February 2007 Climate Summary and Winter 2006/2007 Wrap Up

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, Cook College/NJAES, Rutgers University

March 1, 2007
Updated: March 22

Our record warm early winter was all but forgotten this past frigid February. Statewide, the preliminary average temperature of 27.0° was 5.9° below the 1971-2000 normal of 32.9°. This makes February 2007 the 16th coldest since 1895, and the coldest second month of the year since 1979. You have to go back to December 2000 to find the last time a month had a greater negative departure. Not that the cold came anywhere close to that experienced in 1934, when February averaged 17.9°.

What made the cold all the more impressive was that it was accompanied by limited snow cover to refrigerate the overlying atmosphere. Ironically, the above average winds of February 2007, while adding to the discomfort, prevented frequent temperature inversions. These conditions occur under calm, clear skies when cold air sinks to lower elevations, while hill tops are warmer. Given that most of the observing stations in the state sit in valleys, inversions lower night time minimum temperatures, thus monthly averages. In other words, it had to “work harder” to be cold this month, with the winds having to continually import cold air from the Arctic.

The below average snowfall in February was due more to an absence of moisture than to an absence of cold. Rain and melted snow and sleet averaged 2.05”, which is 0.91” below the 1971-2000 average. With some stations yet to report, it appears that February 2007 was the 15th to 20th driest since 1895. The major event of the month was the snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain event on the 13th and 14th. On the morning of the 14th you awoke to a driving rain storm with temperatures in the low 40s in the southeast, a power-disruptive freezing rain event just below the freezing mark a few miles inland from the coast in Monmouth and Ocean counties, and heavy sleet falling elsewhere with temperatures ranging from the upper 20s in the southwest to the single digits in the northwest hills! On three other occasions, two or more inches (but rarely much more) of snow fell at some locations in the state.

Despite February's cold, the warmth of January and especially the record warm December resulted in a winter (Dec-Feb) that averaged 35.4°, or 2.3° above the long-term average. This made the 2006/2007 winter the 14th warmest of the past 112 years. Following a record wet fall (Sep-Nov), this past winter was on the dry side. The statewide average total of rain and melted snow was 7.94", or 2.66" below normal and ranking 22nd driest.

Past Climate Summaries