National Overview

February Extreme Weather/Climate Events

February Highlights

February Temperature

The contiguous U.S. average temperature during February was 41.1°F, 7.2°F above average, ranking third warmest in the 130-year record.

Generally, temperatures were above average across most of the contiguous U.S., while record-warm temperatures were observed across much of the Mississippi Valley and in parts of the Great Lakes and southern Plains.

For the month of February, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri ranked warmest on record. An additional 20 states ranked among their top-10 warmest February on record.

The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during February was 52.1°F, 7.4°F above the 20th century average, ranking third-warmest February for daytime temperatures in the historical record. Maximum temperatures were above average across the majority of the contiguous U.S., while near-average temperatures were observed in parts of the West and Florida. Below-normal temperatures were observed in parts of California and Nevada. Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan ranked warmest on record, while 18 additional states ranked among their top-10 warmest February for daytime temperatures.

The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during February was 30.1°F, 7.3°F above the 20th century average, ranking warmest February on record for overnight temperatures. Minimum temperatures were above average across much of the contiguous U.S. while near-normal temperatures were observed in parts of the Southeast and in pockets of the West. Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan each ranked second-warmest on record for February, while 22 additional states experienced a top-10 warmest February for nighttime temperatures.

The Alaska statewide February temperature was 10.3°F, 5.5°F above the long-term average, ranking in the middle third of the 100-year period of record for the state. Temperatures were above average across most of the state with near-normal temperatures observed in parts of southeast Alaska and Panhandle.

Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during February was 10 percent of average and the second-lowest value in the 130-year period of record.

February Precipitation

The February precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 1.86 inches, 0.27 inch below average, ranking in the driest third of the 130-year record.

Precipitation was above average across much of the western U.S. and in parts of the central Appalachians, Southeast, and western High Plains. Conversely, precipitation was below average across much of the eastern half of the U.S. and in parts of the Northwest, northern Plains and Southwest.

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Illinois each ranked second-driest February on record, while seven additional states had their top-10 driest February on record.

Across the state of Alaska, the average monthly precipitation ranked in the middle third of the historical record. Precipitation was above average in parts of the North Slope, West Coast and in parts of the south-central Gulf of Alaska coast, while below-normal precipitation was observed in parts of the northeast Interior and Panhandle during the month.

According to the February 27 U.S. Drought Monitor, about 21.6% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 2% from the end of January. Drought conditions expanded or intensified along portions of the Northern Tier, and in parts of the central and northern Mississippi Valley, southern Plains, the Carolinas and Hawaii this month. Drought contracted or was reduced in intensity across much of the Southwest and Lower Mississippi Valley, and parts of the central Plains, northern Rockies and Puerto Rico.

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

One new billion-dollar weather and climate disaster was confirmed this month after a southern tornado outbreak and East Coast storm impacted more than a dozen states during January 8-10. At least 39 preliminary tornadoes were clustered around the Florida Panhandle through the Carolinas while hundreds of high wind reports reflected damage to many homes, businesses, vehicles and other infrastructure. The strongest tornado was an EF-3 that caused significant damage around Panama City Beach, Florida, after an intense waterspout moved onshore.

Since these billion-dollar disaster records began in 1980, the U.S. has sustained 377 separate weather and climate disasters where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (based on the CPI adjustment to 2024) per event. The total cost of these 377 events exceeds $2.670 trillion.

Other Notable Events

Persistent heat brought record-breaking temperatures to portions of the U.S. during February and the winter season:

  • Approximately 46 million people were impacted by record heat during the month of February.
  • It was the warmest winter season on record for the contiguous U.S. by over 0.8°F, while this season was record warmest for Minnesota by 2.7°F, Wisconsin by 2.2°F, Michigan by 1.6°F and Iowa by 1.0°F. North Dakota, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire were record warmest by less than 1.0°F.
  • It was the third warmest February on record for the contiguous U.S., while monthly temperatures were nearly 20°F above normal in parts of Minnesota and North Dakota. Four states had their warmest February on record with Iowa surpassing their previous record by 2.0°F.
  • A total of 506 counties each had their warmest February on record while an additional 1,519 counties ranked in the top-10 warmest for the month. For the winter season, 489 counties were record warm while an additional 1,394 counties ranked in the top-10 for this season. There are 3,143 counties in the U.S.
  • Persistent warmth resulted in a steady decrease in ice coverage across the Great Lakes, which reached a historical low of 2.7% on February 11—the lowest ice coverage on record during mid February.

The Smokehouse Creek wildfire burned more than a million acres in the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. The wildfire began on February 26, destroying homes and causing loss of cattle; it has become the largest wildfire in Texas history.

Unseasonably warm temperatures mixed with a vigorous cold front fueled powerful storms in portions of the Upper Midwest that spawned tornadoes in Iowa and Illinois. Wisconsin had its first Feb tornado on record—an EF-2 near Evansville, Wisconsin.

A series of atmospheric river events brought heavy rain and snow to parts of the West during February, causing significant flooding, powerful winds, landslides and power outages in parts of California. The city of Los Angeles received more than 12 inches of rain during February, approximately three times the February average, making this February the wettest February in decades for the city.

Historic snowfall continued across portions of Alaska. Anchorage has received over 119 inches of snow since October—the second-snowiest water year (October 2023–September 2024) to date.


Winter Highlights

December-February Temperature

The meteorological winter (December-February) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 37.6°F, 5.4°F above average, ranking warmest on record.

Temperatures were above average across almost all of the contiguous U.S. and near average only along parts of the Gulf of Mexico and South Carolina.

North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire each ranked warmest on record, while an additional 26 states ranked among their top-10 warmest winter on record for this period.

The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during December-February was 47.7°F, 4.9°F above the 20th century average, ranking warmest on record. Daytime temperatures were above average across much of the Lower 48, while near-average temperatures were observed in Florida and parts of southwestern U.S. and Lower Mississippi Valley. Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan each ranked warmest on record, with 25 additional states experiencing a top-10 warmest December-February for daytime temperatures.

The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during this three-month period was 27.6°F, 5.8°F above the 20th century average, ranking warmest winter in the historical record. Above-average nighttime temperatures were observed across most of the U.S., while near- to below-normal temperatures were observed in parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast during this three-month period. North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine ranked warmest on record. 22 additional states ranked among their top-10 warmest December-February during this winter season.

The Alaska winter temperature was 6.4°F, 2.8°F above the long-term average, ranking in the middle third of the historical record for the state. Temperatures were above average across parts of the North Slope, West Coast, Southwest and Panhandle, while much of the Interior and south-central Alaska were near average for the season.

Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was record lowest during December-February period.

December-February Precipitation

The contiguous U.S. winter precipitation total was 7.71 inches, 0.92 inch above average, ranking in the wettest third of the December-February record.

Precipitation was above average across much of the contiguous U.S., while Connecticut and Delaware each had their third-wettest winter season on record.

Winter precipitation was below average along the Northern Tier and in parts of the Great Lakes and Southwest, and in small pockets of the Mississippi Valley and Maine. No state ranked among their top-10 driest winter season on record.

Winter season precipitation ranked in the wettest third of the historical record for Alaska. Wetter-than-average conditions were observed across much of the state, while near-average precipitation was observed in portions of the central Interior, south-central Interior, northeast Interior and in parts of the Aleutians.

Extremes

The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the winter period was 78 percent above average, ranking fifth highest value in the 114-year period of record. Extremes in warm maximum temperatures and warm minimum temperatures were the major contributors to this elevated CEI value. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (occurring in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous United States.

On the regional scale, the Ohio Valley ranked much-above average, while the Northeast and Upper Midwest ranked highest and second-highest for this winter season, respectively. Each of these regions experienced elevated extremes in warm maximum temperatures and warm minimum temperatures. The Northeast also experienced elevated extremes in 1-day precipitation and wet PDSI values, while the Upper Midwest also experienced dry PDSI values.


Year-to-Date Highlights

January-February Temperature

For the January-February period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 36.5°F, 4.5°F above average, ranking ninth warmest on record for this period.

Temperatures were above average across much of the conterminous U.S. with near-average temperatures in much of the Southeast and in parts of the West.

Minnesota and Wisconsin each ranked warmest on record, while an additional 12 states had a top-10 warmest year-to-date period. No state experienced a top-10 coldest event for this two-month period.

The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during January-February was 46.6°F, 3.9°F above the 20th century average, ranking 11th warmest in the historical record. Above-average temperatures were observed across much of the conterminous U.S., while near- to below-average temperatures were observed in parts of the West, western Plains and Southeast. Wisconsin ranked warmest on record for daytime temperatures during January-February period. An additional seven states ranked among their top-10 warmest for daytime temperatures during this period.

The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during this two-month period was 26.4°F, 5.1°F above the 20th century average, ranking fourth warmest in the historical record. Above-average nighttime temperatures were observed across most of the Lower 48, while near- to below-average temperatures were observed in small portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast. Minnesota and Vermont each ranked warmest on record, while 17 additional states ranked among their top-10 warmest January-February period on record for nighttime temperatures.

The Alaska January-February temperature was 6.7°F, 3.2°F above the long-term average, ranking in the warmest third of the historical record for the state. Much of the state was near average for the two-month period while temperatures were above average across parts of the North Slope, West Coast, Southwest and Panhandle.

Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-February was 28 percent of average and was the eighth-lowest value on record.

January-February Precipitation

The January-February precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 5.12 inches, 0.67 inch above average, ranking in the wettest third of the 130-year record.

Precipitation was above average across much of the U.S. No states ranked among their top-10 wettest year-to-date period on record.

Conversely, precipitation was below average along the Northern Tier and across parts of the Southwest, Northeast and Southeast Coast during the January–February period. North Dakota ranked 10th driest on record for this two-month period.

The January-February precipitation ranked in the wettest third of the 100-year record for Alaska, with above-average precipitation observed across much of the North Slope, West Coast and eastern Interior. Below-average precipitation was experienced in parts of the northeast Interior and in parts of the Panhandle during this period.

Extremes

The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date period was 6 percent above average, ranking in the upper third of the 115-year period of record. Extremes in warm maximum and minimum temperatures were the major contributors to this elevated CEI value. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (occurring in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous United States.

On the regional scale, the Northwest was above average while the Northeast and Upper Midwest ranked much-above average for this year-to-date period. Each of these regions, except for the Northwest, experienced elevated extremes in warm maximum temperatures and warm minimum temperatures. The Northwest experienced elevated extremes in warm minimum temperatures, 1-day precipitation and number of days with precipitation. The Northeast also experienced elevated extremes in wet PDSI values while the Upper Midwest experienced elevated extremes in dry PDSI values.

Monthly Outlook

According to the February 29 One-Month Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, above-normal monthly average temperatures in March are favored to impact much of the eastern U.S., while above-normal monthly precipitation is likely from the central Plains to the West Coast and from the Gulf of Mexico to southern portions of New England, as well as southern Alaska, during March. Drought is likely to persist along portions of the Northern Tier, Southwest, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

According to the One-Month Outlook issued on March 1 from the National Interagency Fire Center, much of the Upper Midwest and in parts of the central and southern Plains have an above-normal significant wildland fire potential during the month of March, while much of southeastern U.S. is expected to have below-normal potential for the month.


Regional Highlights

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Northeast (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)

A warm, dry February closed out a record warm, record wet winter that featured below-normal snowfall.

Temperature

The Northeast had its fifth warmest February since records began in 1895 with an average temperature of 31.6 degrees F, 5.2 degrees F above normal. February average temperatures for the 12 Northeast states ranged from 2.3 degrees F above normal in Delaware to 6.3 degrees F above normal in Vermont. This February ranked among the 20 warmest for all 12 states: Vermont, fourth warmest; Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, sixth warmest; New Hampshire and New York, seventh warmest; Massachusetts, 12th warmest; Connecticut, 14th warmest; New Jersey and Rhode Island, 15th warmest; Maryland, 16th warmest; and Delaware, 18th warmest. Three New York sites – Syracuse, Buffalo, and Albany – had their warmest February on record. Winter 2023-24 was the second warmest winter on record for the Northeast with an average temperature of 31.8 degrees F, 5.1 degrees F above normal, just behind the record warm 31.9 degrees F seen during winter 2001-02. Winter 2023-24 was record warm for New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont and ranked among the 10 warmest winters on record for the other nine Northeast states: Maine, second warmest; Pennsylvania, third warmest; Massachusetts, fourth warmest; Connecticut and Rhode Island, fifth warmest; Maryland, sixth warmest; West Virginia, seventh warmest; and Delaware and New Jersey, ninth warmest. Overall, winter average temperatures for the states ranged from 2.8 degrees F above normal in Delaware to 6.7 degrees F above normal in Vermont. Winter 2023-24 was the warmest winter on record for six major climate sites: Burlington, Vermont; Caribou, Maine; and Syracuse, Binghamton, Albany, and Rochester, New York. A few major climate sites including Worcester, Massachusetts; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Syracuse, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Rochester, New York, set or tied their record for fewest number of winter days with a minimum temperature of 32 degrees F or lower. Additionally, several sites experienced their warmest low temperature of February or the winter season. For example, Burlington, Vermont, did not fall below 3 degrees F all winter, its warmest low temperature for the season and only the second winter (2001-02 was the other) without a below-zero temperature.

Precipitation

The Northeast experienced its sixth driest February in 130 years of recordkeeping, seeing 1.19 inches of precipitation, 43 percent of normal. Maine had its driest February on record, while Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont had their second driest February. It was the fifth driest February on record for Rhode Island, the seventh driest for Connecticut, and the 10th driest for Delaware. Meanwhile, New Jersey had its 11th driest February on record, while Pennsylvania had its 14th driest. Overall, February precipitation at the 12 Northeast states ranged from 15 percent of normal in Maine to 87 percent of normal in West Virginia. The Northeast had its 12th wettest winter on record with 11.81 inches of precipitation, 121 percent of normal. Winter precipitation for the 12 Northeast states ranged from 100 percent of normal in West Virginia to 156 percent of normal in Connecticut. This winter ranked among the 20 wettest on record for nine states: Connecticut and Delaware, third wettest; New Jersey, fourth wettest; Rhode Island, fifth wettest; Maryland and New York, seventh wettest; Massachusetts, eighth wettest; Pennsylvania, 14th wettest; and New Hampshire, 19th wettest. Winter 2023-24 was the wettest winter on record for four major climate sites: Hartford, Connecticut; Binghamton, New York; and Scranton and Allentown, Pennsylvania. A few major climate sites including Bridgeport, Connecticut; Kennedy Airport, New York; Washington, D.C.; and Harrisburg and Allentown, Pennsylvania, set or tied their record for greatest number of winter days with at least an inch of precipitation.

Drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor from February 6 showed less than one percent of the Northeast in severe drought, less than one percent in moderate drought, and three percent as abnormally dry. Recovering groundwater levels led to improvements in southeastern Massachusetts, with severe drought easing on Nantucket, moderate drought improving on Martha’s Vineyard, and abnormal dryness erased from Cape Cod. Additionally, enough precipitation fell in southwestern West Virginia to ease abnormal dryness there. However, with limited precipitation during February, pockets of moderate drought and/or abnormal dryness persisted in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. The U.S. Drought Monitor from February 27 showed less than one percent of the Northeast in moderate drought and three percent as abnormally dry. At times during February, a few locations including western New York, western Pennsylvania, and parts of West Virginia saw below-normal or much below-normal 7-day streamflow, based on USGS streamgages. Additionally, below-normal or lower groundwater levels were reported during the month in places like western and central New York, western Pennsylvania, and Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Notable Weather

On February 28, an EF-1 tornado downed trees and power lines and damaged a home and other property in Broome County, New York. It was the county’s first winter tornado since records began in 1950. The Great Lakes experienced record-low ice cover during parts of February, contributing to a localized lake-effect snowfall event on February 29 that brought Syracuse, New York, 10 inches of snow, its largest daily snowfall of winter 2023-24. February 2024 ranked as the least snowy February on record for Binghamton and Albany, New York. Warm winter conditions and below-normal snowfall had several impacts on the region. According to modeled data from the USA National Phenology Network, the first signs of spring leaf-out arrived around three weeks early in Washington, D.C. Some New England and New York maple syrup farmers noted the maple season started earlier than usual. Little snowfall and/or muddy conditions in northern Maine caused events like the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Race to be cancelled or moved to a different location. A lack of ice on waterways limited ice fishing opportunities in Maine and New York, where several derbies were cancelled. The winter weather also limited opportunities and created unsafe ice conditions for snowmobiling in New York, with revenue losses expected for local businesses.

For more information, please visit the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)

Temperature

The average February temperature for the Midwest was 36.1 degrees F (2.3 degrees C), which was 9.8 degrees F (5.4 degrees C) above the 1991-2020 normal. Based on preliminary rankings, February was the warmest on record, dating back to 1895. The entire region was warm, ranging from 6 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) above normal in the southeast to 14 degrees F (7.8 degrees C) above normal in the northwest. Preliminary statewide average temperatures ranged from 6.1 degrees F (3.4 degrees C) above normal in Kentucky to 12.8 degrees F (7.1 degrees C) above normal in Minnesota. Preliminary rankings list all nine states with a top ten warmest February: IL (3rd), IN (3rd), IA (1st), KY (8th), MI (2nd), MN (2nd), MO (2nd), OH (4th), and WI (2nd). The month was characterized by unseasonal warmth that persisted week after week. The only notable temperature drop came in late February, associated with a strong but short-lived cold front that traversed the region on February 28, dropping temperatures by 30-60 degrees F (16-33 degrees C) in 24 hours. Most long-running weather stations across the upper Midwest had the warmest February on record, with those across the lower Midwest within the top 5 warmest. Locations regionwide had a record-setting number of days with high temperatures at or above 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). Wisconsin’s all-time warmest February temperature was set on February 27 when Kenosha reached 77 degrees F (25 degrees F). West Plains, Missouri, tied the state’s all-time warmest temperature for the month when it reached 89 degrees F (31.7 degrees C) on February 28. The preliminary average winter (December-February) temperature for the Midwest was 32.3 degrees F (0.2 degrees C), which was 6.8 degrees F (3.8 degrees C) above normal. Preliminary rankings indicate the Midwest had the warmest winter on record, and it was the first time winter temperatures averaged above the freezing mark.

Precipitation

February precipitation totaled 0.91 inches (23 mm) for the Midwest, which was 0.93 inches (24 mm) below normal, or 49 percent of normal. Precipitation deficits of 1.5 to 3.5 inches (38.1 to 88.9 mm) were widespread across the central and lower Midwest, with deficits of 0.5 to 1.5 inches (12.7 to 38.1 mm) across Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Only eastern Kentucky and northern Minnesota had above-normal precipitation. Preliminary statewide precipitation totals ranged from 0.2 inches (5 mm) below normal in Minnesota to 1.62 inches (41 mm) below normal in Missouri. Preliminary rankings indicate Iowa had its 3rd driest February while Illinois had its 4th driest. The Midwest region tied for the 10th driest February. Preliminary total winter (December-February) precipitation was 5.95 inches (151.1 mm), which was 0.2 inches (5.1 mm) below normal for the season.

Drought

Dry conditions expanded during February, ending the month with about 73 percent of the region abnormally dry or in drought compared with 54 percent of the region to start the month. Only Kentucky ended the month free of any drought or dryness. The epicenter of drought severity remained parked over Iowa, where 79 percent of the state was affected by moderate (D1) to extreme (D3) drought on the US Drought Monitor map. Abnormal dryness spread across Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan, while moderate (D1) drought expanded across the upper Midwest. Dry conditions resulted in several brushfires and hotspots in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa.

Snowfall

February snowfall totals were highly variable across the region, ranging from 15 to 20 inches (38.1 to 50.8 cm) across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to no measurable snow at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. A swath of snow totaled 2 to 7.5 inches (5.1 to 19.1 cm) for February from St. Louis eastward through central Ohio, with most of it accumulating on February 17. Similarly, 2 to 7.5 inches (5.1 to 19.1 cm) fell in February across southern Minnesota into northern Wisconsin, with most of that snow from a single storm on February 15. Eastern Iowa and the surrounding region (Driftless Area) measured less than a half-inch (1.3 cm) of snow for the month, whereas that region would typically have 8 to 12 inches (20.3 to 30.5 cm). The entire Midwest, except a small area of southern Illinois, had below-normal snowfall, with deficits of 5 to 25 inches (12.7 to 63.5 cm) across the upper Midwest. The region also had a remarkable lack of snow cover throughout the month as warm temperatures rapidly melted any snow soon after it fell. Much of the region saw bare ground for the majority of February.

Notable Weather

February Tornadoes: Unseasonable weather patterns brought severe weather to the Midwest on multiple days. On February 8, a strong low pressure system funneled warm and unstable air into southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and eastern Iowa, triggering severe thunderstorms with hail and tornadoes. Two confirmed tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin, becoming the first recorded February tornadoes in the state. A tornado was also confirmed in central Illinois. On February 10, two confirmed tornadoes touched down in Indiana and Kentucky as a strong cold front traversed the lower Midwest. A potent weather system brought widespread severe weather to the central Midwest on February 27-28, including 22 confirmed tornadoes across Illinois (11), Indiana (1), Michigan (2), and Ohio (8), and nearly 200 preliminary reports of hail and severe wind.

For more information, please visit the Midwest Climate Watch Home page.

Southeast (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)

Temperature

Temperatures were above average across much of the Southeast in February, except the Florida Peninsula, where temperatures were below average. The greatest departures were found across northern portions of Alabama and Georgia, western portions of North Carolina, and western and northern portions of Virginia, where mean temperatures were 4 to 6 degrees F (2.2 to 3.4 degrees C) above average for the month. Temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees F (1.1 to 1.8 degrees C) above average across central portions of Alabama and Georgia, the Upstate of South Carolina, and central and eastern portions of North Carolina and Virginia, while much of North Florida, southern Alabama and Georgia, and eastern South Carolina were 1 to 2 degrees F (0.5 to 1.1 degrees C) above average for the month. Across the Florida Peninsula, mean temperatures were 1 to 2 degrees F (0.5 to 1.1 degrees C) below average for the month, with some locations across South Florida as much as 4 degrees F (2.2 degrees C) below average. Temperatures were above average across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Saint Croix tied its third warmest February on record (since 1951), which included a record monthly high minimum temperature of 81 degrees F (27.2 degrees C) on the 5th. This broke the previous record of 79 degrees F (26.1 degrees C) set back on February 8, 1998. Unseasonably warm weather was observed across the region from the 10th to the 13th of the month. Mean temperatures were 10 to 20 degrees F (5.6 to 11.1 degrees C) above average across a large portion of the region. Maximum temperatures reached 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C) as far north as southeastern Virginia. More warm weather was observed at the end of the month (except across Florida), with temperatures again running 10 to 20 degrees F (5.6 to 11.1 degrees C) above average from the 26th to the 28th. Maximum temperatures reached 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) across central and southern portions of Alabama and Georgia. The coldest weather of the month occurred on the 18th and 19th, with mean temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees F (2.8 and 5.6 degrees C) below average across much of the region. Subfreezing temperatures were observed as far south as the Big Bend region of Florida. This cool streak in Florida extended through the 27th of the month due to persistent cloud cover and precipitation, with many locations across the Peninsula running up to 5 degrees F (2.8 degrees C) below average.

Precipitation

Precipitation was variable across the Southeast in February. The wettest locations were found across central portions of Alabama and Georgia, eastern portions of South Carolina, and the southern half of Florida, where monthly totals ranged from 1 to 3 inches (25 to 76 mm) above average (125 to 200 percent of normal). Much of this precipitation fell between the 12th and 13th of the month. Columbus, GA recorded 7.03 inches (179 mm), making it the fifth wettest two-day period for any month (since 1891). On the 12th, Macon, GA recorded its fifth wettest day on record (since 1892) with 3.63 inches (92 mm), while Athens, GA recorded its sixth wettest day on record (since 1898) with 3.06 inches (78 mm). In contrast, the driest locations were found across the northern Gulf Coast, northern portions of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, and all of North Carolina, where monthly totals were 1 to 3 inches (25 to 76 mm) below average (less than 50 percent of normal). Bay Minette, AL, located along the Gulf Coast, recorded just 0.86 inches (22 mm) of precipitation, making it the driest February on record (since 1913). Lincolnton, NC recorded 0.94 inches (24 mm), which ranked as the fourth driest February on record (since 1953). Charlotte, NC also recorded 0.94 inches (24 mm), while Pensacola, FL recorded 1.37 inches (35 mm), both less than one-third of their expected monthly totals. Precipitation was above average across the Caribbean. Aibonito, located in the central portion of Puerto Rico at more than 2,400 feet (732 m) elevation, recorded its wettest February on record (since 1906) with 8.34 inches (212 mm), breaking the previous record of 8.27 inches (210 mm) set back in 1998. Saint Croix also recorded its wettest February on record (since 1951) with 4.94 inches (125 mm), breaking the previous record of 4.84 inches (123 mm) set in 2022. Much of this precipitation fell on the 6th and 7th of the month. Many locations recorded 2 to 3 inches (51 to 76 mm) over this two-day period, with some CoCoRaHS gauges in the U.S. Virgin Islands recording over 4 inches (102 mm). On the 7th, Saint Croix recorded its wettest February day on record (since 1951) with 2.73 inches (69 mm), breaking the previous record of 2.44 inches (62 mm) set on February 26, 1979. Winter precipitation was below-average during February. On the 13th, up to 3 inches (76 mm) of snow was reported across portions of western and northern Virginia. Some measurable snow was also reported in western North Carolina and northern Virginia on the 17th and 18th. Trace amounts of snow were reported on Wallops Island in eastern Virginia in the wake of a strong cold front on the 24th. The next day, around 2 inches (51 mm) of snow was reported on Mount Mitchell in western North Carolina, the only measurable snowfall of the month. This ranks as the fifth lowest snowfall total for February on record (since 1926).

Drought

Drought conditions improved in some parts of the Southeast and worsened in other areas, yielding little overall change throughout the month. Moderate (D1) drought was eliminated across northern portions of Alabama and Georgia, as well as along the West Coast of Florida, with small areas of abnormal dryness (D0) remaining at the end of the month. On the other hand, moderate (D1) drought emerged across northeastern North Carolina, while abnormal dryness (D0) expanded across eastern portions of the Carolinas and coastal Alabama. By the end of the month, more than 85 percent of the region was free of any drought designation. There was also relatively little change in drought conditions across Puerto Rico. Moderate (D1) drought persisted across the northwest, southwest, and eastern portions of the island, with abnormal dryness (D0) found elsewhere, except across the northeast and southeast coasts (including San Juan). In contrast, drought conditions improved in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Saint Thomas improved from severe (D2) to moderate (D1) drought, while Saint John and Saint Croix were free of any drought designation at the end of the month.

Agriculture

Many crops benefited from the warm temperatures in February, including small grains, cover crops, and fruit trees, some of which began to blossom after receiving sufficient chill hours throughout the winter. Some early varieties of peaches and blueberries also started to bloom during the month. Winter grazing and cool season pastures improved in many places due to the warm temperatures and beneficial precipitation, helping boost hay inventories. Generally above average temperatures and dry weather across large portions of the region also allowed farmers to prepare fields for spring planting. Water tables were replenished in many places, which will help with irrigation during the growing season. On the other hand, heavy precipitation and high winds caused damage to strawberries in central Florida. Heavy precipitation also resulted in flooded fields across parts of central Georgia, which may delay the harvest of winter wheat and planting of spring crops. Despite the warmer temperatures in February, some crops in Alabama remained in poor condition due to the cold weather over the previous couple of months. Additionally, some cattle producers in Florida struggled to provide forage due to the cool and wet conditions across much of the state.

Notable Weather

There were 115 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in February, which is above the median frequency of 76 reports over the period 2000 to 2022 (151 percent of normal). There were 10 confirmed tornadoes (6 EF-0s, 3 EF-1s, 1 EF-2), which is above the median frequency of nine (111 percent of normal). Six of these tornadoes occurred on the 4th of the month across extreme southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. The strongest tornado was an EF-2 that destroyed multiple mobile homes and outbuildings and injured two people in Lowndes County in southern Georgia. The remaining tornadoes (all EF-0s) occurred across South Florida and the Florida Keys (Cudjoe and Big Torch Keys) on the 18th of the month. There were 88 wind reports in February, which is above the median frequency of 56 reports (157 percent of normal). Wind gusts over 50 mph (22 m/s) were recorded across eastern portions of the Carolinas in the wake of a departing cyclone on the 13th of the month. On the 28th, wind gusts between 50 and 60 mph (22 and 27 m/s) were recorded ahead of a cold front across northern portions of Alabama and Georgia, and central and eastern portions of Virginia and the Carolinas. Greenville, SC recorded a gust of 59 mph (26 m/s), which is the highest gust for any winter (December-February) day and sixth highest gust for any day on record (since 1942). There were 16 hail reports in February, which is above the median frequency of 11 reports (145 percent of normal). The largest hailstone was golf ball-sized, or 1.75 inches (44 mm), in the community of Spruce Pine in Franklin County in northwestern Alabama on the 12th of the month. On the 5th, Miami, FL recorded its lowest winter season (December-February) surface pressure on record as a strong cyclone tracked across the Florida Peninsula. The value of 998.9 mb broke the previous record of 999.0 mb set on February 4, 1998. On the evening of the 17th, a weather balloon launched by the National Weather Service at Dulles Airport in northern Virginia recorded a wind speed of 265 mph (118 m/s) at approximately 35,000 feet (10.6 km) due to a very strong jet stream, making it the second strongest upper-level wind recorded from that location (since 1950). Over 2 inches (51 mm) of precipitation fell at Daytona Beach, FL on the 17th and 18th of the month, forcing the Daytona 500 NASCAR race to be postponed to the 19th. There was one rip current fatality in Puerto Rico on the 13th of the month.

For more information, please visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)

February capped off a very typical El Niño pattern for the High Plains, with warmer temperatures and below normal precipitation across the northern portions of the region. These conditions this winter took a toll, with the impacts rearing their head in late February. Snow was hard to come by, with the historic snow drought continuing through this month. Snowpack is at or near record lows, with measures being taken to account for the low runoff this year. On the flipside, the low snowpack has reduced the chances of flooding this spring drastically. Outside of a cold snap in the middle of January, unseasonably warm temperatures have dominated. Plants began blooming weeks earlier than usual across Kansas and parts of Colorado and Nebraska. The dryness and warmer temperatures also led to a rash of wildfires late in the month, with the largest taking place outside North Platte, Nebraska. Wind gusts over 40 mph (64 km/h) rapidly spread the fire, with over 71,000 acres (111 square miles) consumed by the fire. Minimal property damage occurred due to the sparse population of Lincoln County. However, a state disaster declaration was issued.

Temperature

Picking up where January left off, February brought record to near-record warmth for the region. Outside of a short but extreme cool down late in the month, temperatures were 9 degrees F (5 degrees C) or more above normal for most of the High Plains. After sizzling hot temperatures for much of the month, a swift and chilly front pushed through the region on the 27th. Temperatures dropped nearly 60 degrees F (33 degrees C) in 24 hours, with some places swinging from record highs to below-freezing in a mere day. This would be rather brief, as temperatures would quickly rebound by the end of the month. For the month and winter, most major locations ranked in the top 5 warmest. In a typical pattern for El Niño, the warmest temperatures were found in the Dakotas. For North Dakota, Fargo and Grand Forks ranked warmest this month and this winter. The eastern part of South Dakota was also exceptionally warm, with Sioux Falls ranking warmest for February and winter. While El Nino typically brings warmer temperatures, this winter was extraordinarily hot with only a few days being below normal.

Precipitation

Precipitation this month was finally ample in the west after missing out the previous several months. While it was beneficial and greatly needed, it did not improve the snow drought. In the eastern portions of the region, any form of precipitation was near minimal. The eastern parts of the High Plains were nearly bone-dry, with no form of precipitation whatsoever. Lincoln, Nebraska, and Mobridge, South Dakota recorded trace amounts of snowfall in February, tying their lowest snowfall for the month. The areas around Omaha, Nebraska, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota received less than 0.10 inches (2.54 mm) of precipitation this month, leading to concerns heading into spring. In the west, parts of Colorado tallied impressive totals for February. Pueblo recorded its wettest month on record, with 1.48 inches (3.76 cm) of precipitation. This total propelled them to record their wettest winter, with 3.11 inches (7.90 cm). Nearby Denver and Colorado Springs also ranked in the top 5 this month, with Colorado Springs also ranking 6th wettest this winter. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the snow drought was prevalent across the Dakotas. Warmer temperatures limited snowfall this winter, with many locations ranking in the top 10 lowest. While snowfall amounts were low, that did not necessarily mean low precipitation. Fargo, North Dakota recorded their second wettest winter with 3.83 inches (9.73 cm) of precipitation, while Sisseton, South Dakota ranked 4th with 3.92 inches (9.96 cm).

Drought

While overall drought conditions did not improve much this month, the intensity was reduced in the region. Precipitation did occur, albeit not desperately needed snow in the northern High Plains. Overall, the region experienced a minor reduction of less than 1 percent of D0 to D4 (abnormally dry to exceptional drought conditions). Drought began to reemerge across the Dakotas and northern Wyoming due to the snow drought. Parts of North Dakota did receive record precipitation this winter, however, this was predominantly rain or sleet. The lack of snowfall and warm temperatures have led to growing concerns that insect populations will be above normal this year in the state. On a more optimistic note, the region is now free of extreme drought (D3) for the first time since May 2020. The last remnants were erased in Colorado and Kansas this month, providing a sense of relief and optimism heading into spring. Elsewhere in the region, other improvements and degradation were observed.

For more information, please visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

South (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)

The largest well-documented wildfire in Texas state history began on February 26th, impacting large areas of the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. As of March 5th two fatalities had been confirmed, over 100 homes had been destroyed, thousands of cattle had been lost, and over a million acres had burned.

Temperature

Temperatures were above normal across the Southern Region during February, with the greatest departures in the northern areas of the Region. Stations in the southern portions of the Region were two to four degrees F above normal and stations in the northern portions were six to eight degrees F above normal for February. Statewide averages were well above normal for all states in the Region, with five top ten warmest Februarys on record: Arkansas (2nd warmest, out of 130 years), the Southern Region as a whole (3rd warmest), Texas (4th warmest), Oklahoma (5th warmest), Tennessee (7th warmest), Mississippi (14th warmest), and Louisiana (20th warmest). The warmest recorded temperature in the region was 100F at Robert Gray AAF/Ft. Hood, Texas on February 26th. The coldest recorded temperature was 1F at Clinton-Sherman Airport, Oklahoma on February 16th and Guthrie, Oklahoma on February 20th. Seven long-term stations in the Southern Region: across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas set records for highest maximum monthly temperature in February, with the biggest difference being at Calico Rock, Arkansas setting a record of 90F on February 28th breaking the old record set in 1918 by three degrees. No stations set records for lowest minimum monthly temperature in February.

Precipitation

Precipitation was generally below normal in the Southern Region during February with isolated areas of well above normal precipitation. Most stations in the Region recorded 50 to 90 percent of normal precipitation, while some stations in Deep South Texas, West Texas, and the Oklahoma Panhandle recorded between 150 to 300 percent of normal precipitation. State totals for the Southern Region were below normal in Arkansas (32nd driest), the Southern Region as a whole (39th driest), Louisiana (45th driest), and Mississippi (45th driest). Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee were near their historical median values. One station, a CoCoRaHS site, reported more than eight inches of precipitation for February: FSA-Oberlin, Louisiana (8.67 inches). A COOP station near St Joseph, Louisiana reported 6.21 inches of rain on February 12th. One long-term station at Henderson, Texas set a single day accumulation record for February with 4.20 inches on February 12th beating the old record set in 1932 out of 116 years of data.

Drought/Flooding

During February the Southern Region saw a mix of improvement and degradation in drought conditions. Widespread improvements took place across much of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, with some areas seeing up to three categories of improvement in drought conditions according to the US Drought Monitor. One to two classes of degradation were assigned to portions of West Texas, eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, coastal Mississippi, and Tennessee. Drought conditions in Far West Texas remained largely unchanged. There are currently no Exceptional Drought Conditions in the Southern Region as of March 5th. Oklahoma and Arkansas remain largely drought, free but Abnormally Dry conditions are emerging according to the US Drought Monitor. With widespread precipitation across the Region in January, soil moisture values have generally rebounded across the region. According to modeled soil moisture values from the Climate Prediction Center, much of the Region is averaging between the 30th and 70th historical percentile value for February, with areas of Far West Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi showing modeled values in the 10th through 30th percentile for February. Despite widespread improvements in drought conditions, flows on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis are still well below their historical mean values for this time of year. Impacts from ongoing drought in Mississippi include up to 12.5 million estimated dead trees due to drought and Pine Beetle infestations, limiting uses for salvage timber, and up to a fifty percent reduction in the annual duck migration through the area, partially due to no flood irrigation of fields from the ongoing drought.

Notable Weather

Despite generally above normal temperatures, a winter storm from February 10th through 12th brought heavy snow to portions of Texas and Oklahoma., The highest totals ranging from six to twelve inches across portions of the Texas Panhandle. Road closures and cancellation of events were common across the affected area. On February 26 and 27, multiple wildfires broke out and spread quickly, covering large portions of the Texas Panhandle and parts of western Oklahoma. The largest of these fires, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, quickly grew and as of March 7th, 2024 has burned approximately 1,059,570 acres and is still only 74% contained. It is currently the largest well-documented wildfire in Texas state history. As of March 5th, the Smokehouse Creek fire had destroyed at least 30 homes in Canadian, Texas and over 100 homes in Hutchinson County, Texas. Over 11,000 people were left without power. There have been two confirmed fatalities associated with the Smokehouse Creek Fire, but the true number may be higher. Upwards of 7,000 cattle have been killed by the wildfires, devastating local ranchers. Additionally, much of the burned acres are range land and fields used for cotton production further impacting farmers and ranchers in the area. Even herds that escaped the wildfires face trouble getting water and feed from producers due to power outages and ruptured water lines. In addition to Texas, over 140,000 acres were scorched in Oklahoma, with Oklahoma Emergency Management officials reporting the loss of at least 13 homes, as damage assessments continued through the month's end. Additionally, reports of lost livestock and other structures emerged. The true economic impact of the wildfires will not be known for some time. There were three tornadoes reported across the Southern Region in February: 1 rated EF0, 1 EF1, and 1 EF2, affecting Texas and Arkansas. On February 2nd an EF2 tornado hit Sagerton, Texas, causing damage to multiple structures. An EF1 tornado in East Sardis, Arkansas on February 9th caused damage to multiple buildings. On February 11th an EF0 tornado was reported near Richards, Texas; no damage was attributed to this storm. No fatalities or injuries were associated with tornadoes in the Region during February. There were 77 reports of hail across the Region in February, with the largest being 3.0 inches near Red Chute, Louisiana on February 11th. There were 42 severe wind reports with the fastest being 75 mph on February 28th near Alcoa, Tennessee.

For more information, please visit the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

West (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)

February brought above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation to most of the West. Eastern Montana and the northern Rockies saw the warmest temperatures relative to normal. A stronger than normal subtropical jet stream helped drive several strong atmospheric rivers into the coast of southern California and through the Southwest bringing heavy rainfall and flooding in some cases. Despite above normal precipitation in western Montana snowpack was at record low levels for some locations at the end of February leading to expansion of severe and extreme drought in the region.

Temperature

Temperatures in February were seven to ten degrees Fahrenheit above normal in eastern Montana and two to six degrees Fahrenheit above normal through much of Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, northeast Nevada, and New Mexico. Near-to-slightly below normal (-1 to -2 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures occurred in western Nevada, California, and most of Arizona. In eastern Montana, Glasgow had a mean temperature of 28.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 9.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and was the ninth warmest on record. Boise, Idaho saw its fifth warmest February on record at 41.9 degrees Fahrenheit and 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Baker City, in eastern Oregon, had its third warmest February since records began in 1944 at 38.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.1 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Periods of prolonged stormy conditions brought below normal temperatures to much of the southern California coast; some monthly mean temperature anomalies included -1.6 degrees Fahrenheit at Los Angeles Airport, -1.1 degrees Fahrenheit at San Diego, and -1.0 degrees Fahrenheit at Santa Barbara.

Precipitation

Most of the West saw above normal precipitation for February with many areas seeing more than 150 percent of normal. Much of Washington and some isolated parts of Oregon, Idaho, and New Mexico saw below normal precipitation for the month. A strong atmospheric river impacted southern California February 4-6 and contributed to a large fraction of the monthly rainfall totals for the region. Daily rainfall was extreme during this event with Culver City, California logging the wettest day (all months) on record with 7.09 inches on February 5. Many long-term stations in southern California finished in the top three wettest Februarys on record: Culver City was the wettest on record with 13.93 inches of precipitation (403 percent of normal), Los Angeles Airport was the third wettest on record with 10.02 inches of precipitation (335 percent of normal), and Los Angeles Downtown/USC was the fourth wettest on record with 12.66 inches of precipitation (348 percent of normal). Northern Utah and parts of Montana also had long-term stations in the top three wettest on record: Salt Lake City, Utah and Ennis, Montana saw the second wettest, and Norris, Montana the third wettest February on record.

Drought

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) at the end of February, 27 percent of the West was in drought. Areas of extreme (D3) and exceptional (D4) drought are found in far southeast Arizona, New Mexico, and western Montana. Despite the remaining drought in Arizona and New Mexico, much of the region saw one and two category improvements in February. In western Washington and southeast Montana one and two category drought degradations occurred.

Alaska Summary

Temperatures were above normal across most of Alaska with the warmest areas being the western and northern part of the state where anomalies were three to seven degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Southcentral Alaska and the Panhandle saw temperatures generally one to two degrees Fahrenheit above normal. King Salmon Airport recorded a monthly mean temperature of 28.3 degrees Fahrenheit and 6.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal; Utqiagvik had a monthly mean temperature of -7.3 degrees Fahrenheit and 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Precipitation was below normal for the Panhandle, Interior, and much of Southcentral and above normal for much of southwest Alaska. In the southern Panhandle, Petersburgh had its seventh driest February with 2.76 inches of precipitation at 36 percent of normal and Ketchikan also had its seventh driest February with 4.25 inches of precipitation at 36 percent of normal. On the wet side of things, Bethel saw its fourth wettest February, King Salmon the sixth wettest, and Utqiagvik the seventh wettest.

Hawaii Summary

It was a dry month across Hawaii with most of the long-term climate stations reporting well below normal February precipitation. Lihue received 0.92 inches of precipitation, 25 percent of normal, making it the 12th driest on record, Honolulu logged 0.30 inches, 15 percent of normal, for the sixth driest on record, and Molokai recorded 1.49 inches at 66 percent of normal. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor at the end of February, 66 percent of Hawaii was abnormally dry (D0) with ten percent in moderate drought (D1). During February, D0 was added to all of Kauai, Oahu, and much of Maui.

Notable Weather

Heavy rainfall revives ephemeral lake in Death Valley: Death Valley, California, received 1.27 inches of precipitation in February, all of which fell in four days at the beginning of the month. This helped to refill Lake Manly, at temporary lake, to about six miles long, three miles wide, and one foot deep allowing people a rare chance to kayak on the lake. The lake initially filled in 2023 after remnants of Hurricane Hilary dumped 2.20 inches of rain but prior to that the lake had not been full since 2005 after the regions wettest water year on record.

For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.


Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly National Climate Report for February 2024, published online March 2024, retrieved on July 14, 2024 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/national/202402.