Weathercatch: February fools region with weather in reverse

By Nic Loyd, WSU meteorologist, and Linda Weiford, WSU News

Weathercatch Photo LogoFebruary is a transitionary month — a bridge from winter to early spring that typically starts out cold and ends with milder temperatures.

This year, however, Mother Nature turned the bridge around, going from spring-like conditions to hardcore winter.

February’s first half gave us temperatures mild enough to prod green daffodil blades from the ground and to hint that cherry blossoms might not be far off.

This intermittent taste-of-spring weather brought a mix of sun, clouds, rain and temperatures reaching as high as 58 degrees in Spokane and 54 in Pullman on Feb. 8. Overall, the Inland Northwest saw above average temperatures and very little snowfall for almost two weeks.

Mild weather conditions led many people to think winter was over. That is, until Valentine’s Day.

Heavy snow falls on a very large moose in the author’s backyard last Saturday morning in Moscow. Photo by Linda Weiford.
Heavy snow falls on a very large moose in the author’s backyard last Saturday morning in Moscow. Photo by Linda Weiford.

On that day, 7.3 inches of snow fell in Spokane, shattering the record of 4 inches set in 1923. Less than a week later, winter further tightened its grip when arctic air carried southward brought the year’s first big chill to eastern Washington.  On Feb. 19, the temperature sank to a low of minus 6 degrees in Pullman, breaking its previous record of minus 1 set in 1910. On Feb. 21, the Spokane office of the National Weather Service recorded its coldest day of the year with a reading of minus 3 degrees.

This past weekend, heavy snow and gusty winds pelted parts of the Inland Northwest. Between 6-8 inches fell on the Palouse and almost a foot of snow on Mt. Spokane. Winds rolled through the region on Sunday, with gusts clocking up to 52 mph at Spokane International Airport.

As February tops out with a mix of snow, rain and gloomy gray, remind yourself that it’s the calendar’s shortest month and spring is only three weeks away.

Weathercatch is a bimonthly column that appears in The Spokesman-Review. Nic Loyd is a meteorologist with Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet. Linda Weiford is a WSU news writer and weather geek. Contact: linda.weiford@wsu.edu

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