This winter was the warmest on record, and last month was the second warmest February on record, says NOAA. But you wouldn’t guess it if you live in the eastern U.S., where temperatures ran well-below average in February.
Across the globe’s land and oceans, February was 1.48 degrees above the 20th century average. But in pretty much the entire eastern half of North America, it was a much colder picture — and strikingly similar to what the region saw in February 2014.
“In February 2015, cooler to much-cooler-than average conditions overtook the entire eastern half of the United States and the eastern third of Canada, with some record cold pockets seen around the Great Lakes region and part of northeastern Canada near Hudson Bay,” writes NOAA. “In stark contrast to the eastern United States, the western United States was encompassed by record warmth. The warm-cold pattern over the country has been observed over much of the past two years.”
In addition to being the second-warmest February on record, NOAA says the past three months also comprise the warmest winter — December to February — 0n record. In case that’s not warm enough, the past 12 months have been the warmest 12-month period on record, as well.
The bifurcated temperature assessment will come as no surprise to New England, which as been buried in snow and blasted by cold this winter, or California, which remains in an epic, multi-year drought.
With an average temperature of just 14.2 degrees, February was the coldest month — out of any month — on record for Worcester, Mass. Records for coldest month overall were also set in Bangor, Maine, where the average temperature was 6.1 degrees; Marquette, Mich.; and Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y. Perhaps what’s most impressive about these records is how much they surpassed the old — 3 degrees in Syracuse and 2.3 in Bangor, which is a landslide in terms of monthly records, which typically are broken by fractions of degrees.
But alas, the Northeast U.S. is not the globe, where pretty much everyone else saw above-normal temperatures in not only February but all three winter months as well.
“The majority of the world’s land surfaces, however, were warmer than average,” says NOAA, “with much-warmer-than average temperatures widespread across Central America, northern and central South America, Australia, most of Africa, and much of Eurasia, including a broad swath that covered most of Russia.”
In the U.S., this past winter was the warmest on record in the states of Washington, California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. California saw mind-boggling warmth over the past three months, which “bested the previous seasonal record that occurred just last year by 1.5 degrees,” says NOAA.
But the Mid-Atlantic wasn’t feeling the warmth last month. In the D.C. area, February was the coldest such month since 1979, with an average temperature of 30.3 degrees at Reagan National Airport. “After a mild December and chilly, but tranquil January, February 2015 was almost like an entire winter wrapped up into just one month,” said CWG contributor Matt Rogers.