COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missourians who dressed in layers, wool hats and warm mittens will not be surprised to learn that February set low-temperature records.
“Preliminary data indicates that February was about 8 to 9 degrees below normal,” said Pat Guinan, climatologist for University of Missouri Extension’s Commercial Agriculture Program.
It will depend on the final numbers, but last month could rank as Missouri’s 11th-coldest February on record, and we have records in Missouri that go back 120 years, Guinan said.
“It looked like it was going to be a warmer than normal winter, but that went out the window when Arctic air dipped down into the central U.S.,” Guinan said.
December was fairly mild and January was slightly above normal, but when you get a month like February, which was 8 degrees below normal, that’s a game changer, he said.
It was bitterly cold in parts of Missouri that are usually spared severe low temperatures.
“When you see subzero temperatures in southeastern parts, especially around the Bootheel, that’s unusual, and that happened in February and early March,” Guinan said.
Cape Girardeau dropped double digits below zero with minus 11, minus 7 and minus 14 degrees on Feb. 17, 18 and 19, respectively, Guinan said. Cape Girardeau also established an all-time record low for the month of March when the mercury dipped to minus 8 degrees the morning of March 6.
“That’s nothing short of amazing,” Guinan said.
On the precipitation side, snow fell in places that usually don’t get snow.
“There are some locations across southeast Missouri that picked up nearly 2 feet of snow this winter, and that’s a lot of snow for that part of the state,” Guinan said.
The state as a whole saw quite a bit of snow, he said. Most locations picked up at least 6 inches in February. Parts of northern and southeastern Missouri saw 15-20 inches of snow.
Moving ahead to spring, the outlook is a coin toss. Guinan says the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center indicates equal chances of above-, below- or near-normal temperature and precipitation.
There’s a reason that Missouri has the adage, “Don’t like the weather? Wait a few minutes and it will change.”
“You can get these weather patterns that can go from one extreme to another, be it precipitation or be it temperature, and it can happen very abruptly and very quickly,” Guinan said.
For more information, visit the Missouri Climate Center website at http://climate.missouri.edu.