February 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary
February featured a number of extreme weather events. Among the most notable were the floods affecting the U.K., severe ice storms in Slovenia, heavy snowfalls along the shores of the Caspian Sea and in the Tokyo area, and bitter cold in the north-central portion of the U.S.
Below are some of the month’s highlights.NORTH AMERICA
The biggest weather news stories of the month were the series of cold waves and snow/ice storms that plagued the eastern third of the nation. The Great Lakes reached their 2nd greatest ice cover since records for such began in 1973 and snow cover for the month was the 9th greatest (for February) in the 48-year long study of such by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. Scranton, Pennsylvania had its snowiest February on record with a 29.3” (74.4 cm) total (former record 27.9”/70.9 cm in 1914) as did Billings, Montana with 37.0” (78 cm), some 30.8” above average.A list of U.S. cities that have experienced one of their top ten coldest climatological (Dec-Feb) winters on record.
On the other hand, it was a near-record warm February in the Southwest and California where welcome rainfall helped ease the extreme drought conditions slightly. It has been the warmest winter (Dec-Feb) on record for Las Vegas and Tucson.
So overall nationwide, it was a colder than normal (but not much, ranking 37th out of 120 years of record) and precipitation was almost exactly normal (ranking 65th wettest out of 120 years).Precipitation (top map) and temperature (bottom map) rankings for the U.S. (out of 120 years) in February.
The coldest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during the past month was -60.1°C (-76.2°F) at Summit, Greenland on February 25th.SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA
The most severe drought in four decades has impacted portions of southeastern Brazil straining the hydroelectric industry and causing large-scale crop failures. Sao Paulo endured its worst heat wave on record February 1-11 when temperatures exceeded 33°C (91°F) every day.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Paraguay, an all-time record 222 mm (8.74”) of rain inundated the capital city of Asuncion on February 27th.EUROPE
It was a wild month weather-wise for Europe with massive flooding in the U.K., record warmth for Germany and other north-central regions, and a crippling ice and snowstorm in Slovenia and Italy (where floods occurred at lower elevations). Ice accretions reached over 7 mm (3”) in Slovenia.An incredible ice storm impacted Slovenia on February 3-5 depositing accumulations of 7 cm (3”) of ice in and around Ljubljana.
Photo from Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Arctic north saw temperatures rise as high as 6°C (42.8°F) in Norway’s Svalbard Islands while in Cologne and Frankfurt, Germany only one night saw temperatures drop below freezing. An unusual split of the polar vortex was responsible for the topsy-turvy weather.An unusual split in the polar vortex in the northern hemisphere accounted for both the unusually cold weather in the north-central U.S. and warm weather in the Arctic region and northern Europe. This is what it looked like at one point in early February.
The U.K. was also unusually mild (1.5°C/2.7°F above normal) and exceptionally wet, the 4th wettest February on record. Severe flooding affected southern England details of which can be found in a blog I posted earlier
. The warmest temperature observed in the U.K. during the month was 14.9°C (58.8°F) at Kew Gardens and at Heathrow Airport in London on February 24th and the coldest reading observed was -7.7°C (18.1°F) at Altnaharra, Scotland on February 17th. The greatest 24-hour rainfall was 125.6 mm (4.94”) at Altdearg House on the Isle of Skye on February 16-17.It was the 4th wettest February on record for the U.K. as a whole and the 2nd wettest for southern England as this precipitation anomaly map for the month illustrates.
U.K. Met Office, Crown copyright.AFRICA
Torrential rainfall caused flooding and landslides in and around Bujumbura, Burundi on February 8-10 killing at least 50 people.
The hottest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during the month was 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Abu Na’Ama, Sudan on February 28th.ASIA
A heavy snowfall impacted the southeastern shore of the Caspian Sea in Iran and Azerbaijan on February 3-7 depositing 60 cm (23.6”) of snow on Rasht, Iran and 95 cm (37.4”) on Lankaran, Azerbaijan. A bitter cold wave affected Central Asia in early February dropping temperatures to an all-time record low of -21.7°C (-7.1°F) at Termez, Uzbekistan on February 3rd.
Tokyo, Japan experienced two rare heavy snowfalls of 27 cm (10.6”) each on February 8-9 and February 14-15. The latter storm brought incredible amounts of snow (112 cm/44.0”) to Kofu and other Tokyo suburbs. Details of this event may be found in this blog I posted earlier. An amazing 122 cm (44”) of snow fell on the low elevation city of Kofu, Japan February 14-15, by the far the greatest snow accumulation on record for the city and double the previous record (POR since 1894).
Photo by Tatsumi Akita.
Earlier in February very warm temperatures were observed in Japan with a 25°C (77°F) reading observed at Miyazaki and even in South Korea the temperature rose to 22°C (71.6°F) at some locations. China also had a warm spell at this time with Shanghai hitting 25°C (77°F) and Fuzhou 28°C (82.4°F). All-time February warmth records were broken at many locations in eastern Siberia and Kamchatka between February 3-9, the most notable being the all-time February high of -12.5°C (9.5°F) at Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place in the world. Other records can be found in this blog.
Although it was unusually warm in eastern Siberia it got quite cold in central Siberia where the temperature fell to -59.4°C (-74.9°F) at Ekyuchchyu on February 4th.
Tropical Storm Kajiki killed three in the central Philippines in early February, the same region devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November.
Torrential rainfalls in the Indonesian portion of Papua resulted in floods that killed at least 11 around February 22-24. The deaths occurred in and around the provincial capital of Jayapura where 50 homes were destroyed.AUSTRALIA
Temperatures averaged near normal nationwide during February and precipitation was above normal. Adelaide experienced its wettest day in 45 years (and tied for 5th wettest on record) when 75.2 mm (2.96”) fell in 24 hours on February 13-14. A torrential rainstorm struck Canberra on the afternoon of February 19th dropping a month’s worth of rain (33.2 mm/1.31”) in just three hours. Other parts of the city received up to 86.4 mm (3.40”), as was measured at Torrens.Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) deciles for Australia during the month of February.
Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The hottest temperature measured in Australia, the southern hemisphere, and the world during February was 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Keith (Munkora), South Australia on February 2nd and the coldest -1.9°C (28.6°F) at Liawenee, Tasmania on February 23rd. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 389 mm (15.31”) at Nerada Alert, Queensland on February 3rd.NEW ZEALAND
Temperatures were near normal and precipitation varied widely across New Zealand during February. It was dry in the western and central portions of the North Island (20% of normal, with Ohakune reporting no measurable precipitation whatsoever) whereas very wet in the eastern coastal sections of the North Island (up to 150% of average). On February 23rd a super cell thunderstorm produced two tornadoes in the Canterbury plains near Christchurch on the South Island. Hail the size of golf balls fell at Ashburton. The storms caused minor structural damage and no injuries were reported.
The warmest temperature observed during the month was 35.7°C (96.3°F) at Clyde, South Island on February 20th and the coldest -2.4°C (27.7°F) at Pukaki, South Island on February 23rd. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 108 mm (4.25”) at Milford Sound, South Island on February 21st.ANTARCTICA
The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during February was –61.2C (-78.2°F) recorded at Concordia on February 24th.KUDOS
Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data.
Christopher C. Burt