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All-Time Warmth for February Stretches to New England

By: Bob Henson and Jeff Masters 5:47 PM GMT on February 24, 2017

A February remarkable for its long stretches of mildness steamed onward Thursday, with more all-time records for the month continuing to tumble across wide stretches of the U.S. The apex of the record-setting warmth expanded on Thursday from the Midwest (which we covered in our last post) into New York and New England (see below). A staggering number of daily record highs have been set in recent days, especially when juxtaposed against the sparse number of record lows this month. As of Friday morning, NOAA’s U.S. Records site had compiled 4492 daily record highs for February 2017, against a mere 29 daily record lows, for a lopsided highs-to-lows ratio of 155-to-1. With record highs expected to far outpace record lows through the end of the month, February has a very good chance of smashing the highest ratio in modern records: 44-to-1, from November 2016, as reported by longtime records tracker Guy Walton (@climateguyw) in his new Guy on Climate blog. Brian Kahn (Climate Central) puts it this way: “The U.S. is poised to set a record-setting record.”

Another astounding tidbit: the NOAA site shows 248 monthly record highs for February, but no monthly record lows at all. This is the first time that Walton recalls seeing such a skewed ratio of monthly records. It almost goes without saying that this onslaught of February records is entirely consistent with the warming of national and global climate being generated by human-produced greenhouse gases, as noted by Andrew Freedman (Mashable).

Mild air flowing into U.S. from atop record-warm northwest Atlantic waters
The polar jet stream and associated surface front that typically swings through the United States in late winter has been hovering close to the U.S./Canada border, with intrusions of seasonally cold air into the central and eastern United States either absent or short-lived over the last few days. The air mass south of this boundary has been notably mild and humid, flowing northward after spending time atop sea-surface temperatures that are at record-warm levels for late February.

“Western Atlantic basin SSTs are on fire!” tweeted hurricane forecaster Eric Blake (@EricBlake12) on Thursday. “Easily warmest on record--especially the Gulf of Mexico.” This warmth is especially well reflected in a swarm of daily record highs and record-warm lows at Galveston, TX, where records began in 1874. Since September 1, Galveston has set an impressive 33 heat records of various types--more than any other Southeast city during that period in a compilation pulled together late Thursday by Houston meteorologist Matt Lanza (@MattLanza). Eric Berger (Space City Weather) has more on the extremely mild Houston/Galveston winter.


Figure 1. Sea-surface temperatures early on Thursday, February 23, 2017, were running 1-2°C (1.8-3.6°F) above average over large parts of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and northwest Atlantic. Image credit: www.tropicaltidbits.com, via Eric Blake.


Figure 2. An enhanced risk of severe weather is predicted by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center for Friday, February 24, 2017 from Detroit, MI, to Cincinnati, OH, including parts of four states. Image credit: WU, via NOAA/SPC.

Severe storms possible in eastern Great Lakes on Friday
With a potent upper-level trough approaching the relentlessly warm, moist air mass over the eastern Great Lakes, an outbreak of severe weather may erupt on Friday. At 6:30 am CST, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center placed an “enhanced risk” area from southern Michigan across eastern Indiana and western Ohio into north central Kentucky. Severe weather outbreaks in winter typically feature very strong wind shear (winds increasing and/or turning with height), along with just enough instability to get thunderstorms forming. There’s ample instability in this case, given the very mild, moist surface air in place, but the wind shear is fairly linear, with little directional change with height. As a result, the odds are tilted away from rotating supercell storms (the kind most likely to produce violent tornadoes) and instead toward lines or clusters of severe storms, eventually forming a longer squall line. The biggest threat of the day appears to be locally damaging winds, although tornadoes and marginally severe hail (0.75” or larger in diameter) can’t be ruled out. The odds of widespread severe weather will be lower on Saturday as the system moves across the Northeast and New England, but strong winds may still mix to the surface where thunderstorms do occur.

The best odds for a supercell on Friday is close to a surface low that will be traversing southern Michigan--a state where any severe weather in February is rare. Since 1986, the NWS office in Detroit has issued tornado or severe thunderstorm warnings for just two severe weather events, the most recent being in 1999. According to the Tornado History Project, since 1950, only one tornado has ever touched down in February in Michigan: an F2 twister that hit southeast Michigan on February 28, 1974. Ohio has recorded 17 February tornadoes since 1950, and Indiana has had 31.

Texas and the century mark: 100°F heat on Thursday
We expect to see temperatures over 100°F in Texas in July, but not in February! Temperatures soared past the 100 degree mark at several stations in southern Texas on Thursday, flirting with the all-time U.S. temperature record for February. According to wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the Texas (and national) February heat record is either a questionable 104° at Fort Ringgold (now known as Rio Grande City) on Feb. 20, 1902 or, more likely, 103° at La Joya on Feb. 28, 2009 and also at Laredo on Feb. 20, 1986 and Feb. 27, 2011. The 101°F reading in McAllen, Texas on Thursday was their hottest February temperature ever recorded. A number of COOP and Mesonet stations also exceeded 100°F on Thursday, with the hottest being a 107°F mark at Falcon Lake on the Mexican border. However, we asked south Texas weather expert Richard "Heatwave" Berler (@Heatwave KGNS) about this mark, and he responded:  "I think that the thermometer is miscalibrated or exposed. It consistently runs higher than nearby thermometers during the daytime." Another site at Falcon Lake recorded 103°F (originally reported as 105°) though, and this may be a reasonable measurement, since there were three Mexican stations near Falcon Lake that reported 103°F - 104°F at that time. Update: The NWS/Brownsville office reported in a tweet Friday afternoon that the Falcon Lake COOP station recorded 103°F on Thursday. This ties the most reliable candidates for the national February record noted above.

Here are the 100°F readings in Texas from February 23 as recorded in the NOAA Weather and Hazards Viewer (thanks go to Hal Needham for alerting us to this tool):

107°F at Falcon Lake RAWS
105°F at Falcon Lake COOP (APRSWXNET/CWOP)
102°F in Atlee
102°F in Dilley
101°F at Zapata
100°F at Faith Ranch Airport
100°F at Cotulla
100°F - 101°F at three stations in McAllen
101°F at Laredo

The hot temperatures in southern Texas have increased wildfire risk this week, and a Red Flag Warning for dangerous fire conditions was posted on Friday for most of the region.


Figure 3. As piles of snow melt in the foreground, Williams College students take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather by dressing in shorts and tank tops as they hang out and study outside Chapin Hall on the school's campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on Thursday, February 23, 2017. The campus lies just a few miles south of Bennington, Vermont, where a new state record high for February was set on Thursday. Image credit: Gillian Jones /The Berkshire Eagle via AP.

Monthly records melt in Hudson and Champlain valleys
At least two states have seen all-time statewide highs for February this week. Vermont had its warmest February temperature on record Thursday, February 23, with Bennington soaring to 69°F. According to WU weather historian Christopher Burt, the previous state record for February was 68°F, set in Bennington in February 1957. It’s possible other sites in Vermont also reached or topped 69°F on Thursday. In Wisconsin, Janesville and Boscobel both hit 72°F on Wednesday, February 22. According to Burt, it appears that the previous state record was 69°F at multiple locations. Amazingly, he adds, at least 12 other official reporting sites in Wisconsin tied or broke that previous state record on Wednesday!

All-time records for February set on Thursday, February 22, included:
Albany, NY: 69°F (previous record 68°F on Feb. 22, 1997; records began in 1874)
Glens Falls, NY: 68°F (previous record 65°F on Feb. 21, 1981; records began in 1944)
Burlington, VT: 63°F (previous record 61°F on Feb. 22, 1981; records began in 1883)
Montpelier, VT: 63°F (previous record 61°F on Feb. 19, 1981, and Feb. 22, 1997; records began in 1948)
St. Johnsbury, VT: 62°F (tied) (previous record 62°F on Feb. 21, 1981; records began in 1984)

Some of these brand-new all-time monthly records in northern New England may be in jeopardy on Friday and/or Saturday, as yet another surge of very mild air pushes into New England ahead of the severe-weather-producing storm now over the Great Lakes. We can also expect a continuing avalanche of daily record highs throughout much of the eastern U.S. (see images below). Update: Boston reached 71°F at around 12:30 pm EST Friday, breaking the city’s all-time February record of 70°F from Feb. 24, 1985. Records in Boston go back to 1872.

Flood threat from snowmelt ramping up across New York and New England
Flood watches are in effect this weekend from the Adirondacks of New York to parts of eastern Maine. Although an inch or more of rain could fall this weekend, the bigger reason for the flood watches is the persistent warmth that’s been kicking snowmelt season into early overdrive. The equivalent of 3” - 4” of rainfall could be produced by snowmelt alone over the Adirondacks and eastern Vermont, according to the National Weather Service in Burlington, with the potential for significant rain atop the snowmelt. “That’s a lot of liquid for our rivers to handle. And the ground is also frozen, so not much will soak in,” noted the office in a morning forecast discussion. In general, flooding is expected to be mild to occasionally moderate, but more significant floods could occur over the weekend if and where ice jams complicate the picture.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters


Figure 4. High temperatures across the northeastern U.S. on Thursday, February 23, 2017. Image credit: NWS Eastern Region.


Figure 5. Record daily highs set or tied across the northeastern U.S. on Thursday, February 23, 2017. Image credit: NWS Eastern Region.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Quoting 508. RobertWC:


One day we will all sing into can and get 10 dolllars

Link

I can get twice that just by threatening to sing...from those who have heard me sing.
Why not put all of that in to one comment? A little bit like spam down there...
Quoting 510. Gearsts:

Why not put all of that in to one comment? A little bit like spam down there...

Dance.
Dance on the volcano.

W Europe - severe weather:

Estofex - Storm Forecast Experiment: Link

Flood warning: France's west coast set to be battered by massive waves and strong winds
TheLocal.fr - Feb 27.
National weather agency Meteo France has issued Orange weather warnings for seven departments - all on the west coast of France - for strong waves, high tides, and violent winds. The rise in the sea level and the ensuing waves are due to a depression moving southwards from Iceland and past the British Isles, the agency added.

Arome model, Mon 27 6z run - max wind gusts (kph) until Tue 28, 18z ---> Screenshot: Link

Latest observations: wind gusts (kph): Link

Current satellite (airmass loop): Link
Zoom on convective activity (vis. loop): Link
Rain radar loop: Link
Blitzortung live lightning map (!): Link
I have a theory. I believe that temperature increase will not be gradual 1-1.5 degree over 50-75 years. I believe as a pot of boiling water reaches 212f. it does not display much. the boiling event takes place suddenly and violently. Im thinking in a 1-2 year cycle, the whole thing goes poof. and we are Venus
Here comes El-Nino!

22FEB2017 28.5 2.3 27.3 0.7 27.1 0.3 28.0-0.1
Good Morning Folks; the Conus forecast for today and current look:



And the arm of the jet busting over Europe as noted below:



No cold tongue along South America this year to impede this event. Very likely a very strong El-Nino about to come on later this Summer.

Latest CFS is showing a Super El-Nino could even be nearing 1.5C by July. Look at this below.

July


November
RIP Bill Paxton!

RIP Bill Paxton: A Man of Many Faces Who Brought Humanity to All He Touched

Yesterday spotters and chasers arranged a tribute to Bill Paxton who passed away on February 25.



and NWS wrote this in a tweet:

Twister was an inspiration to many budding meteorologists over the last 20 years. Thank you, Bill Paxton, a.k.a. Bill "The Extreme" Harding.

What is interesting about this El-Nino and one you just don't see often occur is that this El-Nino is coming on from the East not the west as they traditional do.

Pretty remarkable on how this is El-Nino is coming in from the East and pushing down into the Pacific.


Quoting 519. StormTrackerScott:

Latest CFS is showing a Super El-Nino could even be nearing 1.5C by July. Look at this below.

July


November




last time we had a super EL Nino it ended up being a bust here in CA this year we are getting what we should have got in last year
Amazing warm month across the East has lead to a EF-1 tornado in Massachusetts is incredible for February standards.


NWS Eastern RegionVerified account
‏@NWSEastern

EF-1 tornado Saturday confirmed by @NWSBoston near Conway MA (Franklin Co.). First February tornado on record in MA https://nwschat.weather.gov/p.php?pid=201702262326 -KBOX-NOUS41-PNSBOX …
Quoting 514. boandjoe:

I have a theory. I believe that temperature increase will not be gradual 1-1.5 degree over 50-75 years. I believe as a pot of boiling water reaches 212f. it does not display much. the boiling event takes place suddenly and violently. Im thinking in a 1-2 year cycle, the whole thing goes poof. and we are Venus
Sorry, but we will never be Venus or anything like Venus.
Quoting 525. NativeSun:

Sorry, but we will never be Venus or anything like Venus.


your statements with absolutely nothing to back them up are getting so tired and boring!! you literally sound like a wannabe god who claims to know all, offers no proof, and just blindly expects you to believe them.


keep looking up. you'll be amazed at what you see.

rip bill paxton, an inspiration to many of us.
Quoting 517. weathermanwannabe:

And the arm of the jet busting over Europe as noted below:




Several times when this view of the jet stream is posted I have noticed that it seems to wrap North as it flows East. Is that a characteristic of the Jet -- that it starts close to the Equator and spirals to the pole, and as it gets closer to the pole it gets wavier?
For some reason fire ants seem to like wires too, or electricity specifically. In TX I have seen them get into electrical boxes of things like power controllers for electric gate-openers. Maybe they were just seeking high ground for their nest, but I swear there's something about electricity that attracts them.

Quoting 483. Qazulight:



My son, a pest tech, tells me that the fire ants are ranchers, the herd bugs onto plants, so they can eat the bugs, like ranchers.

He told me that controlling the fire ants would help control the bugs eating my plants, as long as the fire ants were running wild the two spotted lady bird beatle could not control the pests, the fire ants regard them the same way ranchers regard wolves.

Could all be all wrong, if it doesn't have wires I am not so good at it.

Cheers
Qazulight
Quoting 529. CaneFreeCR:

Several times when this view of the jet stream is posted I have noticed that it seems to wrap North as it flows East. Is that a characteristic of the Jet -- that it starts close to the Equator and spirals to the pole, and as it gets closer to the pole it gets wavier?


It varies but generally speaking, the jet dips to the south on approach to the US (out of the Pacific) and then dips back to the North over the North Atlantic...............Complex but consistent pattern. Here is the relevant blurb from Noaa:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/global/je t.html



The actual appearance of jet streams result from the complex interaction between many variables - such as the location of high and low pressure systems, warm and cold air, and seasonal changes. They meander around the globe, dipping and rising in altitude/latitude, splitting at times and forming eddies, and even disappearing altogether to appear somewhere else.

In addition, with the three-cell circulations mentioned previously, the regions around 30° N/S and 50°-60° N/S are areas where temperature changes are the greatest. As the difference in temperature between the two locations increase, the strength of the wind increases. Therefore, the regions around 30° N/S and 50°-60° N/S are also regions where the wind, in the upper atmosphere, is the strongest.

The momentum the air has as it travels around the earth is conserved, which means as the air that's over the equator starts moving toward one of the poles, it keeps its eastward motion constant. The Earth below the air, however, moves slower as that air travels toward the poles. The result is that the air moves faster and faster in an easterly direction (relative to the Earth's surface below) the farther it moves from the equator.
WHEN WILL THE IGNORE FEATURE BE WORKING AGAIN???? I'm getting so tired of having to see spam/trash from a certain poster.
so sad to hear he was awesome.....
Quoting 528. earthisanocean:



keep looking up. you'll be amazed at what you see.

rip bill paxton, an inspiration to many of us.











Just some bits and pieces of interesting info. Still too early to tell what'll happen this summer/hurricane season, espeically in regards to El Nino. We're in the "spring predictability barrier", where models have a lot less accuracy in predicting ENSO. Although signs are pointing more towards an El Nino developing. Also remember that even if there are warm pools building beneath the Nino regions, they can "fizzle out" as we saw with very large/robust warm pool of 2014 and the predictions of a super Nino developing then.

It's nearly 50° F out here in Chicagoland, and the snow drops have bloomed. The daffodils are coming up, too. This is a very strange year.
Today is Lundi Gras, and tomorrow Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras Day'






Quoting 538. ChiThom:

It's nearly 50 F out here in Chicagoland, and the snow drops have bloomed. The daffodils are coming up, too. This is a very strange year.


You and I ain't seen nothing yet.

Winter was murdered by the Warmth this year.

Quoting 541. Patrap:



You and I ain't seen nothing yet.

Winter was murdered by the Warmth this year.




Yes. I don't think it will get cold here in the coming weeks, either. Not at all.
I'm getting tired of the mud. My skis and snow-runner are retired for the season.
A large area of elevated SST is now in the western S. Atlantic. Could we possibly see some tropical action down there this season?
Quoting 542. ChiThom:



Yes. I don't think it will get cold here in the coming weeks, either. Not at all.
I'm getting tired of the mud. My skis and snow-runner are retired for the season.


Here in the new desert of the Mid Atlantic I'd be happy for some mud.
Here are the current Global SSTs; very warm around the equatorial regions and starting to get plenty of "creep" into the North Pacific and North Atlantic Basin; we can probably expect a pretty active E-Pac and Atlantic season this year so long as sheer cooperates and once the SAL retreats around August in terms of the mid-Atlantic SST's between Africa and the Caribbean:




JeffMasters has created a new entry.
I don't mind all the off-topic comments because there isn't much weather to occupy us yet.
Quoting 525. NativeSun:

Sorry, but we will never be Venus or anything like Venus.


How close will Earth come to being a Venus, as far as being able to support life? That is the question you should be asking and instead you are making claims that are of little importance otherwise.
549. vis0

Quoting 509. Misanthroptimist:


I can get twice that just by threatening to sing...from those who have heard me sing.
[humour]in nYc yall get zip just calls to police that a broken car alarm low on battery juice has gone off[/humour]


[slapped by]  >>**<< [/Misanthroptimist]
550. vis0
Quoting 514. boandjoe:


I have a theory. I believe that temperature increase will not be
gradual 1-1.5 degree over 50-75 years. I believe as a pot of boiling
water reaches 212f. it does not display much. the boiling event takes
place suddenly and violently. Im thinking in a 1-2 year cycle, the whole
thing goes poof. and we are Venus
Quoting 525. NativeSun:

Sorry, but we will never be Venus or anything like Venus.
i think that a pot of boiling water does display per-boiling activities as:

  • - the warming water can be felt in particular above or near the warming pot  ([CHECK] happening already see warmer areas becoming warmer first i.e. Equatorial areas

  • - the warmer water causing wisps of water vapour to rise [[CHECK] happening in reality, atmosphere has been read as being more more latent

  • - the warming water bubbling at the surface ([quasi-check] not literally visible/seen as ocean is too big at a local point to see it as a whole but observe the slight rise in world Ocean levels and THINK that must be some DAM* bunsen burner to warm the ocean (molecules) to raise it even a hair and its risen more than 30 hairs (sit down you 2...4...8...16 hares/rabbits)

  • - the warming to where ocean water actually bubbling if that where to happen man would live been long gone plus most other living things except some microbes/least complex creatures that can survive extreme heat.        i think way before that, the ocean as we know it - WET - is gone.
So when we grab that hot water to make coffee THINK as the water begins to warm up is that what we want to leave our/the children and if you are too selfish or greedy is that what you want to leave for the next you when you reincarnate. ( Last words  i leave for in 20-30 yrs when
reincarnation is proven some  searching/referencing can point to this comment)

 if one does not think  reincarnation is possible and is faith based then what is the reward or punishment for destroying a gift from gawd that man was to TAKE CARE off?
551. Vesca
Some sources say that the US February record is 105 F recorded on February 3, 1963 at Montezuma, Arizona. Is this reading unreliable?