February 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary
February 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary
February featured several notable extreme weather events including an exceptional blizzard in the U.S. Northeast, record heat in parts of Africa, southern China and Southeast Asia and a powerful tropical cyclone in southwestern Madagascar. Athens, Greece experienced a deadly flash flood.
Below are some of the month’s highlights.
The big event of the month in the U.S. was the extraordinary snowstorm that pounded southern New England on February 8-9. Dubbed winter storm 'Nemo’ by the Weather Channel, the blizzard was the worst to occur in Connecticut and central Long Island since the iconic Blizzard of 1888. A peak snowfall of 40” (102 cm) was measured at Hamden, Connecticut, the greatest single-storm snowfall the state has seen since 55” (140 cm) fell at Middletown on March 12-14, 1888. For more details about this historic storm see my blog on the subject posted last month as well as Jeff Master’s blog on the same subject.
Boston (pictured above) measured 24.9” of snow from the blizzard of February 8-9, its 5th greatest single snowstorm on record. Portland, Maine picked up 31.9” at its Jetport location, the site’s greatest snowstorm ever recorded. Parts of Connecticut reported 8”/hr rates of accumulation with thunder snow at one point during the storm. Photographer not identified, image from Bostinno.com web site.
Another notable blizzard pounded the Texas Panhandle and portions of Oklahoma on February 24-25 bringing Amarillo, Texas its 2nd greatest 24-hour snowfall on record with a 19.0” (48.3 cm) accumulation.
On February 10th a violent EF-4 tornado carved a path through Hattiesburg and Oak Grove, Mississippi. The twister destroyed or damaged hundreds of structures and injured 82 but miraculously, given the extensive damage, no one was killed.
A still from a video taken of the EF-4 Hattiesburg tornado that struck the city on February 10th. Image from livestormsnow.com
The drought situation markedly improved in the Southeast U.S. but remained stable in the Plains region. Charleston, South Carolina reported its wettest February on record with 10.47” (266 mm), this following its driest January on record when only 0.35” (9 mm) was measured. According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center this was the first time on record that a record wet month followed a record dry month (or visa-versa) at Charleston.
Temperatures were relatively normal across the contiguous U.S. during February (top map) but precipitation ran from extremely dry on the West Coast to extremely wet in the Southeast. It was Georgia’s wettest February on record (bottom map) greatly alleviating the on-going drought there. Maps from NCDC/NESDIS/NOAA.
SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA
I am not aware of any significant extreme weather events affecting Central or South America this past February.
The month was fairly quiet with near normal temperatures and below normal precipitation in the U.K. The warmest temperature measured was 13.9°C (57°F) at Kinlochewe on February 17th and the coldest -10.0°C (14°F) at Aviemore, Inverness-shire on February 22nd. The greatest 24-hour precipitation reported was 56.4 mm (2.22”) at Capil Curig, Conwy on February 13-24. Although snowfall was not exceptional during the month an avalanche killed two people and injured one in the Scottish Highland’s Cairngorm mountain region on February 14th.
A heavy thunderstorm slammed Athens, Greece on February 22nd depositing 2.3” (58 mm) of rain in a 3-hour period. Flash flooding swamped portions of the city resulting in one fatality.
A women is rescued from a car during the flash flood that struck Athens on February 22nd. This dramatic scene took place in the northern suburb of Chalandri. Photo by John Kolesidis/REUTERS.
The month was exceptionally cold and snowy over much of Russia during the month. The port of Tiksi on the central-arctic coast (Sakha Republic) came within 1°C (1.8°F) of their all-time record minimum temperature when -49.5°C (-57.1°F) was reported.
The coldest temperature reported in the northern hemisphere during February was -56.6°C (-69.9°F) at Delyankir, Russia on February 2nd (this in the Asian portion of Russia as is Tiksi).
Heavy snow continued to blanket Moscow which is experiencing its snowiest winter in 100 years according to Moscow officials. Almost 300 cm (118”) has fallen this season, about 180% of normal, as of the end of February.
Heavy snowfall, especially early in the month, buried Moscow with snow depths reaching close to meter. Photo by Jiang Kehong, Xinhua News Agency.
Extreme heat persisted in Namibia and southwestern South Africa for the 3rd consecutive month. All-time national heat records were challenged in South Africa at Vioolsdrif and at Noordoewer, Namibia. Vanwyksvlei, South Africa did break its all-time maximum temperature with a 43.0°C (109.4°F) reading. All-time record high temperatures were also broken at several sites in Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) at various dates during February. These included 37.5° (99.5°F) at Gamboma, 36.0°C (96.8°F) at Mouyondzi, and 34.8°C (94.6°F) at Sibiti. The Republic of Congo almost saw its national record broken when the temperature reached 39.0°c (102.2°F) at Mpouya (the record being 39.2°C/102.6°F also set at Mpouya on March 8, 2011). Extreme heat was reported across a wide swath of West Africa with near record warmth reported in Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Ghana (where the national record was tied on March 6th).
It would also appear that a new February heat record for the northern hemisphere was set at Abu Na’Ama on February 27th when a blistering 44.5°C (112.1°F) was recorded. There are, however, some conflicting METAR reports so far as this is concerned. If true, then this figure (of course) was the warmest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during the past month.
Cyclone Haruna formed in the Mozambique Channel (between Mozambique and Madagascar), strengthened considerably before striking the southwestern coast of Madagascar on February 22nd with 95 mph winds. Thousands were made homeless and 23 deaths were reported as a result of the storm.
Cyclone Haruna roared ashore in southern Madagascar with 95 mph sustained winds. Prior to landfall the storm reached a peak intensity with 115 mph winds. NASA image.
Unusually hot weather was also reported from the Arabian Peninsula, southern China, and Southeast Asia. Makah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia reported its warmest February temperature on record with a 39.2°C (102.6°F) reading on February 24th and 25th. Bangkok, Thailand experienced its 2nd warmest February on record with its Klong Toey city site averaging 30.5°C (86.8°F) for the month (the record for February here is 31.0°C/87.8°F) in February 1998. Upcountry in northeast Thailand temperatures reached 38.7°C (101.7°F) at Mukdahan during the first week of February, exceptional heat for so early in the year. Prome, Myanmar (Burma) reached 41.4°C (106.5°F) on February 28th, just 1.4°C (2.5°F) short of the hottest February temperature ever measured anywhere in Asia (42.8°C/109.0°F) at Broach, India on February 28, 1953). Temperatures in southern China reached 37.1°C (98.8°F) at Yuangjiang on February 7th, an extraordinary anomaly for this site at this time of the year.
Very heavy snowfall buried much of northern Japan setting all-time record snow depths for inhabited areas. For more about this see my blog on the subject posted last month. A very severe blizard struck Hokkaido Island in March killing at least nine. I will report on this in my next monthly summary (April).
Temperatures in February returned to normal for most of Australia and even below normal for coastal New South Wales where blistering record-breaking heat had ruled in January. Precipitation was also, for the most part, normal across the country with the exception of parts of Western Australia that received heavy rain as a result of Cyclone Rusty.
Temperatures took a break from the extreme January heat during February especially along Australia’s east coast (top map). The impact of Cyclone Rusty on precipitation departures can be seen in the bottom map where the storm brought heavy rainfall to a large portion of Western Australia. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The hottest temperature reported during the month was 46.9°C (116.4°F) at Eyre, Western Australia on February 17 (and also at Learmonth on February 6th). This was the warmest temperature measured in the world during the past month. The coldest temperature in Australia during February was -2.2°C (28°F) at Mount Hotham, Victoria on February 2nd. The heaviest calendar day precipitation reported was 415.2 mm (16.35”) at Yarras (Mount Seaview), New South Wales on February 23rd.
NEW ZEALAND/SOUTH PACIFIC
It was a very dry and warm month for most of New Zealand. Rainfall totaled less than 15 mm (0.59”) in parts of the North Island including Auckland. In Leigh (north of Auckland) only 6 mm (0.24”) fell, 8% of normal and the driest month ever recorded there. The same held true for normally wet Milford Sound on the South Island where only 76 mm (2.99”) was measured for the month, 17% of normal, and the driest February on record for the site. Many places also reported their sunniest February on record.
The warmest temperature observed in New Zealand during February was 34.6°C (94.3°F) at Alexandra, South Island on February 1st and the coldest -1.1°C (30.0°F) at Mt. Ruapehu, North Island on February 6th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 278 mm (10.94”) at North Egmont, North Island on February 4th.
Tropical Storm Haley brought squally weather to the southernmost islands of French Polynesia in mid-February. It is quite unusual for tropical storms to form this far south (25-30°S latitude) in the Pacific Ocean.
The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during February was -59.3°C (-74.7°F) recorded at Dome A station on February 19th.
KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data.
Christopher C. Burt