February by the numbers
With the arrival of March and the discussion about whether we are in meteorological spring or astronomical spring as a diversion we take a peek at how the month of February was recorded. Most of us would agree that it seemed like a repeat of January with nothing but snow and cold. Certainly, the utility bills that we are seeing will confirm that lots of energy was used to keep us warm. But how cold was it really?
The averages recorded at Albany, which is the closest National Weather Service site, tell the tale – and of course there are lots of different ways to view statistics. The simplest method is to use averages – the sum of the maximum daily high or low divided by 28 which is the number of days in the month. The average low temperature for the month was 13.3 degrees, which is certainly colder than the previous two winters but actually matched the February of 2011. On the other hand, the average maximum was only 30.4 degrees which is the coolest we have seen since 2007. Anybody remember that year? Probably not, because the intervening years have had average temperatures which were 5 to 10 degrees warmer. The data recorded by our weather station at the Gazette matched those in Albany within a few tenths of a degree.
How does this compare to the past Februaries? According to the National Weather Service (NWS) database for the past 30 years, this February was a bit on the cool side by about two degrees. Another way to describe what we were feeling was the duration of successive cold days. The official designation of a “deep freeze” is ten or more consecutive days when no thaw occurred. We went into the deep freeze this month from Feb. 4 through 13, which matched our January period of deep freeze.
The snowfall total of 28 inches for February is another indication of our winter – we’ve not seen that amount since 1993, and it was double the average February snowfall since 1939.
Statistics can sometimes mask real life, and an example of that is the days when we experienced rather warm temperatures. Remember when it was 51 degrees on Feb. 22? Probably not much consolation, but it did happen and it provides some hope that our growing season will in fact come to pass. In the meantime, layered clothing is the key.
We need to remember that these are weather statistics – the short term fluctuations which make weather watching an interesting hobby.