Second Coldest Month on Record

By Russell Russ

This February will be remembered by millions of people for a long time. Many cities from Pennsylvania to Maine to upstate New York have reported that this February was their coldest month on record. These records only go back a hundred years or so, but still it was impressively cold. It was certainly a cold one in Norfolk as well, but it ended up being our second coldest month in over 83 years, and very nearly our third coldest. No, it was not the coldest, but here in Norfolk anything in the top ten for coldest means it was real cold. It was also a month with above average snowfall. Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut hit the snowfall jackpot with record amounts of snowfall.

February’s low temperature of minus 12 degrees was observed on February 16 and the high of 35 degrees was observed on February 22. During a few of the colder days a few colder locations reported temperatures of minus 15 to minus 18. With an average mean temperature of 10.9 degrees it was 11.1 degrees colder than normal for Norfolk and our second coldest month on record. Hartford’s record setting monthly temperature was 16.1 degrees. According to our records, Norfolk’s top five coldest months since January 1932: Feb 1934 with 9.0, Feb 2015 with 10.9, Feb 1979 with 11.0, Dec 1989 with 11.5 and Jan 1982 with 11.7 degrees.

February is typically when we get most of our lowest daily temperature readings of the year. There were nine days this month with below zero temperatures and only two days with temperatures that were above freezing. We got close to daily low records on several occasions, but only the minus 10 on February 24 set a daily record, beating the minus 5 set on that date back in 1985.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.55 inches, 1.06 inches below normal. All of the precipitation that fell this month was in the form of snow. The monthly snowfall total of 32.4 inches was 12.1 inches above normal. It was our 14th snowiest February on record. Last February’s total of 35.7 inches was ranked eighth. Our snowiest February was in 1969 when we measured 52.4 inches.

The 2015 calendar year, January and February, snowfall total of 56.5 inches was 15.2 inches above normal, but was five inches less than last year. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, was 77.2 inches. This was 11.2 inches above normal and just 1.8 inches less than last winter. We haven’t recorded as much snow as Boston this winter, but we still have March and April to catch up. Boston will more than likely top 108 inches of snowfall to break their winter season record. For comparison, Norfolk’s average winter snowfall is 90.5 inches and our snowiest winter was in 1955-56 when we recorded a total of 177.4 inches.

Just three years ago in 2012 we recorded our second warmest and our third least snowy February. What a difference a few years makes.