February 2021 and DEC/JAN/FEB 2020-21 Climate Rankings

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Despite the cold ending to meteorological winter the overall U.S. temperature rank for the just-ended winter season was 29th warmest of 127 years which is in the top 25% warmest. The Central and southeast U.S. were temperate except for chilly Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas plus warmer-than-normal Florida. California and Maine were very warm while the remainder of the northern tier states were warmer than normal.

Fig. 1: Statewide temperature rankings for February 2021.

February discussion: The U.S. ranked 19th coldest given the 127-year climatology in February 2021 (Fig. 1). The arctic outbreak during the middle third of the month forced the cold national ranking. Each state in the central and southern Great Plains to Missouri/Arkansas ranked in the top 10 coldest of all-time. Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma were each 6th coldest on record. California/Arizona, Maine and Florida were each quite mild this winter season. February 2021 produced precipitation extremes. Kansas, North Dakota and Minnesota were each in the top 12 all-time driest months for late winter while the Carolinas were in the top 10 wettest (Fig. 2). The wet pattern in the Carolinas was unusual for a La Nina winter. Overall, February ranked 50 of 127 years where 1 is driest and 127 is wettest.

Fig. 2: Statewide precipitation rankings for February 2021.

DEC/JAN/FEB 2020-21 discussion: Despite the cold ending to meteorological winter the overall U.S. temperature rank for the just-ended winter season was 29th warmest of 127 years (Fig. 3) which is in the top 25% warmest. The Central and southeast U.S. were temperate except for chilly Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas plus warmer-than-normal Florida. California and Maine were very warm while the remainder of the northern tier states were warmer than normal.

The U.S. precipitation pattern for meteorological winter 2020-21 was quite dry ranking 26th driest of 127 years also in the top 25% driest on record (Fig. 4). Twenty of the lower 48 contiguous states were drier than normal lead by North Dakota where the 3rd driest winter on record occurred. California was very dry ranking 19th driest all-time.

Meanwhile the Mid-Atlantic States were very wet. Virginia was in the top 10 wettest all-time followed closely behind by North Carolina ranking 14th wettest of 127 years. South Carolina and the coastal northern Mid-Atlantic also ranked somewhat wetter than normal.

Fig. 3: Statewide temperature rankings for DEC/JAN/FEB 2020-21.

Fig. 4: Statewide precipitation rankings for DEC/JAN/FEB 2020-21.