These 12 US states had the hottest January and February ever recorded
A quarter of the United States has experienced the hottest January-February period on record, according to new data published on Wednesday.
The monthly climate assessment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that much of the eastern US experienced record, or near-record, warmth at the beginning of 2023.
Twelve states – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia – had their hottest January and February ever recorded. A further 18 states had a top-ten hottest January and February.
These heat records were set regardless of the fact that a powerful Arctic blast pummelled parts of the Northeast in early February, resulting in subzero conditions, downed powerlines and disrupted travel.
In California, a wave of atmospheric rivers and rare blizzards have delivered record rain and snow.
While the extreme conditions wrought devastation up and down the state, one benefit was an improvement in California’s long-running drought. The severe storms cut California’s drought footprint in half – from 98 per cent at New Year to 49 per cent at the end of February, NOAA reported.
A cyclone, known as a “Kona Low”, also brought between one and two feet of rain to parts of Hawaii’s Big Island in the middle of February, causing dangerous flash flooding and power outages.
At the end of February, the US Drought Monitor showed that just over a third of the contiguous US (38.5 per cent) remained in drought - with the worst-impacted areas from the Great Basin to the Pacific Coast and across much of the Great Plains.
While weather conditions still deliver much short-term variability, the long-term climate crisis is making it hotter on average throughout the year.
Winter is the fastest-warming season for most of the US with one immediately noticeable impact being lack of snow.
Much of the Northeast has seen well-below average snowfall this winter. Less than a foot of snow has fallen in Boston, and New York City didn’t see measurable snow until 1 February, the latest on record. Even then, it didn’t amount to much - the total snowfall in the Big Apple is a little over two inches - well below the 30-inch winter average.
Overall, the average February temperature for the contiguous US (that is, not counting Hawaii and Alaska) was 36.5F - 2.7F above average, according to NOAA. That made last month the third hottest February on record.
In Alaska, the January-February temperature was 8.5F - five degrees above the long-term average. The vast majority of the state saw above-average temperatures, NOAA added.