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.

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