Month-long heat in February set native temperature information, however the climate cooperated for an evening of out of doors hockey. In the meantime, early-month rains washed away drought in North Carolina. We additionally preview winter’s potential return in March.
A Spring Sensation
Persistent and unprecedented heat prior to now month made it one in every of our warmest Februarys ever. In response to the Nationwide Facilities for Environmental Info (NCEI), the preliminary statewide common temperature was 50.5°F. It was our Third-warmest February on file since 1895, behind solely 2018 and 2017 within the rankings.
To place it one other approach, that temperature was barely above even the month-to-month common for March (50.3°F). And on our warmest days when the mercury climbed into the 80s, these temperatures had been extra typical of late Might than late February.
Our first style of the unseasonable heat got here on February 8-10 as an upper-level ridge over the Southeast US and offshore excessive stress elevated our temperatures into the 70s.
One other spherical of heat climate arrived the next week forward of a chilly entrance, with highs reaching 70°F even in westerly Asheville and Murphy.
The warmest climate arrived through the ultimate week of the month, as one other subtropical ridging sample and a heat entrance surging in from the south left us with Florida-like temperatures in February. On February 23, websites throughout the state hit the 80s, breaking all-time file highs for the month in Fayetteville (85°F), Raleigh (85°F), and Wilmington (86°F).
That file excessive temperature in Raleigh was 27.4 levels above regular, which was the second-greatest day by day anomaly there since 2011, trailing solely February 12, 2017, when our excessive of 83°F was 28.5 levels above the traditional of 54.5°F. Raleigh twice topped 80°F final month and completed with its warmest February on file relationship again to 1887.
Different long-term websites measuring their warmest Februarys included Hickory (warmest in 75 years) and Lincolnton (warmest in 66 years). Amongst our ECONet, it was the warmest February in Reidsville out of the previous 19 years, and the warmest in Burnsville since 2009, which additionally set a month-to-month file excessive of 78.8°F on February 22.
Spotlight-Worthy Hockey Climate
With that unbelievable heat final month, discovering a window for an out of doors hockey recreation was like sneaking a slapshot over the shoulder of a hulking goaltender. However for the NHL Stadium Collection recreation at Carter-Finley Stadium on February 18, the climate cooperated and supplied a touch of winter amid an in any other case spring-like month.
Excessive temperatures had been within the 70s through the week main as much as the sport, and a chilly entrance the day earlier than introduced a gentle rain that almost put a damper on the fan fest in downtown Raleigh. However that entrance additionally ushered in a decidedly extra seasonable air mass, with a excessive temperature of simply 54°F on Saturday afternoon as tailgaters assembled on the stadium.
By puck drop at 8 pm, the temperature was right down to a cold 40 levels underneath clear skies, which meant sweatshirts and toboggans — reasonably than the brief sleeves donned earlier within the week — had been the best apparel for the 56,961 followers in attendance.
Though our recreation preview famous how temperatures at that time in February are usually something however common — current years have trended hotter, together with a excessive of 71°F on February 18 final yr — this yr was luckily spot on with our typical mid-February temperatures.
The climate was actually one of many stars of the present, however the Hurricanes did their half as properly, incomes a 4-1 victory to comb the season collection towards their division-rival Washington Capitals.
Drought Fades, However Dryness Stays
Final month began with a few soaking rain occasions however completed on a drier word throughout a lot of the state. NCEI experiences a preliminary statewide common precipitation of two.96 inches, which ranks because the Thirty ninth-driest February prior to now 129 years.
The month started with a number of wet days due to a stalled entrance off our coast. Most areas noticed half an inch to an inch of rain, with increased quantities within the central Coastal Plain.
The next week, a coastal low stress system introduced totals of greater than 2 inches, primarily within the south and east. Capping off a moist month in japanese North Carolina, that occasion on February 11-12 erased the ultimate bits of Reasonable Drought (D1) that first emerged final fall.
However after that soaking, the climate turned drier as excessive stress took over. Based mostly on the place the early-month rain fell, there was a combination of barely moist, near-normal, and barely dry areas throughout the state.
Within the path of these offshore climate techniques, Hatteras was 0.57 inches above regular with its Thirty sixth-wettest February since 1893. Charlotte completed the month with 3.13 inches – spot on its 30-year regular. And on the drier facet, Asheville was 0.68 inches beneath regular with its 59th-driest February prior to now 134 years.
Regardless of the drier finish to the month, drought didn’t re-emerge, however a couple of Abnormally Dry (D0) areas stay, primarily alongside the southern shoreline. For the yr to this point, Wilmington is 1.7 inches beneath its regular precipitation, and a few streamflows alongside the Cape Worry, New, and Trent rivers have fallen beneath regular in current weeks.
The current heat climate, together with these drier days, has additionally begun to deplete soil moisture ranges throughout japanese North Carolina. Whereas it’s not a trigger for alarm simply but — and lots of farmers will be capable to benefit from the drier circumstances to organize their fields — we’ll need to see some rain in March to verify the soil isn’t too dry for planting as soon as the rising season begins in earnest.
One thing Wintry This Means Comes?
Final month, we assessed the snow-free winter throughout the Piedmont and Coastal Plain and supplied a little bit of hope, at the least primarily based on historical past, that February may deliver some measurable accumulations.
In fact, our heat climate made the snow keep away for one more month, which leaves March as our ultimate sensible alternative for snow this season.
For sure, the possibilities of a snowless winter ending in March are slim. In Charlotte, simply 2 out of 10 years with no snow by way of the top of February have seen accumulations in March. In Raleigh, that conversion fee is simply 2 for 11, whereas Greensboro has managed a season-saving March snow solely 3 out of 17 occasions traditionally.
The chances are decrease for the coast. Greenville has been snowless after February 25 occasions, and solely 4 of these years noticed snow in March. In Wilmington, through the 47 snowless winters after February, they’ve seen March snowfall simply 5 occasions – or about 11% of the time.
Our most up-to-date March snowfall got here in 2018, on the heels of our warmest February on file. And whereas snow is not any assure this month, the general climate sample might be a case of historical past repeating itself.
In the mean time, a sudden stratospheric warming occasion is going on excessive up within the ambiance over the North Pole. Over the following few weeks, that’s anticipated to weaken the polar vortex, which regularly unlocks the gates to chilly air to our north.
Positive sufficient, present outlooks present a southward-diving jet stream and cooler-than-normal temperatures throughout a lot of the USA by mid-March.
Whereas wintry climate might be attainable, the probably impression of that sample change can be a shock to the system for vegetation that has already budded or blossomed. Uncovered flowers, fruits, and different delicate tissues on these vegetation might be simply broken throughout a chilly snap, and with a mean final spring freeze date in late March or early April throughout many of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, we’re actually not out of the climatological woods for such cool nights simply but.
In case your backyard is already in bloom when that cooler climate arrives, try the following pointers from NC State Extension on the best way to shield towards frost and freeze harm, akin to watering vegetation since moist soils retain extra warmth, protecting vegetation with material or paper cups to entice warmth, and bringing delicate vegetation indoors on these coldest nights.
After a February that felt extra like March, we may have some March nights that really feel extra like January as our topsy-turvy begin to 2023 continues.
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