February cold not as deep as it was long

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Just in case there’s someone out there who hasn’t noticed, it’s been a cold winter.
In February, Tupelo’s weather station recorded 21 days where temperatures reached freezing or below, compared with just 10 in February 2009 and 13 the year before.
“This has been the seventh-coldest February since 1930,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Howell, noting that the average temperature was 38.3 degrees in Tupelo.
It was only the cumulative effect of last month’s cold that was remarkable, however. The weather set no records, but the low temperature reached freezing or lower on 13 consecutive days.
Only 14 similar stretches have been recorded since 1900 in Tupelo, but one of those was 15 consecutive sub-freezing nights was in January.
And while March started off relatively mild, with a high in the upper 40s, colder nights are ahead. Forecasts call for lows in the 20s at least through Friday.
The true nature of February’s cold is shown in gas and electric bills: The month generated 737 heating degree-days – a measure of how much the temperature dips below 65 Fahrenheit – compared to just 489 in 2009 and 527 in 2008. February’s average is 559 heating degree days here.
January and February both tested people’s ability to keep up with the cold.
“It was pretty hectic around here,” said Veronica Knowles, customer service representative with Rebel LP Gas in Ripley. “I’ve been here four years, and this is the first year I’ve seen it like this. We worked several Saturdays, and we’ve had to put the service man in a delivery truck during the week to keep up.”
Tupelo didn’t get the blasts of snow that some border counties experienced, but it did have four days of snowfall. Coincidentally, each of those four days tied its date’s “record” snowfall – a trace.
No snowfall was recorded in Tupelo in February 2009, and only one day had a trace in the same month in 2008.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

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