Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wrap-up: Yep, February Among Most Brutal Months On Record In the Northeast

A road in Eastport, Maine on February 16.
in the midst of what is probably the most
extreme winter month on record in
New England. Photo by Bill Trotter/
Bangor Daily News.  
To wrap up, an incredible month just ended in New England, as any reader of this blog probably knows all too well.

Still, I can't get over how extreme February, 2015 in terms of cold and snow.

I'll nominate Bangor, Maine, as the epicenter of what has been a winter month that's almost impossible to describe in words.

So let's go to the stats.

When a weather station breaks the record for its warmest or coldest month, it's almost always be not much more than one degree. It's rare to have more than, say, ten days in a month that are more than 10 degrees warmer or colder than average and maybe one or two with a departure of 20 degrees or more from normal.

Bangor absolutely obliterated records. The mean temperature in February in this Maine city was 6.1 degrees, or 14.7 degrees below normal. (It's very odd for a month to be half that number of degrees warmer or colder than normal.)

February, 2015 broke Bangor's record for coldest month by a 2.3 degrees. Absolutely amazing. Every day during February was colder than normal, and all but four days were at least 10 degrees on the cold side.

Usually, a record frigid month is also quite dry, as there's a lack of storminess and moisture in these cold Canadian air masses. Not so in Bangor, which had 42.4 inches of snow in February, another record. Together with storms in January, there was a total of 50 inches of snow on the ground in Bangor as the month ended.    
Traffic on Interstate 95 near Bangor, Maine stalls
amid car crashes and heavy snow last week.
Photo by Brian Feulner, Bangor Daily News.  

Yep, that's more than four feet of snow that will have to get eaten up by spring weather before things can green up in Maine.

March is not off to a good start in that department. The temperature this morning got down to 14 below in Bangor, breaking the old record low for the date of 11 below, set in 2001.

Another one to three inches of snow is forecast in Bangor later today and tonight.

The stats from Montpelier, Vermont are also remarkable.

Snowfall in February across Vermont was above normal, but unlike Maine, wasn't extreme. But the cold was.

In February in Montpelier, eight days were at least 20 degrees colder than normal, including five consecutie ones from February 14 to 17. No fewer than 20 days were 10 degrees or more chillier than normal, including a nine day consecutive stretch at mid-month.

In Montpelier, all days in February were colder than normal. Temperatures never went above freezing.

Boston is closing in on its snowiest season on record. Numerous cities across the Northeast clocked their coldest February on record, or at least got close to it. (For the record, the closest major weather station to my house, Burlington, Vermont, had its third coldest February on record, and 7th coldest month overall.)

March isn't exactly coming in on a spring-like note. Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings early Sunday morning stretched from Texas, through the mid-Mississippi Valley, throughout most of the Ohio Valley and along the East Coast from the Carolinas to central New England.

Which of course means that New England's winter nightmare is not over. All the heavy snow on roofs is still causing structural collapses in the eastern part of the region.

At least 150 roofs in Massachusetts have caved in under the weight of feet of snow. Just yesterday, a large section of roof collapsed at a hockey arena in Canton, Massachusetts as a youth hockey team practiced inside. Luckily, everyone got out without injury.

More roofs are sure to go as another round of snow and mixed precipitation arrives today to add to the misery. Yet another wave of snow, ice and rain is due in the region Tuesday and Wednesday, which is sure to cause more problems.

People in eastern New England and parts of the Maritime Provinces in Canada are also worried about what will happen when the weather finally breaks. All that snow has to go somewhere. If it melts too fast, or heavy rains hit, there could be some catastrophic flooding later this spring.

So let's hope the region finally gets some sunny, warm weather, but too warm yet. We need a nice, gradual thaw. We need perfect maple sugaring weather. You know, highs in the 40s to around 50, overnight lows a bit below freezing.

We can also hope for some relatively normal weather for the rest of the year. New England has already had more than a year's worth of extremes in two months. We need to catch our breaths.

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