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1-7: Heavy precipitation finally returned to northern California, starting on February 6, following nearly 7 weeks of dry weather. Moisture also spread inland across the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. However, warmth accompanied the initial surge of moisture, leading to high freezing levels and minimal snow accumulations except in the highest elevations. As a result, meager snowpack remains a concern with respect to summer water supply in many key watersheds, including the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. In addition, the Northwestern combination of heavy rain and melting snow led to local, late-week flooding. Farther east, the most significant snow storm of the season blanketed much of the Midwest with heavy snow on January 31 – February 1. Heavy, wind driven snow from Nebraska into the lower Great Lakes region Elsewhere, significant rain was limited to parts of the South, including previously dry areas across southern Florida. On February 1-2, wind-driven snow continued to spread from the Midwest into the Northeast, trailed by sharply colder weather. Daily record snowfall totals for February 1 included 16.2 inches in Chicago, IL; 14.7 inches in South Bend, IN; 13.7 inches in Detroit, MI; and 10.4 inches in Milwaukee, WI. Chicago also experienced its snowiest February day (previously, 13.6 inches on February 1, 2011) and fifth highest storm total (19.3 inches from January 31 – February 2; most recently topped by the 21.2-inch sum on the same dates in 2011). On February 1, peak wind gusts were clocked to 39 mph in Chicago; 43 mph in Rockford, IL, where 11.9 inches fell on January 31 – February 1; and 45 mph in Lincoln, NE, where 7.9 inches fell. The snowfall in Chicago and Rockford more than doubled the respective season-todate totals, which rose to 34.8 and 23.7 inches. By February 2, another round of heavy snow arrived in the Northeast, setting daily-record totals in Worcester, MA (17.4 inches); Boston, MA (16.2 inches); Bangor, ME (12.3 inches); and Hartford, CT (10.8 inches). Ten-day snowfall climbed to 58.7 inches in Worcester; 47.9 inches in Boston; 43.7 inches in Bangor; 33.5 inches in Islip, NY; and 30.1 inches in Providence, RI. By mid-week, precipitation was mostly confined to the northern and southern tiers of the U.S. Daily-record snowfall totals included 3.9 inches (on February 3) in Rochester, MN, and 3.5 inches (on February 4) in Riverton, WY. Cape Hatteras, NC, netted a daily-record rainfall (1.57 inches) for February 5. Toward week’s end, impressive rains arrived in northern California and the Northwest. By February 5, daily-record totals were established in western Washington locations such as Quillayute (2.10 inches) and Seattle (1.03 inches). A day later, record-setting amounts in California for February 6 reached 4.87 inches in Mt. Shasta City; 3.25 inches in Ukiah; 1.54 inches in Montague; and 1.35 inches in Sacramento. As the Pacific storm began to surge inland on February 6, wind gusts above 130 mph were clocked on Slide Mountain, NV, and Mt. Lincoln, CA. Precipitation pushed farther inland across the Northwest by February 7, when Stanley, ID, received a daily-record sum of 0.78 inch.

8-14: Rain fell in the southern Atlantic States, while snow continued to accumulate in parts of the winter-weary Northeast. Early in the week, heavy precipitation lingered across northern and central California. Record-setting totals in California for February 8 included 2.77 inches in Mt. Shasta City and 1.34 inches in Sacramento. In northwestern California, storm-total (February 5-9) rainfall topped 10 inches in several locations, with Honeydew receiving 16.60 inches. During the same 5-day period, Crescent City, CA, received 4.18 inches of rain, along with wind gusts greater than 60 mph on February 7 and 9. Elsewhere in California, San Francisco collected 2.01 inches of rain from February 6-8, following a completely dry January. Rain, not even a trace, had not fallen in San Francisco since December 24. Precipitation also spilled across the Sierra Nevada crest into western Nevada, where Reno (0.81 inch on February 8) netted a daily-record total. Meanwhile, two more major winter storms struck the northern Atlantic region, where Boston, MA, reported 22.2 inches of snow on February 8-9 and 16.2 inches on February 14- 15. In the 23-day period from January 24 – February 15, snowfall in Boston totaled 90.2 inches, or more than 7½ feet. Snowfall in Boston exceeded a foot on January 27 and February 2, 9, and 15, with respective amounts of 22.1, 16.2, 14.8, and 13.0 inches. Meanwhile in Maine, Bangor’s snow depth of 53 inches from February 9-11 tied an all-time station record. Periodic snow showers continued downwind of the Great Lakes, although collective ice coverage on the five lakes climbed to 82.3 percent by February 17—ahead of the 81.6 percent coverage on the same date a year ago. In northern Michigan, Marquette reported a daily-record snowfall (9.2 inches) on February 8. Farther west, light snow in advance of an Arctic cold front resulted in a daily-record total (0.23 inches on February 10, including 2.1 inches of snow) in Grand Forks, ND. A day later, Alexandria, MN, clocked a wind gust to 52 mph. Toward week’s end, exceptionally heavy rain fell in parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where King Airport on St. Thomas received 11.09 inches on February 13-14. Through the 14th, the month-to-date rainfall of 11.45 inches in St. Thomas easily surpassed its February 2006 standard of 4.83 inches.

15-21: A pair of late-winter storms produced snow in the Rockies and a mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain in the South, East, and lower Midwest. Significant snow fell early in the week from the mid-South to the southern Mid-Atlantic States, causing travel disruptions but providing insulation for soft red winter wheat. However, early-week snow coverage was thin and patchy in a few areas, including central sections of Illinois and Indiana. Later, the second storm deposited additional heavy snow from the Ohio Valley into the Mid-Atlantic States, while  rain or mixed precipitation fell farther south. Conversely, little or no precipitation fell west of the Rockies and from the northern Plains into the Great Lakes region. By week’s end, the average water content of the highelevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 5 inches, just one-fifth of the late-February normal. On February 15, the latest round of wind driven snow struck coastal New England. Boston, MA, received 13.0 inches of snow, boosting its 23-day (January 24 – February 15) total to 90.2 inches. It was the fourth time in 3 weeks—along with January 27, February 2, and February 9—that Boston’s daily snowfall topped a foot. Boston’s peak wind gust on February 15 reached 51 mph, while Nantucket, MA, clocked a gust to 65 mph. A day later, heavy snow spread from the mid-South into the Mid-Atlantic States. In Kentucky, record-setting totals for February 16 included 11.8 inches in Jackson, 10.8 inches in Paducah, and 10.2 inches in Lexington. It was the third-snowiest day on record in Paducah, behind 14.0 inches on December 22, 2004, and 11.0 inches on January 16, 1978. Other daily-record totals for February 16 reached 6.3 inches in Cincinnati, OH; 5.7 inches in Evansville, IN; and 4.8 inches in Springfield, MO. Snow also fell in portions of the Rockies and environs on February 16, when record-breaking totals in Wyoming included 3.3 inches in Casper and 2.9 inches in Lander. Meanwhile, rain across the South led to daily-record amounts in locations such as Monroe, LA (1.29 inches on February 16), and Gainesville, FL (1.08 inches on February 17). A weaker storm crossed the Ohio Valley at midweek, but still produced daily-record snowfall totals in Jackson, KY, and Cincinnati, OH—4.5 inches in both locations. By February 20-21, another significant, late-winter storm affected the Ohio Valley and surrounding regions, although precipitation types other than snow were more prevalent across the mid-South. During the 2-day event, Peoria, IL, received 11.8 inches of snow, including a daily-record amount (8.9 inches) on February 20. Record-setting totals for February 21 reached 8.9 inches at Dulles Airport in Virginia; 5.9 inches in Cincinnati, OH; and 5.0 inches in Wilmington, DE. Cincinnati’s weekly snowfall total climbed to 16.7 inches. Snow also returned to the Rockies and neighboring areas, where daily snowfall records for February 21 included 7.4 inches in Lander, WY, and 2.1 inches in Pocatello, ID. Meanwhile, heavy precipitation across the South led to record setting totals for the 21st in Jackson, TN (3.13 inches), and London, KY (2.94 inches). In the Southwest, persistent warmth led to daily record highs in Bishop, CA, on February 15-16 and 18-20.

22-28: Beneficial precipitation was focused across southern California and the Southwest. Farther north, key watershed areas of the Sierra Nevada received negligible precipitation, as California and the Great Basin face an almost certain fourth year of drought. The last week of February began with a substantial snow storm underway in parts of the southwestern and south-central U.S. Daily record snowfall amounts for February 22 included 4.3 inches in Dalhart, TX, and 3.8 inches in Dodge City, KS. On the strength of accumulations on February 22-23 and 27-28, Dalhart’s weekly snowfall climbed to 11.5 inches. In Colorado, record setting totals for the 22nd reached 9.1 inches in Alamosa and 5.7 inches in Pueblo, while storm-total (February 20-23) snowfall topped 3 feet at Coal Bank Pass. By February 23, ongoing stormy weather in the Southwest led to daily record snowfall totals in Kanab, UT (9.0 inches), and Flagstaff, AZ (6.5 inches). Daily record precipitation amounts for the 23rd included 1.30 inches in Flagstaff and 0.37 inch in Las Vegas, NV. Later, historic, late-season snowfall blanketed the South. Record setting amounts for February 25 totaled 8.1 inches in Huntsville, AL; 7.3 inches in Tupelo, MS; and 6.0 inches in Pine Bluff, AR. For Tupelo, this marked the second-highest daily total on record, behind only 8.0 inches on January 24, 1940. Huntsville’s 8.2-inch total, on February 25-26, marked its fourth-highest single-storm accumulation. Huntsville also experienced its snowiest February day—previously, 8.0 inches on February 15, 1958—and achieved a February snowfall record (8.8 inches; previously, 8.0 inches in 1895 and 1958). Farther east, 3- day (February 24-26) snowfall in North Carolina totaled 7.7 inches in Greensboro and 6.5 inches in Raleigh-Durham. Meanwhile, Pueblo’s weekly snowfall climbed to 19.6 inches, aided by a daily-record amount of 7.4 inches on February 26. Elsewhere in Colorado, Denver attained a February snowfall record (22.4 inches), edging its 1912 standard of 22.1 inches. Toward week’s end, another round of frozen precipitation swept across the nation’s southern tier. Albuquerque, NM, measured 9.6 inches of snow from February 26-28. In Texas, record-setting snowfall totals for February 27 included 4.6 inches in Lubbock; 2.0 inches in Dallas-Ft. Worth; and 1.7 inches in Abilene. Meanwhile, precipitation spread across the Northwest, where Yakima, WA, tallied a daily record total (0.54 inch) for February 27.


Jim G. Munley, jr.

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