Above-average February temperatures topple over 1,000 records in U.S. alone

After delivering waves of springlike temperatures across the globe and even toppling a few daily highs, February 2020 ranked globally as the second warmest on record, which date back to 1880.

The month’s global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average measured 2.11 Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Report. This falls less than a tenth of a degree from February 2016’s departure of 2.27 degrees, which was the warmest recorded February on record.

In Fahrenheit, the difference falls at 0.16 of a degree. In 2019, the average fell at 1.55 degrees above average.

This was the 44th consecutive February and 422nd consecutive month with temperatures nominally above the 20th century average, according to NOAA.

February average global land and ocean temperature departures from average from 1880 to 2020. Image/NOAA

“The 10 warmest Februarys on record globally have all occurred since 1998,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

Unlike during 2016, this year’s February did not get a boost in temperatures from El Niño — a routine climate pattern when sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean rise to above-normal levels for an extended period of time. The last February that wasn’t during an El Niño year was in 2018, when the global land and ocean surface temperatures only reached 0.77 degrees Celsius above average.

For the contiguous U.S., this February was ranked among the warmest one-third of the 126-year period of record. There were at least 1,438 daily record daily high temperature records across the nation during February 2020, according to NOAA.

“In terms of the Northern Hemisphere winter, December through February, this past winter was the second-warmest on record behind 2016,” Anderson said. “This was the warmest winter on record for France, where records go back to 1900. This was also the second-warmest summer on record for Australia.”

Antarctica even set an all-time high record when a weather station recorded the highest recorded temperature on the continent, 65 degrees Fahrenheit, near the beginning of the month.

Although February 2020 wasn’t the warmest globally, it still reached the warmest on record for a few nations. Image/NOAA

Much of Asia and the Caribbean region also had their warmest February, according to Anderson. This was also the driest February on record for Spain.

On the other end of the spectrum, February 2020 was the wettest on record for the United Kingdom, recording 8.23 inche, or about 237 percent of normal after enduring storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge.

There also some corners of the world that did experience abnormally low temperatures this winter.

“It was not warm everywhere,” Anderson said. “Alaska, northern Canada and far-eastern Russia were abnormally cold in February due mostly to the fact that the polar vortex, which was very strong, basically sat over the far-northern latitudes through the month, leading to persistent cold and significant sea ice growth.”

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