Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Frigid February ranks among Iowa’s top 10 coldest-ever Februarys

The state’s weather watchers are now releasing the data for the just-ended month and they’re confirming something we already know too well — February was brutally cold. State climatologist Justin Glisan says many Iowa communities set new record lows.

“Looking across the state, average temperatures for the month were anywhere from ten to 15 degrees below normal,” Glisan says. “In fact, the first half of February was the coldest start to a February since 1936 and then closely followed by 1899.”

While many Iowans saw low temps in the 20s-below zero, Mapleton in Monona County hit 35-below on February 16th, a record. Overall, it was a bone-chilling month.

“If we look at the statewide average temperature, we were right about 12-degrees Fahrenheit, which is 12-degrees below average,” Glisan says. “This will be a top 10 coldest Februarys on record.”

Snowfall for the month was about 10-inches on average statewide, which is three inches above normal, though some communities in west-central Iowa had 10-to-14 inches more snow than average. Still, he says, the unforgiving cold was the real story.

“We expect cold snaps during February, and January for that matter, but not the longevity in which these cold temperatures persisted across the state,” Glisan says. “We had negative signs in front of both the daytime highs and overnight lows anywhere from nine to 14 days. That’s a really substantial chunk of time to be that cold.”

In a welcome about-face, we’re now seeing temperatures above normal for March. Glisan says it appears we’ll rebound from the exceptionally cold February into a March that promises to bring warmer and wetter-than-usual weather.

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