding that several locations in central and southern Florida recorded a February mean temperature that exceeded their 30-year mean temperature for April, including Melbourne (+3.0 degrees F above its April mean temperature, +1.7 degrees C above its April mean temperature), Tampa (+2.5 degrees F, +1.4 degrees C), and West Palm Beach (+1.3 degrees F, +0.7 degrees C). The persistence of daytime and nighttime warmth was exceptional for many locations during the month. Numerous long-term stations across the region observed their highest count of February days with a maximum temperature at or above 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C), including Tampa, FL (1891-2018; 23 days), Melbourne, FL (1938-2018; 21 days), Jacksonville, FL (1872-2018; 16 days), Savannah, GA (1874-2018; 12 days), Mobile, AL (10 days), Charleston, SC (1939-2018; 8 days), and Macon, GA (1900-2018; 7 days). In addition, all of these stations surpassed their previous record by at least 3 days. From the 10th through the 28th, several long-term stations in the Carolinas and Virginia observed their longest February streak of 19 consecutive days with a minimum temperature exceeding 32 degrees F (0 degrees C), including Washington, D.C. (1872-2018), Richmond, VA (1897-2018), Elizabeth City, NC (1934-2018), Raleigh-Durham International Airport, NC (1945-2018), Columbia Metropolitan Airport, SC (1948-2018), and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, SC (1963-2018). During the month, a total of 47 long-term stations observed or tied their highest daily maximum temperature on record for February. Thirty-eight of these stations observed or tied their highest daily maximum temperature on record for meteorological winter (December-February), including Sarasota-Bradenton, FL (1911-2018; 90 degrees F, 32.2 degrees C), Savannah, GA (87 degrees F, 30.6 degrees C), Roanoke, VA (1912-2018; 84 degrees F, 28.9 degrees C), and Charlotte, NC (82 degrees F, 27.8 degrees C). In addition, a total of 108 long-term stations observed or tied their highest daily minimum temperature on record for February. Forty-one of these stations were located in North Carolina, including Wilmington (1875-2018; 68 degrees F, 20 degrees C), Greensboro (1903-2018; 62 degrees F, 16.7 degrees C), and Asheville (1877-2018; 60 degrees F, 15.6 degrees C). The warmest weather of the month across the Southeast occurred from the 20th through the 25th, as the circulation around the Bermuda High, situated off the Atlantic coast, transported unseasonably warm, humid air over the region. Daily maximum temperatures exceeded 80 degrees F in portions of every state, with a few locations in central and southern Florida reaching 90 degrees F or higher. In addition, multiple stations in every state recorded daily minimum temperatures of at least 60 degrees F, with numerous locations in Florida remaining at or above 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C. In contrast, the coldest weather of the month occurred on the 3rd, as a polar high pressure system ushered in seasonably cold air from the northwest. Daily minimum temperatures fell below 32 degrees F as far south as northern Florida, with broad portions of North Carolina and Virginia reaching 20 degrees F (-6.7 degrees C) or lower. Monthly mean temperatures were near average in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Precipitation was well above normal in northern and western portions of the Southeast during February, while southern and eastern portions of the region recorded well-below-normal precipitation. The driest locations were found across much of the Florida Peninsula, as well as portions of east-central and southeastern Georgia, the southern half of South Carolina, eastern North Carolina, and southeastern Virginia. Monthly precipitation totals ranged from 50 to less than 5 percent of normal in these areas. Several long-term stations observed February precipitation totals that were ranked within their three lowest values on record, including West Palm Beach, FL (1889-2018; 0.18 inches, 4.6 mm), Sanford, FL (1949-2018; 0.26 inches, 6.6 mm), Daytona Beach, FL (1923-2018; 0.34 inches, 8.6 mm), and Florence Regional Airport, SC (1948-2018; 0.87 inches, 22.1 mm). In contrast, unusual wetness was found across portions of northern and western Virginia, western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, northern and southwestern Georgia, northern and southeastern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Monthly precipitation totals were 150 to 300 percent of normal in these areas. A few long-term stations observed February precipitation totals that were ranked within their five highest values on record, including Muscle Shoals, AL (1893-2018; 12.56 inches, 319 mm), Jasper 1 NNW, GA (1938-2018; 10.35 inches, 263 mm), Grundy, VA (1950-2018; 7.82 inches, 199 mm), and Lynchburg, VA (1893-2018; 5.72 inches, 145 mm). From the 10th through the 11th, a slow-moving frontal boundary produced heavy rainfall across portions of every state in the region, with the greatest 2-day precipitation totals of 5 to more than 10 inches (127 to more than 254 mm) occurring in parts of southern Alabama, southwestern Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. On the 11th, three airport stations in the Florida Panhandle recorded more than 6 inches (152 mm) of rainfall, including Marianna Municipal Airport (6.77 inches, 172 mm), Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (6.58 inches, 167 mm), and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (6.30 inches, 160 mm) near Panama City. In addition, several long-term stations in central and western Virginia observed their wettest February day on record, including Wise 1 SE (1956-2018; 3.74 inches, 95 mm), Appomattox (1938-2018; 2.73 inches, 69.3 mm), and Buckingham (1895-2018; 2.71 inches, 68.8 mm). Lynchburg, VA (1893-2018) observed its highest 2-day precipitation total on record for February, with 3.72 inches (94.5 mm). Robertsdale, AL (1913-2018) and Brevard, NC (1902-2018) observed their third highest 2-day precipitation total on record for February, with 6.42 and 4.70 inches (163 and 119 mm), respectively. Flooding from this heavy rainfall resulted in road closures across portions of Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, and Virginia, while a rock slide blocked a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. During February, measurable snowfall was confined to northern and western Virginia, as well as the higher elevations of western North Carolina. Some of the climatologically snowiest locations in these areas recorded well-below-normal snowfall totals, including Boone, NC (0.1 inches, 2.5 mm), Charlottesville 2 W, VA (0.6 inches, 15.2 mm), Blacksburg, VA (1.4 inches, 35.6 mm), Washington Dulles International Airport, VA (1.6 inches, 40.6 mm), and Mt. Mitchell, NC (11.0 inches, 279 mm). On the 4th, a low pressure system produced a swath of freezing rain extending from northeastern Georgia to northern Virginia. At least a tenth of an inch of freezing rain was observed in portions of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, but the greatest ice accumulations of two tenths to one quarter of an inch (5.1 to 6.4 mm) were generally confined to central and western North Carolina. Thousands of power outages and numerous vehicle accidents were caused by the icy conditions in these areas, while departing flights were temporarily grounded at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. On the following morning, black ice resulted in dozens of additional roadway crashes in the Richmond, VA and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, including a 16-vehicle pileup in Northwest D.C.
- There were only 42 severe weather reports across the Southeast during February, which is less than half of the median monthly frequency of 95 reports during 2000-2016. All of the severe weather reports were recorded across the southern portion of the region, including 24 in Alabama, 13 in Georgia, and 5 in Florida. Two thirds (28 of 42) of these reports occurred during a severe weather event on the 7th. A total of 13 tornadoes (10 EF-0s and 3 EF-1s) were confirmed across the region during the month, which is nearly double the median frequency of 7 tornadoes observed during February. On the 7th, an EF-1 tornado tracked 11.5 miles across Marengo and Hale Counties in Alabama, with a maximum path width exceeding half of a mile. Several mobile homes sustained damage, including a single-wide mobile home that was destroyed after being lofted about 30 feet downwind. Later that day, an EF-0 tornado touched down in Chilton County, AL and removed a large portion of a church's metal roof. In addition, the strong tornadic winds toppled numerous trees, which caused significant damage to mobile homes near the town of Jemison. On the 4th, non-convective wind gusts approaching 50 mph in Charleston, SC caused a flagpole to blow over and strike a nearby vehicle, injuring the driver inside. On the 13th, a non-convective wind gust of 51 mph was observed at Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, PR, which is its highest recorded wind gust during February from 1996-2018.
- Significant drought improvement occurred across the Southeast during February, with only 13 percent of the region remaining in moderate (D1) drought at the end of the month. Well-above-normal precipitation during the first half of the month eliminated severe-to-extreme (D2-D3) drought coverage from the region, including over 46 percent of Alabama, 22 percent of Georgia, all of the Florida Panhandle, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. By the end of February, South Carolina was the only drought-free (i.e., less than D1) state in the Southeast, but the coverage of moderate drought fell below 30 percent in the other five states across the region. Predominantly warm, wet weather during the month was beneficial for the growth and green-up of small grains, pastures, and hayfields across much of the region, allowing some livestock producers to reduce supplemental feeding for their cattle. However, pastures in central and southern Florida remained stressed by a lack of precipitation. Similar to February 2017, unseasonably warm temperatures caused fruit trees to bud and bloom prematurely, which increases their vulnerability to a damaging spring freeze. Excessive precipitation delayed the preparation of crop fields for spring planting in portions of Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia. In northern Florida, heavy rainfall during early February disrupted the planting of vegetable crops and washed away fertilizer from livestock pastures. A prevalence of foggy mornings during mid-to-late February increased disease pressure on some vegetable crops in southern Florida, with a mold known as late blight spotted on tomatoes and potatoes.
- For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center )
- The last month of the winter season was cold for most of the High Plains region, particularly in the western Dakotas where temperatures ranged from 10.0-15.0 degrees F (5.6-8.3 degrees C) below normal. The cooler temperatures led to several locations breaking records, including Chadron, Nebraska and Rapid City, South Dakota, which had their coolest Februarys on record. Areas of North Dakota and Wyoming made the list of top 10 coolest Februarys as well. The last time record-breaking, below-normal monthly average temperatures were widespread throughout the High Plains was August 2017. Areas that were cold and wet had a snowy month, such as North Platte, NE, Pierre, SD, Rapid City, SD, and Casper, WY. However, cold and dry conditions in areas like North Dakota caused deep frost depths, which prompted concerns over possible damage to water mains.
- Dryness continued in February throughout Kansas and parts of Colorado, causing drought to intensify. In Colorado, snows helped to reduce seasonal snowfall deficits, but these amounts were not enough to improve conditions. This resulted in drought intensification in the southwestern portion of the state. Mounting precipitation deficits in Kansas caused drought to further spread and intensify across the state. Topsoil moisture and winter wheat conditions were not faring well in Kansas at the end of February. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, 76 percent of the topsoil was rated short to very short, and 50 percent of the winter wheat was rated poor to very poor condition. In the Dakotas, where drought has been present in some areas since late spring 2017, producers are preparing for a possible second consecutive year of drought. For instance, the North Dakota State Water Commissioner's Office authorized another $500,000 to be used for the Livestock Water Assistance Program, and the state will assist in hauling feed earlier and in higher quantity this year compared to last year. In western South Dakota, the primary concerns were low stock ponds, poor winter wheat conditions, and increased fire activity.
- February was cool for the majority of the High Plains, particularly in the eastern part of the region. Temperature departures increased from south to north, ranging from 1.0-3.0 degrees F (0.6-1.7 degrees C) below normal across Kansas to as much as 10.0-15.0 degrees F (5.6-8.3 degrees C) below normal across the western Dakotas. Locations across the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Wyoming ranked in the top 10 of coolest Februarys, with Chadron, Nebraska and Rapid City, South Dakota setting new records as the coldest. On the other hand, southwestern Wyoming and the western half of Colorado experienced slightly above-normal temperatures in February.
- Winter temperatures followed a similar pattern to February: warm in the southwestern part of the High Plains and cool elsewhere. This pattern was a result of a persistent ridge in the western U.S., which allowed outbreaks of cold air to spill into the northern and central High Plains. This pattern resulted in several records for both warmest and coolest winters. For instance, Alamosa, Colorado had its 2nd warmest winter on record, and it was the 8th warmest for Laramie and Rawlins in Wyoming; however, Rapid City, South Dakota experienced its 8th coolest winter on record. The presence of La Niña conditions also likely played a role in the below-normal temperatures experienced by the Northern Plains during winter.
- Coupled with the lack of snow cover this winter, below-normal temperatures continued to maintain deep frost depths in some locations. For instance, frost depth exceeded 100 cm in parts of the Dakotas in February. The deep frost depths caused damage to water mains in South Dakota and Nebraska during February. February yielded both wet and dry conditions throughout the High Plains. On the wet end of the precipitation spectrum, much of Wyoming, South Dakota, northern Nebraska, and pockets of Colorado received 150-400 percent of normal precipitation. Top 10 records for both wettest and snowiest February were set in these areas, which included the following: Sheridan, WY (tied for 3rd wettest); Rapid City, SD (4th snowiest); Pierre, SD (6th wettest and 6th snowiest); Casper, WY (6th snowiest); and North Platte, NE (8th snowiest).
- Meanwhile, it was quite dry throughout North Dakota, Kansas, and southeastern Colorado. The driest area was southwestern Kansas, which received less than 5 percent of normal precipitation. Several top 10 records for driest February were set in this area. For instance, Garden City tied multiple years for its driest February on record, while Liberal tied several years for its 4th driest. While snowfall was scarce in some of these locations, the lack of snowfall was not record-breaking for the month of February.
- As for winter precipitation, northern and southern areas of the High Plains were dry, while the central part of the region was wet. Wetter areas included a swath from Wyoming to the east and southeast into western South Dakota and western and central Nebraska, where precipitation exceeded 200 percent of normal in some locations. The following top 10 records for wettest or snowiest winter were set: North Platte, NE (snowiest); Casper, WY (4th wettest and 4th snowiest); Sheridan, WY (7th wettest); and Rapid City, SD (7th snowiest).
- Drier conditions were in place across North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota, as well as throughout southern Wyoming and much of Colorado and Kansas, where little precipitation fell during the winter. Southern and western Kansas was hit the hardest, with the following locations setting records for a top 10 driest or least snowiest winter: Salina (2nd driest), Wichita (3rd driest and 5th least snowiest), and Dodge City (5th driest and 5th least snowiest). Season-to-date snowfall in parts of Kansas has also been lacking. From July-February, only 1.0 inch (3 cm) of snow fell in Wichita, which tied 1999 for the 2nd least snowiest July-February on record. Dodge City was not much better off, with only 1.4 inches (4 cm) of snowfall and the 4th least snowiest July-February on record. Snowpack in the Northern Rockies continued to fare well in February. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there were slight increases in snowpack in the Upper Missouri River Basin since last month. Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in the Basin above Fort Peck Reservoir and between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs was 129% and 135%, respectively, as of the end of February. Snowpack was still above normal in the Rockies of Wyoming. Meanwhile, Colorado snowpack improved slightly over the month in some locations but remained well below normal. In the Plains, snowfall in the northern part of the region deepened the snowpack in North Dakota and covered the ground in South Dakota, which was bare at the end of January. Kansas, eastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and much of Nebraska except the northern tier of the state were snow-free at the end of February.
- Both improvements and degradations in drought conditions occurred across the High Plains in February, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Overall, the area experiencing abnormal dryness or drought (D0-D4) decreased from 78 percent to 69 percent, thanks to wet conditions across central portions of the region. However, drought intensified in the southern High Plains. Drought conditions continued to worsen in parts of Colorado and Kansas, which have been drier than normal since the fall. The snowpack situation in southwestern Colorado was dire, and conditions warranted the introduction of extreme drought (D3) into the area. Much of Kansas missed out on precipitation in February that would have improved the drought situation. As a result, moderate drought (D1), severe drought (D2), and D3 conditions spread across the state. The drought situation left producers very concerned about available moisture as winter wheat emerges from dormancy. Another concern is the potential for above-normal spring fire activity, particularly across western North Dakota and western and southern Kansas.
- On the other hand, beneficial precipitation helped to improve drought conditions across southwestern Nebraska, southeastern Wyoming, and northeastern Colorado. D1 was removed from southwestern Nebraska and northeastern Colorado, as well as abnormal dryness (D0) in southeastern Wyoming. These areas received welcomed snowfall during the early part of February.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- February temperatures had a defined gradient throughout the Southern Region. In northern Oklahoma and a small area of northern Texas temperatures were 3 to 6 degrees F (1.67 to 3.33 degrees C) below normal. Most of Oklahoma and northern Texas had slightly below normal temperatures. In contrast, southeastern Louisiana, eastern Tennessee, central and southern Mississippi, and a small part of eastern Texas were 9 to 12 degrees F (5 to 6.67 degrees C) above normal. Central Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and southwestern, southern, central, and northeastern Louisiana were 6 to 9 degrees F (3.33 to 5 degrees C) above normal. The statewide monthly average temperatures were as follows: Arkansas–45.60 degrees F (7.56 degrees C), Louisiana–60.30 degrees F (15.72 degrees C), Mississippi–56.80 degrees F (13.78 degrees C), Oklahoma–40.50 degrees F (4.72 degrees C), Tennessee–48.40 degrees F (9.11 degrees C), and Texas–52.20 degrees F (11.22 degrees C). The statewide temperature rankings for February were as follows: Arkansas (thirty-seventh warmest), Louisiana (fourth warmest), Mississippi (fourth warmest), Oklahoma (fifty-fifth coldest), Tennessee (third warmest), and Texas (twenty-eight warmest). All state rankings are based on the period spanning 1895-2018.
- Precipitation values for the month of February varied spatially throughout the Southern Region. Parts of eastern Texas, central Louisiana, southeastern Oklahoma, western Tennessee, northwestern Mississippi, and central, northeastern, and western Arkansas received 300 percent or more of normal precipitation. Northern Louisiana, northeastern and eastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma, western and central Tennessee, northern and central Mississippi, and northern, eastern, and southern Arkansas received 200–300 percent of normal precipitation. In contrast, parts of western Oklahoma and northern and southwestern Texas received 5 percent or less of normal precipitation. Parts of northern, western, central, and southern Texas, northwestern Oklahoma, and extreme southeastern Louisiana received 5–50 percent of normal precipitation. The state-wide precipitation totals for the month were as follows: Arkansas–11.67 inches (296.42 mm), Louisiana–8.05 inches (204.47 mm), Mississippi–10.42 inches (264.67 mm), Oklahoma–3.92 inches (99.57 mm), Tennessee–10.56 inches (268.22 mm), and Texas–2.38 inches (60.45 mm). The state precipitation rankings for the month were as follows: Arkansas (first wettest), Louisiana (eighth wettest), Mississippi (second wettest), Oklahoma (fourth wettest), Tennessee (first wettest), and Texas (seventeenth wettest). All state rankings are based on the period spanning 1895-2018.
- Over the month of February 2018, extreme drought conditions expanded throughout parts of western Oklahoma and northern Texas. Severe drought conditions remained present in central Oklahoma, and northern and central Texas. Moderate drought conditions expanded throughout southern, central, and western Texas, and central and northeastern Oklahoma. Southeastern Tennessee, central Mississippi, northeastern and extreme southeastern Louisiana, northern Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and western, northern, central, and southern Texas are classified as abnormally dry. In contrast, conditions improved from extreme to no drought in central Arkansas.
- In February, there were nine days with severe weather throughout the region. There were 103 severe weather events (11 tornadoes, 75 wind, and 17 hail events) reported throughout the Southern Region. Eight of the tornado events and 52 of the wind events occurred in Arkansas and Tennessee on February 24. The February 24 event also injured eight people, seven in Tennessee and one in Arkansas. The majority of hail events occurred on February 6 in Texas and Mississippi.
- On February 6, 2018, two tornadoes were reported, one in Louisiana and one in Mississippi. A tornado in Vernon, Louisiana caused pine trees to be snapped along the tornado's path. Six hail events were reported throughout Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Seven wind events were reported in Mississippi.
- On February 10, 2018, one tornado was reported in Neshoba, Mississippi. The tornado blew out the doors and some insulation from a large metal shop.
- On February 19, 2018, two severe wind events were reported in Johnson, Texas. The wind caused damage to three to five mobile homes.
- On February 20, 2018, nine severe wind events were reported in Texas and Arkansas. In Sevier, Arkansas, trees were downed and tangled in powerlines.
- On February 21, 2018, one hail event occurred in Jefferson, Mississippi, and two wind events occurred, one in Louisiana and one in Mississippi. A wind event in La Salle, Louisiana caused downed trees on Highway 84.
- On February 22, 2018, one-inch hail was reported in Franklin, Texas.
- On February 24, 2018, eight tornadoes occurred causing seven injuries in Tennessee and one injury in Arkansas. In Obion, Tennessee, three people were injured, ten people were rescued from several damaged homes, and three people were transferred to nearby hospitals. In Clay, Arkansas, one person died from a tornado. There were also 52 wind event reports between Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. In Poinsett, Arkansas, a wind gust of 70 mph (112.65 kph) was reported.
- On February 25, 2018, three hail and two wind events were reported in Texas. In Wilson, Texas, ping-pong sized hail was reported.
- On February 28, 2018, three wind events were reported throughout Texas and Louisiana. A wind event in Caddo, Louisiana caused a utility pole to be snapped.
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
- February produced well above normal precipitation in the interior Northwest including Montana and northern Idaho. Wet conditions were also found in southern Arizona and New Mexico. Strong high pressure persisted for much of the month near the West Coast or further north in the Gulf of Alaska leading to well below normal precipitation in California, Nevada, and Oregon. Temperatures were slightly to much above normal in the Southwest and well below normal in Montana and northeast Wyoming.
- An active storm track during the first three weeks of February produced copious precipitation amounts, particularly in Montana and northern Wyoming. Gillette, Wyoming saw the second wettest February on record with 1.57 in (39.88 mm), 266% of normal, with records beginning in 1905. Billings, Montana recorded 1.66 in (42.16 mm), 346% of normal, making it the 4th wettest dating back to 1935. These storms were also associated with cold, Arctic air and produced well above average snowfall. Billings, Montana received 32.4 in (823 mm) of snow making it the 2nd snowiest February on record. Many of the high elevation SNOTEL stations in Wyoming and Montana were reporting snow water equivalent values at greater than 200% of normal by the end of February. At the Wolverine SNOTEL site in northwest Wyoming 7.1 in (180 mm) of snow water equivalent accumulated during February with a value of 18.5 in (470 mm) at the end of the month, ranking as the highest end of February snow water equivalent in the records back to 1981. In contrast to the interior Northwest, California was dry throughout the month. Whiskeytown Reservoir, in northern California logged 0.02 in (0.51), 0.18% of normal, setting a new record as the driest February dating back to 1960. Shasta Dam, California came in as the 2nd driest with 0.13 in (3.3 mm), 1% of normal, with records beginning in 1943. Western Nevada also experienced a dry February; Reno recorded 0.20 in (5 mm) of precipitation, 20% of normal and Tonopah received 0.05 in (1.27 mm), 10% of normal.
- Temperatures across much of the West didn't stray too far from normal during February. This was largely a result of a warm start to the month with a ridge axis centered off the coast of Washington. The ridge then shifted north and west to the Gulf of Alaska allowing a cold, Arctic air mass to penetrate into the western states. Thus, for much of the West, the first half of the month saw above normal temperatures while the end of the month was below normal resulting in near average monthly temperatures. The exception to this was the interior Northwest where temperatures were much below normal. Sheridan, Wyoming set a new record for coldest February at 13.3 F (-10.4 C), 13.3 F (7.4 C) below normal, with records back to 1941. Billings, Montana saw a monthly temperature of 15.8 F (-9 C), 14.2 F (8.11 C) below normal, and the 3rd coldest on record dating back to 1935. Southwest New Mexico was one location that saw well above normal temperatures. Las Cruces saw monthly temperature of 52 F (11.1 C), 3.9 F (2.2 C) above average; the 5th warmest back to 1892.
- Across California, the Great Basin, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico snowpack remains in poor shape due to warm and dry conditions with most basins indicating less than 50% of median snow water equivalent. Most of Washington, northern Idaho, Montana, and northern Wyoming have a solid snowpack at greater than 100% of median with some basins in Montana and Wyoming over 150% of median.
- Since the start of February, drought has expanded in the US Drought Monitor by one category in many Western states, with 46% of the region (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) in drought and 3% of the region in extreme drought (D3). This D3 region includes parts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Some parts of northern Montana saw a two-category improvement in drought conditions, completely removing all drought status, due to the exceptionally wet month.
- In Alaska, temperatures were far above normal in the north and slightly below normal in the south and southeast. Barrow saw only the second ever above zero monthly average at 4 F (-15.6 C), 18.2 F (10.1 C) above normal and the 2nd warmest on record back to 1902. Most of Hawaii saw a wet and stormy pattern that persisted for much of the month resulting above normal precipitation across the entire island chain. In Honolulu 9.42 in (239 mm), 332% of normal, fell resulting in the 3rd wettest February on record back to 1950. Hana, Maui, received 9.51 in (242 mm), 194% of normal.
- Late February: Flash Flooding, Oahu, Hawaii: During a series of strong storms flash flooding occurred in Windward Oahu. Near Maunawili, 2.13 in (54 mm) of rain fell on February 25 after the ground was already saturated from a 4.17 in (106 mm) event that occurred on February 18. Kamehameha Highway and other roads were closed due to flooding, schools were opened as shelters for stranded motorists, and many power outages occurred. A 74-year-old man lost his life after his home blew off its foundation.
- February, all month: Low snowpack continues to impact recreation: Sierra Nevada, California and New Mexico: The lack of snow throughout February caused downhill and cross-country ski areas to close early, or fail to open for the season. On February 21 the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area in the Sierra Nevada issued a statement saying there is not enough snow to open the resort during the 2017-18 season. The resort is offering refunds or vouchers for 2018-19 season passes to all pass holders. Throughout February, Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Area near Lake Tahoe, the largest cross-country resort in North America, was unable to open due to a lack of snow. Shasta Ski Park in northern California had to temporarily close due to a lack of snow and warm weather. Ski Apache on Sierra Blanca Mountain in New Mexico has only recorded 37 inches of snow for the season and a local business says sales are down 75%.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.