An Abundance of Snowfall
By Russell Russ
February was a snowy month. After several years of rather soft winter weather in what is typically wintertime, it seemed as if this February was so much colder and so much more snowy than normal. In fact, it was rather normal temperature-wise, but there was more snowfall than average. Not record setting snowfall by any means, just more than average. Plus, with the more normal wintertime February temperatures, what snow we got, stayed on the ground for the entire month. It was a good old fashioned winter month. This made for happy people looking to ski, skate or go ice fishing and generally anyone else that enjoys snow and typical Norfolk winter weather.
The month’s low temperature of 4 degrees was observed on February 12. There were five days this month with single digit temperatures, but no days recording zero or below zero. The high temperature of 46 degrees was observed on February 24. There were no daily record high or low temperatures this month. The average monthly temperature was 22.8 degrees, just 0.6 degree above normal. It was the coldest February in Norfolk since 2015. February 2015’s average temperature of 10.9 degrees was Norfolk’s second coldest month of any month since 1932. The warmest February on record was in 2002 with 30.7 degrees. The coldest was in 1934 with 9.0 degrees, making that also the coldest month of any month as recorded at this weather station.
Total precipitation recorded for the month was 3.42 inches, just 0.21 inch below normal. A vast majority of February’s precipitation was in the form of snow, with a small portion coming as freezing rain. Obviously, the month’s cold temperatures played a role in this predominately frozen winter precipitation. The 2021 calendar year (January and February) total precipitation amount of 5.53 inches was 2.12 inches below normal. The record for most February total precipitation is 11.70 inches from 1981, the least amount is 0.60 inch from 1987.
February’s monthly snowfall total of 35.0 inches was 14.7 inches above normal. Snow on ground depth during the month ranged from 9 inches to 21 inches, with an average snow on ground of over 17 inches during the month. This month ranked as Norfolk’s eleventh snowiest February over the last 90 years. It was the snowiest February since 2014, then 2010 before that, then 1972 before that. Norfolk’s top seven snowiest February’s occurred between 1940 and 1972. The record for most snowfall in February is 52.4 inches from 1969, the least is 4.8 inches from 1998.
The 2021 calendar year snowfall total through February was 47.4 inches, 6.6 inches above normal. This is over 33 inches more snowfall than the same period last winter. The snowfall total for this winter season, October through February, was 71.5 inches, 6.1 inches above normal for this time period. This is over 31 inches more than last winter season for this time period. Hence, the happiness of the area’s snow loving crowd, from those that try to make a living from snow to those that just play in it.
March is often Norfolk’s transition month between winter and spring. March is a fickle weather month and can throw a wild mix of weather conditions at us. This March through mid-month was much colder than normal with minimal precipitation and minimal snow. It was certainly cold enough for snowfall, but the storms just did not form. The cold kept February’s snow on the ground in most places at least through mid-month. Many local maple syrup producers have reported that this season has been slow due to the cold temperatures. That may change as the forecast for the last quarter of March is for temperatures to increase. Precipitation is needed, so hopefully the warmer conditions also bring some beneficial early spring moisture.