February coldest on record

Charlie Stump is bundled up against the cold as he fuels his truck the morning of March 5. Temperatures rose to 12 degrees  as the sun crested the eastern hills. A new record low of -12 degrees gripped Buffalo on March 4.

The new year started with unseasonably warm, sunny weather to the point that some were wondering if we were even going to have a winter. Then the bottom dropped out in February, and Buffalo set a new record for the coldest February on record.

According to the National Weather Service in Riverton, the average temperature for Buffalo in February was 13.0 degrees – 15.1 degrees below normal and the coldest February since 1998 when the NWS began collecting temperature data at the airport. The cooperative observation site in Buffalo had the second coldest February on record at 11.1 degrees – the average is 26.5 – with records dating back to 1900. The coldest February there was 5.9 degrees in 1936.

“The main reason we had that persistent cold is that we had a lot of flow coming down from the northwest. As a result, there was a lot of cold air from Canada spreading over the state,” said Chris Hattings, NWS meteorologist. “We had a few days here and there when the cold air got pushed out, but then in another day or two, it seemed like another Arctic blast came down.”

Normally, by the last week in February, Buffalo can expect an average daily high of 40 degrees, but this year the daily high temperatures were in the low single digits.

Total precipitation for the month was 0.04 inches, which was just 11 percent of normal. This makes it the second driest February on record since 1998. Snowpack in the Powder River Basin was 95 percent of normal on March 4.

Hattings said that in the next seven to 10 days Buffalo can expect increasing temperatures.

“We won’t see any warm temperatures the next few days, but it looks like the bitterly cold is done for a while,” he said. “The air is coming in from the Pacific Ocean, so it will still be cool but not cold.”

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