February 2021 Recap: New York Trudges Through One of Snowiest Februarys On Record
February 2021 was 1.1 degrees colder than average, and the eighth snowiest February on record, with 26.0” measured. More than half of the snow fell on Feb. 1, when 14.8” piled up (in total, the storm produced 17.4”). This was the largest accumulation ever reported on the first day of February. Another highlight of the month was the severe Arctic outbreak in the middle of the month that plunged Texas, the southern Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley into the deep-freeze, but barely brushed New York. Although the month was colder than average, the coldest reading was just 17° (the month's only reading in the teens). The month's colder than average status was driven by the average high, which was 2.7 degrees colder than average; meanwhile, the average low was slightly above average (+0.5 degree). Finally, with 5.13" of precipitation, the month was among the ten wettest Februarys since 1930 (and 21st wettest going back to 1869).
This was New York's coldest February since 2015 and the first colder-than-average month since May 2020. It was also the first year since 2015 in which neither January or February had any readings of 60° or milder. The 15-day period between Feb. 7 and 21 was five degrees colder than average (high/low of 35°/25°), with all but one of the days colder than average (10.2" of snow fell during this period). Temperatures rebounded during the last six days of the month, and were six degrees milder than average (high/low of 48°/38°); temperatures were above freezing for the entire period.
Like January, there was just a 37-degree range between February's coldest and mildest readings (17° and 54° in February, 14° and 51° in January). Since 1950, the typical range has been 49 degrees (11° and 60°); during these year just six other Februarys have had a smaller range, most recently in 2010 (29 degrees). Meanwhile, the month's average diurnal variation (the difference between the high and low temperature) was just 9.5 degrees (February's average is 13.5 degrees), making it just the fourth February with a diurnal variation less than 10 degrees. (The others were in 2010, 1969 and 1869.) This was only the second Jan./Feb. in which both months had diurnal variations less than ten degrees. (The other time it happened was in 1869.) Jan./Feb. 2021’s diurnal variation of 9.7 degrees beat out 1869's by 0.1 degree for smallest variation.
This winter’s December-February combo was the ninth snowiest on record. It joined four other pairs from this century (the other five happened before the winter of 1962).
February 2021 joined sixteen other Februarys that had 20 inches or more of snow. It was milder than all but two of them (February 1983 and 2006).
Looking at December thru March, February 2021 ranks as the fifteenth snowiest month, just 0.1" behind Feb. 2003, Jan. 1996 and Feb. 1894. This February's hefty snow accumulation was quite a contrast to last February, which saw just a trace.
Here are other February recaps:
this was the twelfth February on record with no low temps of 32° or colder in the last six days of the month. all but one of these twelve years have happened since 1954. the other year was 1877 and only one of these twelve years was a leap year, which was 2000, so February of that year had no low temps of 32° or colder in the last seven days of February 2000. this was also the first year since 2003, and the seventeenth year since 1900, where neither January nor February had any days with a high of 55° or warmer. not only was the 14.8” of snow that fell on Feb. 1 the biggest accumulation that ever occurred on the first day of February, but also the biggest accumulation of any individual calendar month on record.
Posted by: William | 03/02/2021 at 10:10 AM
This was the flip side of last February, which began with the first seven days all having temperatures above 32.
Posted by: Rob | 03/02/2021 at 04:55 PM
With 26.0 inches of snow, February 2021 had more snow than the five previous Februarys combined.
4.0 + 9.4 + 4.9 + 2.6 + T = 20.9
20.9 < 26.0
Posted by: Henry | 03/03/2021 at 12:30 PM
Interesting about the small diurnal variations. If I had been asked before your study, I would have assumed that most of them would be of recent vintage, due to the buildup in volume of cars and size of buildings in Manhattan. Yet the list is surprisingly spread out over all eras.
Posted by: Ken K. in NJ | 03/05/2021 at 11:24 AM
this was the third consecutive month to feature four days with a high of 32° or colder. interestingly, last February was the third consecutive month to feature one day with a high of 32° or colder.
Posted by: William | 03/06/2021 at 10:10 PM
has Central Park ever experienced consecutive seasons where all of the snow fell during meteorological winter? if so, when has this happened before?
Posted by: William | 03/07/2021 at 08:48 PM
No, but there have been two instances where there were meteorological winters like this that were two years apart: 1900-01 and 1902-03, and 2007-08 and 2009-10. As I'm sure you're aware, we could experience a back-to-back situation for the first time if the next two months stay snow-free (measurable snow).
Posted by: Rob | 03/08/2021 at 09:49 AM
among the fifteen winters, including 2021, that have had all of the measurable snow during meteorological winter, only the winter of 2010 (51.4") has had more snow than this winter (38.6"), and actually, all of the other thirteen winters of this kind have had less than thirty inches of snow throughout the season's entirety. moreover, all but one of the fifteen winters have happened since 1900 (the other one was in 1877-1878 when 8.1" fell).
Posted by: William | 09/08/2021 at 07:49 PM