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Another Warmer-Than-Average Winter, New Report Says

Nick Wiltgen | TWC
Published: March 11, 2013

Winter Temperature Rankings

Winter Temperature Rankings

NOAA

Statewide winter temperature rankings for December 2012 through February 2013. Numbers indicate ranking among the last 118 winters; for example, Utah had its 20th-coldest winter while Florida had its tenth-warmest. Source: NCDC/NESDIS/NOAA

  • Winter Temperature Rankings
  • Winter Precipitation Rankings
  • February Temperature Rankings
  • February Precipitation Rankings

The winter of 2012-13 was another warmer-than-average one, according to data released by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center on Monday.

The report, which covers the recently-concluded "meteorological winter" from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, shows that 2012-13 was the 20th-warmest winter of the past 118 for the Lower 48. It was also a relatively wet winter, placing 25th-wettest since 1895-96.

Only four states had "near normal" temperatures, defined as the middle one-third of the historical range, according to the NCDC report. Six states were cooler than normal, all of them in the Southwest. None of those states placed among their ten coldest winters.

The other 38 contiguous states were warmer than normal. Among them, three placed among their ten warmest winters historically: Delaware (5th), Vermont (9th), and Florida (10th).

Nationally, 11 of the past 14 winters (1999-2000 to 2012-13) have been warmer than average. The national warming trend for the winter months is now 1.71 degrees per century, a slightly stronger winter warming signal than in last year's NCDC winter report.

(MORE: States most and least affected by winter warming)

February: Despite Powerhouse Storms, A "Normal" Month

Despite a series of powerhouse winter storms such as Winter Storm Nemo, Winter Storm Orko, Winter Storm Q, and Winter Storm Rocky, February as a whole was a relatively average month for temperatures and precipitation nationally, and for many of the states.

For the nation as a whole, it was the 49th-warmest February of the past 119, dating back to February 1895. Precipitation was near the middle of the pack, with February 2013 ranking 58th-driest, or 62nd-wettest, in that period of record.

Broken down by state, February was "near normal" for fully two-thirds of the Lower 48 states, and not a single state had a top-ten warmest or coolest February on record. Five states were cooler than normal, led by Arizona (15th-coolest); 11 states were warmer than normal, led by Maine (15th-warmest).

Ironically, despite the passage of Winter Storm Nemo and the resultant deep snowpack that lingered much of the month, all of the New England states were warmer than average except for Rhode Island, where a 44th-warmest February put it in the "near normal" category.

Precipitation patterns were more sharply defined in February.

Georgia, hard hit by an intense long-term drought since late 2010, enjoyed its wettest February on record. Parts of the state saw over a foot of rain during the month, and the statewide average was an impressive 9.92 inches, smashing the previous record from 1939 by over an inch.

Winter Storm Nemo helped Rhode Island to its third-wettest February on record, and Massachusetts to its eighth-wettest. It was also a top-ten wettest February for Alabama (4th) and South Carolina (7th).

Meanwhile it was the fifth-driest February on record in California, and the seventh-driest for Oregon, as a dry pattern dominated much of the West. For California, the statewide average of 0.57 inches of precipitation in February 2013 was only about one-sixth of the long-term average for the second month of the year.

MORE: Winter Storm Nemo

Nemo, which struck the Northeast in early February, was one of the most powerful winter storms of the past winter.

New Haven, Conn.

New Haven, Conn.

A neighborhood near New Haven, Conn., is buried in snow in the aftermath of a storm that hit Connecticut and much of New England. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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  • Winter Storm Nemo

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