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February 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: Christopher C. Burt , 9:03 PM GMT on March 12, 2011

February 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary

Extreme weather highlights for this past February include more extraordinary snowfalls in the U.S.A. (along with some record low temperatures) and more torrential rains and floods in Australia and South America.


The month opened with a humongous blizzard paralyzing the Midwest of the United States. Chicago reported its third greatest snowfall on record with 20.2” measured at O’Hare Airport on February 1-2. Tulsa, Oklahoma’s 14.0” accumulation was the greatest on record for that city.

A pedestrian leaps across the Lakeshore Drive median divide in Chicago as the February 2 blizzard buries trapped automobiles on the city road.

Record cold temperatures plunged southward following the storm resulting in Santa Fe, New Mexico tying its all-time coldest temperature with -18°F on February 3 and Ruidoso broke its all-time record low with -27°F (old record -26° in 1951 and 1971). Readings as low as -36°F were reported from other sites in the state (Angle Fire and Eagle Nest).

A chart of the extraordinary cold temperatures reported from New Mexico on February 3.

Laredo, Texas never rose above 30° on February 3 (coldest maximum temperature since a 29°F high on January 30, 1951) and, ironically, the city reached a high of 103° on February 27, tying the hottest February temperature on record for the site and only one degree short of the hottest temperature ever recorded in the USA for any location in the country for February (104° at Fort Ringgold, Texas in February 1904). However, the data from the official airport site in Laredo is suspect according to Laredo-based weatherman Richard Berler. Richard suspects the actual reading was just 101°F accounting for a +2°F bias at the airport site.
Record cold air poured south of the border into Mexico on February 3-5 with snow measurable snow reported at even low elevations around the city of Monterrey. The thermometer at the university in Chihuahua reported a low of 0°F.

A Mexican television report covers the unusual snowfall in the city of Chihuahua.

Another blizzard pummeled Oklahoma and Arkansas just a week later when an Oklahoma state record for a 24-hour snowfall was reached at Spaville when 27.0” accumulated on February 8-9. The Arkansas state record for such fell shy just 1/2” with 24.5” measured at Siloam Springs. Following the storm, Oklahoma broke its record for the coldest temperature on record for the state when a -31°F reading was measured at Nowata on February 10.

An unprecedented warm up occurred the following week in Oklahoma with temperatures rising into the 80°s. Some locations reported a 100°F+ rise in temperature within the span of 6 days.


Heavy rains in Bolivia resulted in a large landslide near the city of La Paz on February 17 destroying over 300 homes. Although there were no fatalities involved in the landslide, 44 deaths were reported from other parts of the country due to severe flooding.


I have received no reports of notable extreme weather events in Europe for the month.


Cyclone Bingiza made landfall in northern Madagascar on February 14 with winds of 85 to 105 knots (155-195 kph). Fourteen people were reported killed and some 6000 homes destroyed.

The temperature rose to 44.0°C (111.2°F) at Abu Na’ma, Sudan on February 26. This was the hottest temperature recorded in the Northern Hemisphere during the month.


At perennially cold Omyakon, Siberia (Russia) the temperature fell to a low of -59.1°C (-74.4°F) on February 21. This was the coldest temperature for the month in the Northern Hemisphere during the month.
Tremendous snowfalls affected the Korean peninsula during the month with an astonishing accumulation of 110cm (43.3”) reported on February 12 at Donghae, South Korea.

Record snowfall buries Donghae, South Korea under 43” of snow on February 12.


Torrential rains continued to plague Australia during February. It was the wettest February on record for the state of South Australia and second wettest for the country as a whole. Darwin recorded its single-wettest day on record when 367.6mm (14.50”) fell on February 16. Severe thunderstorms in the Melbourne area on February 4-5 caused flash floods when up to 147.4mm (5.80”) fell in a short period of time (as recorded at Mildura on the 5th).

Cyclone Yasi struck northern Queensland on February 2 with winds gusting as high as 180mph. It was the most powerful tropical storm to make landfall in the state since 1918. Fortunately, there were few fatalities or injuries thanks to timely forecasts.

The highest temperature reported for the month was 45.0°C (113.0°F) at Port Augusta on February 2. This was the hottest reading in the world for the month. Sydney endured its warmest night on record when the temperature dropped to only 27.6°C (81.7°F) on February 6. The city also recorded its longest stretch of consecutive 30°C+ (86°F) days between January 31-February 6 (inclusive). This seven-day stretch exceeds the previous record of five such days reported on several occasions in the past. Perth also broke its record for consecutive 30°C+ days with 27 such from February 6-March 4 (old record was 25 set in 1988).


The coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere and world during February was -80.3°F (-62.4°C) at Dome A station in Antarctica on February 28th.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for temperature data, Blair Trewin for Australian records, and Richard Berler for Laredo, Texas information.

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

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1. ncgnto25
12:40 PM GMT on March 15, 2011
Excellent commentary again. Thank you for noting the historic temperatures for New Mexico. I live in Albuquerque and we are just not prepared for that. Due to brownouts at compressor stations for natural gas coming to NM from Texas, much of outlying NM was without natural gas for several days. Water line freezups and breaks were extremely common all over NM, and El Paso even had a water shortage because of broken water lines and a zero degree reading. Albuquerque had a high of only 9, one of the coldest highs ever here.By the way, just outside of Angel Fire which is located in the mountains, there was an unofficial temperature of -50. Whew!
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Weather Extremes

About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.