While it’s been a rough winter so far for people in the north-central and northeastern U.S., both December and January were actually warmer than average across the country overall.
The U.S. is having its sixth-warmest winter on record, according to data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), which has records back to 1895.
For the first two weeks of February, while chilly weather enveloped the northeastern U.S. and record snow buried New England, practically the entire western half of the nation was seeing phenomenal, record warmth.
How warm? So far this month, there have been 4,074 records set for warm temperatures —- mostly in the West — and only 236 records for cold temperatures, the NCDC reported.
Records for warm temperatures have been set in Seattle, San Jose, Las Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake City and Butte, Mont.
In Salt Lake City, the average temperature in February is a whopping 16.4 degrees above average, AccuWeather said. Other warm spots include Boise (12.2 degrees above average) and Phoenix (8 degrees above average).
The lack of cold and snow is exacerbating California’s severe drought. California’s snowpack (snow water equivalent) is currently only 27% of normal, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Ski areas across the West have struggled to stay open this winter because of the lack of snow. “We are temporarily closed until the next storm comes in,” the Mount Shasta Ski Area in California said on its website.
“Keep praying for snow” is the plea on the website of Willamette Pass Resort in Oregon.
The pattern shows no signs of changing, with ongoing warmth in the West and freezing cold in the East for the next few weeks, according to the Climate Prediction Center. While some cold records were set in the past couple of days, the next Arctic outbreak later this week could set new February records for cold, according to the Weather Underground.
“Dozens of daily records could tumble, and some locations — especially mid-South locations with snow cover — will be in a good position to set records for lowest temperature so late in the winter,” Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson said.