The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama

Volume 8, Number 11, February 2018

What might be the warmest February in Alabama's climate record has been followed by several days of lows in the 30s, strong winds, and a chance of both frost (at least in Alabama's northern tier of counties) and a snowflake or two.

Ah, spring.

Of course, we have had a few March snow storms in the past. That includes the March 13, 1993, "Storm of the Century."

But February 2018 won't go into the books because of snow. Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville and Muscle Shoals all recorded their warmest February on record. Our sample of 25 stations saw mean temps for the month that were more than ten degrees warmer than normal. The "official" statewide record average for February (57.7° in February 1927) isn't quite ten degrees warmer than the official average, so that record might fall when all the tallying is done.

Six stations — Dothan, Mobile's Downtown Airport, Jackson, Enterprise, the Eufaula Wildlife Refuge and Fort Benning's Lawson Field weather station — all reported their highest "ever" February temperatures. Except for Dothan, where the climate record goes back to 1902, those climate records are relatively brief, so highest "ever" might not mean as much in those places as in some others. Dothan saw a high of 85° on Feb. 21, which broke a record of 84° set on Feb. 25, 1944.

This was all probably more noticeable than normal because January was somewhat cooler than normal, so the sudden shift to warm temperatures would be easier to feel.

The weather pattern that sent us daily temperatures that at times were more than 20 degrees warmer than normal sent icy cold temps to the northwest. That included a February average that was 9.5° colder than normal in Bismarck, N.D., 13.5° colder in Williston, N.D., and a brisk 15.7° colder than normal in Hettinger, N.D. And these guys are already in an ice box in February.

Some folks in Alabama might also have noted that February was a bit ... damp, which is somewhat unusual for a month that is warmer than normal. Muscle Shoals, Russellville and Scottsboro all reported their wettest February on record. Muscle Shoals and Russellville both got more than 12 inches of rain for the month. Courtland got more than 11", while Scottsboro and Tuscaloosa both got more than 10" of rain for the month.

And it's a short month.

While most stations seem to have gotten above average rainfall for the month, a handful got less than they would normally see in February. Auburn, Brewton, Highland Home, Montgomery, Thomasville and Troy were among the stations that saw less rain than their February norms.

- John Christy
The Alabama State Climatologist