February 2019 weather: Close to par
February 2019 was only unusual from the standpoint that temperatures, precipitation and snowfall all were quite close to normal. Rarely do we see all three parameters average close to long-term averages.
Arctic air was in control as February began, accounting for the coldest reading of the month on the second and third at -3. Rapid moderation would bring the warmest reading of the month, just three days later, at 61. The high of 61 degrees on the Feb. 6 would establish a new daily record, bettering the reading of 57 degrees from 2005.
Daily average temperatures were as cold as 17 degrees below normal on Feb. 1, but warmed to 21 degrees above normal by Feb. 6. Another fairly common theme to weather is to see one extreme follow the other. Change is normal with weather just as its is with climate change.
Temperatures for the remainder of February continued the changeable pattern we normally see during winter but with less magnitude. Another spell of cold finished out the month.
The average temperature for February as recorded at the Pennichuck Water Works was 27.0 degrees, only 0.5 degrees above normal. February tied as the 36th warmest out of 126 years with temperature records since 1885.
Just to jog your memory, Nashua saw its fourth warmest February on record last year, including a new monthly high reading of 76 degrees on Feb. 22.
After a dry first week, the weather pattern became more active, bringing the Gate City a variety of wet and wintry weather for the remainder of the month every few days. Rain would accompany the first storm from Feb. 7 into Feb. 8, but a more complex storm would bring snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain from the Feb. 12 into Feb. 13.
This second storm would bring Nashua its largest precipitation event of the month, with 1.40 inches. Four more weather systems would bring snow and rain to central New England for the remainder of the month.
A storm system brought about a half an inch of rain on Feb. 24, but the story with this storm would be the wind that followed. Strong wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph around southern New Hampshire brought down tree limbs and even a few trees, producing power outages and damage for some.
Of note would be a record wind gust for the month of February recorded atop Mt. Washington at 171 mph on the evening of Feb. 25. This was the eighth-highest gust ever recorded on the summit. Still more impressive was the sustained wind speed of 145 mph during the 7 p.m. hour of the peak gust.
Sunshine data recorded at Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts, showed 53 percent of the possible sun for February, three percent above normal. The winter was the sunniest since 2012, with 55 percent of the possible sun, five percent above normal.
Snowfall got off to a fast pace during November with above normal totals, then we saw snowfall stub its toe during December and January. During February, the snow machine began to get started again with Nashua seeing 11.2 inches, 2.0 inches below normal. February ranked in 45th place out of 110 years with snow data from least snowy to snowiest.
For the season, Nashua’s total of 29.5 inches is 13.9 inches below normal. While this has been a slow winter for snow, locally it should be noted that many other areas of the Northeast and northern New England have had a snowier-than-normal winter.
As close by as our state’s capital, snow totals are near normal for the season, and when one wanders to northern New Hampshire, totals are well above normal for the season. Caribou, Maine, is at nearly a record pace for snow this year, 147 inches through the end of February. Buildings are being buried by snow drifts through parts of northern Maine.
Much of the Northeast is again having a snowier-than-normal winter. Just a small portion of southern New England, including southern New Hampshire, is seeing amounts less than average. There is still time to catch up. Last year, 40 inches of snow fell during March.
Official winter came to a close with the final day of February. The winter of 2018-19 was milder than normal, less snowy than normal, but with almost exactly normal precipitation.
Meteorological winter is defined as the months of December, January and February. It should be noted that winter weather can, and usually does, occur outside of meteorological winter, as can spring and fall weather outside of meteorological spring and fall.
The average winter temperature of 27.6 degrees was 1.4 degrees above normal and ranked in a tie as the 27th-warmest winter out of 125 years of temperature record.
December brought nearly no snow, milder than normal temperatures and less than normal precipitation. January was mild and wet with below normal snowfall. February brought nearly normal amounts of rain, snow and seasonable temperatures.
Melted precipitation for winter totaled 10.62 inches, just 0.01 inches below normal, making the winter of 2018-19 the 79th driest winter out of the past 135 years.
Winter snowfall totaled 21.6 inches, a deficit of 19.7 inches. This winter ranked as the 11th least snowy out of 110 years of record.
Astronomical spring or vernal equinox, which begins March 20 this year, has absolutely nothing to do with weather, but rather with the sun making its journey north of the equator for the next six months. Temperatures began their upward swing in late January and already have recovered to mid-November levels by March 20.
The coldest three months by average temperature align much more closely to the calendar months of December, January and February than they do to the astronomical season. Meteorological winter is defined using average temperatures, not the solar calendar.
March can be home to some of the most fickle and extreme weather of the year. Being abnormal is normal during March. No other month brings more potential extremes. Nashua has seen March temperatures soar to near 90 and plummet to nearly -20.
Mid-winter type blizzards, summer heat, strong winds, bitter cold, spring temperatures, flooding, ice storms, rain storms and, of course, mud season are all possibilities during March. While meteorological winter may be over, the snow season is not and can extend into April and in rare cases into May.
Doug Webster, of Hudson, is a senior meteorologist at Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua.
DATING BACK TO 1884
February 2019 Average Temperature
27.0 degrees, 0.5 degrees above normal
2015, 12.4 (Coldest month all-time)
All-time February High
76, Feb. 22, 2018
February 2019 High
61, Feb. 5, 6
All-time February Low
35 below (all-time low for Nashua), Feb. 16, 1943
February 2019 Low
3 below, Feb. 2, 3
February 2019 Precipitation
3.24 inches, 0.12 inches below normal
2019 Annual Precipitation to date
8.02 inches, 1.24 inches above normal
2008, 10.27 inches
1987, 0.07 inches
February 2019 Snowfall
11.2 inches, 2.0 inches below normal
1969, 55.2 inches
2018-19 Season Snowfall
29.5 inches, 13.9 inches below normal