The West Coast and Northern Rockies were drier than average. California had its fifth driest February on record, with a precipitation total of 0.57 inch, 3.05 inches below average. Oregon's precipitation total of 1.20 inches was 2.00 inches below average and marked the seventh driest February for the state.
Georgia had its wettest February on record with 9.92 inches of precipitation, 5.42 inches above average. The above-average precipitation drastically improved drought conditions which have been present since the summer of 2010. Neighboring Alabama had its fourth wettest February and South Carolina its seventh wettest.
Three major winter storms impacted the nation during February, contributing to an above-average monthly snow cover extent, according to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. A Nor'easter hit the East Coast on February 7th-10th, dropping over 30 inches of snow in parts of New England. The storm was rated a Category 3 on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS), which takes into account snowfall accumulation in the densely populated areas of the northeastern United States. Back-to-back winter storms hit the central U.S. on February 20th-23rd and 25th-28th, bringing heavy snowfall totals and near blizzard conditions from New Mexico to Michigan.
According to the February 26 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 54.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, smaller than the 57.7 percent at the end of January. Drought conditions continued to plague much of the Great Plains and West.
Climate Highlights — winter season (December 2012 — February 2013)
The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the winter season was 34.3°F, 1.9°F above the 20thcentury average, marking the 20th warmest winter on record.
According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the winter average snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was 1.3 million square miles, which was 127,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average. This marked the 15th largest seasonal snow cover extent in the 1966-present period of record.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was slightly below average during the December-February, period. However, the component that examines the spatial extent of drought was more than three times the normal value for the 3-month period.