February 2012 in Washington, D.C. ranked 4th warmest on record (since 1871)

The warm and dry themes of January carried right on into February, which allowed 2012 to record the first top-ten warm February of the 2000s - fourth warmest to be exact. Our average monthly temperature of 44.3 degrees was 5.3 degrees above average and a remarkable 19.7 degrees warmer than the all-time coldest February of 1934 (average temperature of 24.6 degrees). On the flip side, it was 2.6F colder than the all-time warmest February in 1976 (average temperature of 46.9 degrees).

The extra day for Leap Year gave precipitation as boost as we saw the most rainfall of any day with 1.44” at Reagan National. This reduced our deficit for the month to a mere -0.29” and our annual deficit down to -0.91”. Snowfall was a paltry 0.3” for the month, 4.5” below normal.

Washington spent most of its February days in the 50s or higher

Washington, D.C.’s February low temperatures were mainly in the 30s and 40s

Upper level weather patterns in February supported warm weather over much of the Lower 48

Meteorological Winter

And as we all know, this winter has also been characterized by its dearth of snow. Sure enough, the meteorological winter also landed in the top ten least snowy seasons with only 2” (tying with 2008-09).

And March?

The warm pattern rages onward. The indications from nearly all sources right now favor a warmer-than-normal March, but one aspect that may change is the precipitation story. The increasingly active storm track and jet stream pattern could push the region back toward seasonal or surplus precipitation in March.

I have looked back at other big warm March periods, and it is not out of the question to see occasional days in the 70s and even a spike or two into the 80s (already!). Typically such big March warm spikes are characterized by low humidity (so no need to worry about AC yet) and short durations (usually just a day). And March is still volatile enough that we can’t rule out a stray snowflake in a brief cool-to-cold push.

Link: National Weather Service’s latest March outlook update (issued yesterday) .

For Further Information

The National Weather Service publishes nice monthly assessments usually within a week of the close of each month (should be available shortly):

You can click on your closest airport location here:

Reagan National (DCA)

Dulles Airport (IAD)

Baltimore-Washington (BWI)

The National Weather Service also released a recap of meteorological winter.

Historical Washington, DC data provided by Speedwell Weather and NOAA. Also, check out Ian’s excellent rundown on February climatology .