A freakishly balmy February broke more than 11,700 local daily records for warmth in the United States, but it didn’t quite beat 1954 for the warmest February on record, climate scientists said.
The average temperature last month was 41.2 degrees – 7.3 degrees warmer than normal but three-tenths a degree behind the record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday.
It was unseasonably toasty for most of the country east of the Rockies, but a cool Pacific Northwest kept the national record from falling, said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch.
Chicago had no snow.
Oklahoma hit 99 degrees.
Texas and Louisiana had their hottest February.
NOAA said local weather stations broke or tied warm temperature records 11,743 times but set cold records only 418 times.
The February precipitation total was 2.21 inches, 0.08 inch above the 20th century average, and ranked near the median value in the 123-year period of record.
Above-average precipitation across the West offset below-average precipitation in the Midwest and along the East Coast.
The winter precipitation total was 8.22 inches, 1.43 inches above average, the eighth wettest on record.
This was the wettest winter since 1998 for the Lower 48.
An international science team’s computer analysis of causes of extreme weather calculated that man-made global warming tripled the likelihood for the nation’s unusually warm February.
The mostly private team of researchers, called World Weather Attribution, uses accepted scientific techniques to figure if climate change plays a role in extreme events based on computer simulations of real world conditions and those without heat-trapping gases.
‘I don’t recall ever seeing a February like this,’ said Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi, who was part of the quick attribution study that was not peer reviewed.
‘We expect this to happen with more and more frequency over time.’
Several outside scientists praised the quick study including Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor David Titley, who was on a National Academy of Sciences panel that certified the accuracy of climate change attribution science.