Was February Really Unusually Warm?
Almost this entire month I've been thinking, "Wow, it seems really warm for February." But just how warm was it? Let's crunch the numbers from Pasco and see what we get.
If you're only here for the short answer, it's a yes. It was warmer than one might expect for the Tri-Cities in February. It was also drier. So if that's all you want, you can now go back to your relentless Facebook scrolling. But! If you want to know why, keep reading.
In an El Niño year, the Pacific Northwest typically records warmer than usual temperatures, but that is definitely not universal for every El Niño.
Now, before I get into averages and such, it's important to note that not one single year do we ever have average temperatures. They are used as a reference, not an absolute "this is what it should be."
High Temperatures: The warmest it got last month was 65 (on the 27th), with three other days above 60. This actually broke a record for that day, but that's the only record high that we broke. The highest temperature ever recorded in February is 74 (set in 1995).
What I find more interesting than the one record high is the fact that we were consistently above average. This is where it gets confusing, so follow along close here. The "average average" high for February is 49.2. This is the number we get if we take every high temperature ever recorded in February since records began. This year's average (the average of the high temperatures in February 2016) was 54.6, which is 5.4 above the "average average."
The lowest high was 42 (on the 3rd). We only had three days below average, which leaves us with 26 above average.
Low Temperatures: The coldest it got last month was 21 (on the 23rd), with 13 other days below 30. We didn't set any record lows, though. The lowest it's ever gotten in February was -17, set in 1996.
I want to compare averages again, though. The "average average" low for February is 28.8, and this year it was 32.4, which is 3.6 above. So, if half of the days were below average on a daily basis, how were we so far above when put together? The answer is that the days above were farther from their respective averages than the days below.
The lowest we got below the average was an 8-degree difference, while the warmest we got above the average was a 23-degree difference.
The warmest low temperature was 52 (on the 15th). Previous to that, the last time we had a low that warm was Halloween. While not uncommon during the Spring and Fall, the only months with average lows in the 50s are in the Summer.
So, while we didn't have any extreme temperatures for this time of year, we were warmer than one might expect for February.
Rain: The most rain we got in one day was 0.08" (on the 12th). There were eight days with measurable precipitation and three days where all we had marked down was "Trace", which put together brought us to a monthly total of 0.38". Our average is 0.89". We had just short of half of the amount of precipitation we usually expect for February.
If you made it all the way down here, you're a champion, and champions get their weather reports from my Facebook page - Tri-Cities Weather. Go like it and join over 900 other champions from around the Mid-Columbia. Also, since I couldn't figure out how to put the link in the photo caption, here's the Facebook page for Infinite Series Photography, who were very kind to let me use their picture taken last month.