February weather breaks new ground
Hardy souls who shivered and shovelled their way through February in the US Northeast now have evidence of just how brutal the weather was, with record cold in seven cities and record snowfall in Boston.
"We're the standout globally," said Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Regional Climate Centre at Cornell University. "It's colder in Siberia, but we're the farthest below normal."
The climate centre shows the New York cities of Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton and Ithaca had their coldest months ever. The average temperature was 10.9 degrees Fahrenheit (-11.7 degrees Celsius) in Buffalo, beating the 1934 record of 11.4 F (-11.4 Celsius). The normal average temperature for February in Buffalo is 26.3 F (-3.2 C).
The monthly average was 9 F (-12.8 C) in Syracuse, 12.2 F (-11 C) in Binghamton and 10.2 Fahrenheit (-12.1 Celsius) in Ithaca. Syracuse and Ithaca each had 14 days of 0 F (-18 C) or below temperatures, a February record.
There were also February records elsewhere. Record low average temperatures for the month were set in Hartford, Connecticut, at 16.1 F (-8.8 C); Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at 20.9 F (-6.17 C) ; and Portland, Maine at 13.8 F (-10.1 C). That's more than 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) below normal for each city. Caribou, Maine's average February temperature of 2.5 degrees F (-16.4 C) was also a record low, Mr DeGaetano said.
Boston's 64.8 inches (164.6 centimeters) of snow easily beat the city's old record of 41.6 inches (105.7 centimetres). If the city gets 5.6 more inches (14.2 more centimetres) before the end of May, it'll be the snowiest winter on record, Mr DeGaetano said. Until February 26, Boston had 102 inches (259.1 centimetres) of snow. Normal is 34 inches (86.4 centimetres).
Providence, Rhode Island, had a February record 31.8 inches (80.8 centimetres) of snow, bringing the season's total to nearly 60 inches (152.4 centimetres), twice the normal amount.
Total snowfall for the season is way above normal across the Northeast, according to the National Weather Service. As of February 26, Worcester, Massachusetts had 108.6 inches (275.8 centimetres), compared to a normal snowfall of 49.9 inches (126.75 centimetres).
So what's to blame for frozen February?
"We can't point to anything specific," Mr DeGaetano said. "It's just the way the jet stream bulged and set up. It's random, like a deal of cards. Sometimes you're dealt a royal flush, sometimes you get nothing."