Saturday, March 6, 2021

February 2021 Climate Report for Memphis, TN

February Climate Recap

February will definitely be one of the winter months that Memphis won't soon forget, as well as one for the record books. A long-duration extreme cold snap enveloped the entire central portion of the country as far south as the Mexican border for the middle third of the month, breaking records (and pipes and electric grids)! With an average temperature of 37 degrees, it was the tenth coldest February on record in Memphis, but also the second snowiest as 10" of snow and sleet fell between the 14th and 17th. And that followed about one-third of an inch of ice on the 11th. In sum, Memphis officially remained below freezing for nine consecutive days, tying the longest stretch below freezing on record. 

The month began a bit below normal as well, but many people will forget the way the month ended. Four days after climbing above freezing, it was nearly 70 degrees, and the maximum temperature for the month was 75degrees  on the last day of February. In addition, soaking rains and some thunderstorms (that occurred with a Tornado Watch in effect) brought 5" of rainfall in the last 3 days of the month, bleeding over into the early morning hours of March 1. Snowmelt and heavy rain meant saturated conditions heading into the first days of meteorological spring.

As for severe (non-winter) weather, storms on the evening of the 28th brought sub-severe hail and wind gusts measured to 67 mph with some wind damage, including a tree down on a house that resulted in one injury in Midtown Memphis. There was also some minor flooding in Tipton County that night. A Tornado Watch was in effect and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were issued, as well as a Tornado Warning for southern Marshall County. 

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Average temperature: 37.0 degrees (8.5 degrees below average) 
Average high temperature: 44.6 degrees (10.1 degrees below average) 
Average low temperature: 29.5 degrees (6.8 degrees below average) 
Warmest temperature: 75 degrees (28th) 
Coolest temperature: 1 degree (16th) 
Heating Degrees Days: 778 (230 above average)
Cooling Degree Days: 2 (0 below average) 
Records set or tied: The following temperature records were set or tied during the month:
  • Coldest high temperature: February 14 (19°)
  • Coldest low temperature: February 15 (9°)
  • Coldest high temperature: February 15 (15°)
  • Coldest low temperatures: February 16 (1°)
  • Tied coldest high temperature: February 16 (18°)
  • Coldest low temperature: February 20 (9°)
  • Tied for consecutive days with high temperatures at or below 32° (February 11-19)
Comments: 16 dates recorded low temperatures at or below freezing versus an average of 9.5. Nine (consecutive) days recorded high temperatures at or below freezing versus an average of 0.9. The average temperature for the month ended 10th coldest in the 147 year historical record.

Monthly total: 6.95" (2.56" above average) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 14 (4.8 days above average) 
Wettest 24-hour period: 2.26" (26th-27th) 
Snowfall: 10.0" (8.7" above average)
Records set or tiedTwo daily snow records were set this week: 4.0" (sleet and snow) on the 15th and 4.7" on the 17th.
Comments: Snow fell on six (consecutive) days during the month, including the two record above, as well as 1.3" on the 14th and trace amounts on the 13th, 16th, and 18th. This month ranks second snowiest on record behind 10.3" that fell in 1905. In addition to the snow, two days also recorded more than an inch of rain.

Peak wind: West-northwest/42 mph (25th) 
Average wind: 8.7 mph 
Average relative humidity: 67% 
Average sky cover: 67% 

 Click here for a daily statistical recap for Memphis International Airport.

Cirrus Weather Solutions /, Bartlett, TN

Average temperature: 36.4 degrees 
Average high temperature: 44.4 degrees 
Average low temperature: 28.2 degrees 
Warmest temperature: 75.6 degrees (28th) 
Coolest temperature: -0.3 degrees (16th) 
Comments: None 

Monthly total: 7.12" (automated rain gauge), 7.37"(manual CoCoRaHS rain gauge) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 13
Wettest date: 2.16" (28th) (via automated gauge) 
Snowfall: 8.6"

Peak wind: South/26 mph (21st)
Average relative humidity: 79% 
Average barometric pressure: 30.14in. Hg
Comments: None

Click here for a daily statistical recap for Bartlett, TN.

MWN Forecast Accuracy

MWN average temperature error: 3.31 degrees 
MWN forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 45% 
MWN average dewpoint error: 3.08 degrees 
MWN forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 48% 

MWN's forecasts extend out five periods (2.5 days, or roughly 60 hours). Historical accuracy statistics can be found here.

Climate Outlook - March 2021

The March climate outlook for the United States from the Climate Prediction Center is shown below. Above average temperatures are forecast for a large section of the United States with highest probabilities in the Great Lakes and Southern Plains to Gulf Coast. Below average temperatures are forecast for the west coast. Odds favor above average temperatures for Memphis (48%) versus only 19% chance of below average temperatures. The average temperature for March is 54.0 degrees.

Precipitation is expected to be above normal from the Great Lakes into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Below average precipitation is forecast for the southern Rockies into the Four Corners during March. For Memphis, odds favor above average rainfall (a 45% chance) versus only a 22% chance of below average rainfall. Precipitation historically averages 5.16 inches.

Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info! 
Complete MWN Forecast: on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app 
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Winter and snow in the rearview mirror, as spring rains arrive in the Mid-South

Many of us are suffering "weather whiplash" as spring seems to have arrived quickly once the snow melted! After setting multiple cold and snow records during a bitter spell in the middle of the month (average temperature of 19.8 degrees between February 11-19), much of Memphis saw the 70 degree mark on Tuesday and approached it again Wednesday. We've now entered a rainy stretch, as a frontal system wavers across the Mid-South from south to north and back south again this weekend. The wet period started with 2.20" of rain on Friday, with more to come. A Flood Watch is in effect for the metro on Sunday.


The front that will be the focus for the heaviest rainfall this weekend starts south of Memphis Saturday morning with low clouds and patchy light rain with temperatures in the low 50s locally. As the day goes on though, that front starts to lift north as a warm front this afternoon. This will bring higher rain chances, and perhaps a few thunderstorms, to the metro mainly between 3pm-8pm. 

The surface map for Saturday into Saturday night, with fronts valid at 6pm Sunday. (NWS/WPC)

The warm front also brings warming temperatures and a return to southerly wind tonight. Expect to see the mercury rise to the mid 60s by late afternoon and then stay there overnight with a breezy south  wind. Once the front-induced rain moves to our north this evening, only spotty rain showers are expected overnight, with the focus of heavy rain shifting to our north. After 2" in the past 24 hours, we could see up to another 1/2" of rain with the front later today.


The day dawns with very warm temperatures in the 60s, breezy south wind, and the warm front sitting well to our north. However, a cold front will make its approach during the day, overtaking the warm front and pushing through near sunset. Heavy rain focus in the morning will be to our north but a few showers are possible in the greater metro as temperatures make their way back to 70 degrees by lunchtime. 

The surface map for Sunday into Sunday night. The fronts are valid Sunday morning, with a cold front to our northwest poised to move through early Sunday evening. (NWS/WPC)

During the afternoon, scattered showers become more numerous with daytime heating and the front approaching. With plenty of moisture in the air, a warm and unstable airmass in place, and sufficient wind energy overhead, expect the front to slowly move in by late afternoon. It will bring plenty of rainfall to already-saturated ground, as well as thunderstorms. A few of these storms could be strong. Right now, that threat appears to be late afternoon to early evening and includes strong wind gusts and an isolated tornado. A Marginal Risk (level 1/5) for severe weather is in place for the entire area.

Rainfall totals from Sunday morning through Monday morning could exceed 2" in spots and most will likely get at least 1.5", bringing the total for the weekend to around 2", locally more, for many of us.

Total rainfall as predicted by the NWS Weather Prediction Center from 6am Saturday through 6am Monday. Many of us will be near or over 2" for the weekend.

Next week

Rainfall taper off Monday morning and anything we get Monday should be light. Some sunshine may peak out Monday afternoon  with temperatures closer to average - mid 40s in the morning and mid 50s in the afternoon.

Another system moves through the region on Tuesday afternoon. Models disagree on its impacts due to their party line hold on the strength of the system. We'll go with scattered showers mainly Tuesday afternoon for now with temperatures slightly cooler than Monday.

Model data concurs on a dry and mild Wednesday with highs in the upper 50s after a cool start. Then we get more disagreement heading into the end of the week on rain/no rain. We have low chances each day for now until we see some model agreement and since it's still nearly a week out. Highs will generally be in the 60+ range with lows in the 40s. The magic 8-ball says "signs point to" a drier stretch after this week for a while!

So now that winter appears to be behind us (with "round 3 of winter weather" nowhere in sight, despite claims from at least one weather hype-site on Facebook earlier this week), it's time to begin turning our attention to spring hazards, including flooding and severe thunderstorms, as the pattern warms with the arrival of March - and just in time for Severe Weather Awareness Week in Tennessee! Enjoy your weekend and keep the umbrella and your MWN app with radar and the MWN Forecast handy!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder