February was freakishly warm Sydney Dollmeyer, seated left, and Emily Daly, right, enjoy lunch in the sun along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, on the warmest February day ever recorded in Boston. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes/AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
February was freakishly warm
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A freakishly balmy February broke more than 11,700 local daily records for warmth in the United States. But it didn't quite beat 1954 for the warmest February on record, climate scientists said.
 
The average temperature last month was 41.2 degrees. That was 7.3 degrees warmer than normal but three-tenths a degree behind the record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.
 
It was unseasonably toasty for most of the country east of the Rockies. But a cool Pacific Northwest kept the national record from falling, said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch.
 
Chicago had no snow. Oklahoma hit 99 degrees. Texas and Louisiana had their hottest February. NOAA said local weather stations broke or tied warm temperature records 11,743 times but set cold records only 418 times.
 
An international science team's computer analysis of causes of extreme weather calculated that man-made global warming tripled the likelihood for the nation's unusually warm February. The mostly private team of researchers is called World Weather Attribution. The team uses accepted scientific techniques to figure if climate change plays a role in extreme events. These are based on computer simulations of real world conditions and those without heat-trapping gases.
 
"I don't recall ever seeing a February like this," said Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi. He was part of the quick attribution study that was not peer reviewed. "We expect this to happen with more and more frequency over time."
 
Several outside scientists praised the quick study. One was Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor David Titley. He was on a National Academy of Sciences panel that certified the accuracy of climate change attribution science.
 
"This is the new climate normal that we all need to come to grips with," Titley said. "And it's stunning how quickly our climate has changed."
 
Natural random weather variations and climate change combined to make it a weird February, meteorologists said.
 
Overall, NOAA said it was the sixth warmest U.S. winter on record. It was about 3.7 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.
 
"You definitely do feel that this is going to be something that you get to enjoy now and you pay for after the fact," said Vecchi, who was biking in short-sleeves in New Jersey last month.
 
Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado said he worries that the lack of deep Arctic cold plunges in February. It means the Gulf of Mexico never cooled down. And when severe weather season in the spring starts, the moisture coming north from warmer Gulf waters will goose outbreaks and increase the probability of nasty spring storms and tornadoes. Massachusetts already had an unprecedented February tornado.
 
A March frost could kill early blooming trees and flowers. And the lack of a proper winter could lead to more mosquitoes and ticks this year, Vecchi said.
 
"What is lurking behind the corner while we're outside throwing a Frisbee might be looking to make our lives less pleasant," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What problems can we expect from this warm February?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (29)
  • ljohn-dav
    3/16/2017 - 07:24 p.m.

    In response to "February was freakishly warm," I agree that that it was warm this February. One reason I agree is that The average temperature last month was 41.2 degrees. That was 7.3 degrees warmer than normal. Another reason is that an science team's analysis of causes of extreme weather calculated that man-made global warming tripled the likelihood for the nation's unusually warm February. A third reason natural random weather variations and climate change combined to make it a weird February, meteorologists said. Even though some of us didn't like the warm February, I think
    it was great that we could enjoy the sun and be outside for some days.

  • temmy-dav
    3/16/2017 - 08:38 p.m.

    In response to this article, I agree that this weather "pattern" will cause great problems. One reason I agree is that all of the plants and animals will be thrown off balance from this "pattern". Another reason is that the insects will be in great quantity from not having a really winter . A third reason this "pattern" of weather might throw off the other seasons. Even though I think this there is a chance of having a "late winter" you could say.

  • sanna-dav
    3/16/2017 - 08:54 p.m.

    This article is about how Feburary was warmer this yaer than in past years. 41.2 was the average temperature last month, 7.3 degrees warmer than normal. East of the rockies was very warm , but the pacific northwest was colder. There was no snow in Colorado and Oklahoma hit 99 degrees. "I don't recall ever seeing a February like this," said Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi. He was part of the quick attribution study that was not peer reviewed. "We expect this to happen with more and more frequency over time."

  • mariannm-ver
    3/17/2017 - 09:23 a.m.

    11,700 records were broken in the U.S alone. Global warming can affect our lives in some of the worst ways possible. The warm air can help create more drastic severe weather. The unusual winter can increase the population of mosquitoes.

  • noahg-smi1
    3/17/2017 - 11:32 a.m.

    Well were already dealing with a cold March,I think one problem having a warm winter is seasons. Winter will be like spring,spring will be like winter,summer will be like fall,and fall will be like summer. The seasons seems to flip-flop their temperature. What do u think?

  • ashtonw-ver
    3/17/2017 - 12:04 p.m.

    NOAA said local weather stations broke or tied warm temperature records 11,743 times but set cold records only 418 times but why does it not happen in the summer when it gets cold. And March cane with snow it probley kill lots of trees and flowers.

  • zaidav-ver
    3/17/2017 - 12:10 p.m.

    More mosquitoes and ticks ahhh a really hate bugs and they say that by the Gulf of Mexico if the gulf doesn't cool down they might have nasty spring storms and tornadoes. I like the nice weather but then hate bugs so I really like spring and autumn because there on the middle warm and cold.

  • dahianad-ver
    3/17/2017 - 12:11 p.m.

    There's many problem that we can expect from this warm February. The biggest problem that there is with this is Global warming. Global warming is getting worse over time and this is a huge sign of it. With the warm February and now a little colder March, there is a higher possibility of worse storms and tornadoes all over areas in higher risks of that. The summer is going to probably be even hotter and plenty more bugs and diseases will spread around. The sicknesses have been going up too because of the sudden change of weather through the weeks.

  • ldawson-dav
    3/20/2017 - 03:37 p.m.

    In response to "February was freakishly warm," I agree that it was really warm last month in February. One reason I agree is that we were all wearing short sleeves and shorts. Another reason is that my birthday is February 18th and it is always cold. But this year on my birthday I was hot. It felt like it was spring time outside. My friends came over for my birthday and we had nerfgun wars outside and played until 10pm at night. It says in the article that we might have to get used to not really feeling cold in the winter time. A third reason it feels so warm in February now is because of global warming.
    What we put out into the environment is going to make it warm and soon we may not really ever feel cold. Even though it is cold today, in March, I think
    that each year it is going to get warmer and warmer in the winter time. That is ok for now but one day it might make all the plants that we need not grow the right way or not grow at all.

  • claires-sto
    3/21/2017 - 02:53 p.m.

    There will be more bugs this summer and possibly bad colder weather in march to make up for the warm Feburary

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