Historic Warmth, Thursday - Saturday February 23-25, 2017

Record breaking warmth does not typically warrant an analysis in a monthly summary. However, it's noteworthy that the cold season occurrences of record warmth to date have been increasing which makes this latest episode of winter heat important to document.

The 74° high temperature recorded at Albany on February 24, 2017 broke both the all time February record high temperature for Albany along with the highest temperature on record for all of meteorological winter, the months of December, January, and February. And what's particularly remarkable about this record is that it beat the previous record high meteorological winter temperature of 72° set only a year and one month prior on December 24, 2015. But, unlike the December heat event, where the warmth was relatively brief in duration with temperatures at or above 60° for ten hours and at or above 70° for two of those hours, this February 2017 heat event was part of a three consecutive day string of uninterrupted record warmth with the temperature reaching 69° on the 23rd, 74° on the 24th and 70° on the 25th, making it unprecedented in the record.

To date, the list of very rare 70°+ days at Albany in meteorological winter grew from four to six in February 2017

February 24 2017 74°
December 24 2015 72°
January 6 2007 71°
December 29 1984 71°
January 13 1932 71°
February 25 2017 70°

Records @ Albany for the February 23-25th period

February 23: Daily high temperature: 69° at 2:55pm - Sets a new record high for the date
, previous 62°/1984
February 23: Record high mean temperature: 55.0°,
previous 48.0°/1981
February 23: Highest February temperature on record
, previous 68° February 22, 1997

February 24: Daily high temperature: 74° at 4:19pm - Sets a new record high for the date
, previous 65°/1985
February 24: Record high mean temperature: 57.5°, previous 53.5°/1985
February 24: All time February record high mean temperature of 57.5°,
previous 55.5° set on February 20, 1930
February 24: Highest February temperature on record
, previous 69° February 23, 2017
February 24: Highest temperature on record for meteorological winter
, previous 72° December 24, 2015

February 25: Daily high Temperature: 70° at 1:29pm - Sets a new record high for the date,
previous 67°/1976
February 25: Record high mean temperature: 53.5°, previous 47.5°/1891

Set Up

Unlike the warm events on both December 24, 2015 and January 6, 2007, where pre-existing conditions were already mild with no snow on the ground, and where a significant warming downslope southwest wind in advance of approaching cold fronts developed to aide in boosting the temperature, the warm stretch in February 2017 was due in large part to the simple advection, or movement, of a pre-existing record warm air mass into the Northeast. Prior to the warmth locally, cold weather prevailed the first two weeks in February with two snow storms dropping a combined two feet of snow leaving a snow pack in place as the warm up began. The fact that temperatures on the 23rd, the first day of the record warmth, were able to soar into the mid and upper 60s while some of the sun's energy went into melting snow vs. warming the ground and subsequently the air, is the major testament to how unusually warm the air mass was, having been developing in the previous two weeks over the central part of the country.

It is also interesting to note that peak temperatures at 850 mb climbed to a lower general range of +8° to +10° C on average through this period, compared to 13° to 15° C on December 24, 2015, indicating the atmosphere in this February event was mixing through a much deeper layer than on December 24, 2015.

2pm Northeast Temperature Observations on Thursday February 23, 2017

2pm Northeast Temperature Observations, Thursday February 23, 2017

Friday the 24th
Conditions on on the 24th, the warmest of the three days, at least from the Capital Region and southern Vermont on south, were a little different than on the 23rd when all areas were warm and dry with partial sunshine.

A weak cold front had dropped into the region Thursday night, briefly slipping into the Catskills and mid Hudson valley prior to daybreak, allowing for cooling into the morning with temperatures dropping into the 30s across the Adirondacks, Lake George- Saratoga Region into Vermont with 40s from the Capital Region on south. An area of showers and some thunder occurred along and north of the warm front during the early to mid morning. The boundary, however, lifted north as a warm front, pushing north of Albany, but stalling south of Glens Falls. Strong sunshine developed in the warm air mass south of the boundary in the Capital Region which allowed temperatures to surge into the upper 60s to mid 70s. At the same time, however, cloudier, foggy and much cooler weather prevailed across the Adirondacks to Lake George and into Rutland County, VT where temperatures were much lower.

2pm Northeast Temperature Observations on Friday February 24, 2017

2pm Northeast Temperature Observations, Friday February 24, 2017 

Saturday the 25th
Conditions changed again on the 25th as strong southerly flow developed in advance of an approaching western New York cold front. The flow, gusting at times from 30-40 mph, drove the warm and increasingly humid air north throughout the region allowing all time February record warmth up through Glens Falls and Burlington, VT with periods of partial sunshine into the early afternoon. Dewpoints, especially from the Mohawk valley and Capital Region on south, climbed to a range of 50°-55° as well. A severe thunderstorm squall line developed along the front which moved from west to east across the region from the mid afternoon through the early evening ultimately ending the record three day stretch of warmth.

3pm Northeast Temperature Observations on Saturday February 25, 2017

3pm Northeast Temperature Observations, Saturday February 25, 2017 

NOTE: Antecedent mild conditions for the most part prevailed from the end of December through January, with a dip in temperatures the first two weeks in February (but still largely at or above average.) The jet stream pattern through the winter was dominated by a +AO (Arctic Oscillation) with noteworthy weakening of the polar vortex in early to mid December, when it was cold, and again in early February, when it trended colder. A very weak La Nina early in the winter trending neutral and ending in February was also in place. But it was the dominance of the +AO that prevented the cold air masses that did develop and move in from having any staying power through the winter nationally which allowed for frequent build-ups of mild air masses. It was a pattern that contributed to this record warm event and lead to February 2017 going down in the record books as the warmest in many locations in not only the Northeast, but across the country.

Temperature, Dewpoint, Wind Plot For Albany, Thursday February 23, 2017
Normal High = 37°
Normal Low = 19°

TIME
TEMPERATURE
DEWPOINT
WIND DIR/SPEED- Weather
12am
46
35
South 5 mph
1am
44
36
South 3 mph
2am
46
36
South 3 mph
3am
46
37
South 6 mph
4am
46
47
South 5 mph
5am
45
36
South 7 mph
6am
43
36
South 3 mph
7am
43
36
Calm
8am
46
37
South 9 mph
9am
48
38
South 14 mph
10am
52
39
South 12 mph
11am
56
40
South 14 mph
12pm
60
42
South 20 mph
1pm
65
43
South 14 G 24 mph
2pm
67
45
South 15 mph
3pm
69
46
South 13 mph
4pm
68
46
South 10 mph
5pm
67
46
South 8 mph
6pm
64
47
South 7 mph
7pm
62
47
South 5 mph
8pm
63
47
South 7 mph
9pm
55
46
Calm
10pm
48
42
Calm
11pm
47
21
Calm

Temperature, Dewpoint, Wind Plot For Albany, Friday February 24, 2017
Normal High = 37°
Normal Low = 19°

TIME
TEMPERATURE
DEWPOINT
WIND DIR/SPEED- Weather
12am
47
43
Calm
1am
45
42
Calm - Patchy Fog
2am
44
41
Calm - Patchy Fog
3am
46
42
Calm - Patchy Fog
4am
46
42
Calm
5am
47
43
Calm
6am
44
42
NW 5 mph
7am
44
41
Calm - Light Rain
8am
46
43
Calm - Light Rain
9am
48
44
Calm
10am
52
45
North 3 mph
11am
59
50
South 12 mph
12pm
64
51
South 14 mph
1pm
69
52
South 12 mph
2pm
72
51
South 16 G 24 mph
3pm
73
51
South 16 G 22 mph
4pm
74
51
South 9 mph
5pm
72
49
South 15, G 24 mph
6pm
70
49
South 14 mph
7pm
68
50
South 12, G 24 mph
8pm
66
51
South 17, G 25 mph
9pm
64
51
South 17, G 25 mph
10pm
62
51
South 13, G 21 mph
11pm
61
51
South 13 mph

Temperature, Dewpoint, Wind Plot For Albany, Saturday February 25, 2017
Normal High = 37°
Normal Low = 20 °

TIME
TEMPERATURE
DEWPOINT
WIND DIR/SPEED- Weather
12am
59
51
South 13 mph
1am
59
51
South 14, G 29 mph
2am
60
53
South 14, G 23 mph
3am
60
53
South 13 mph
4am
60
54
South 10 mph
5am
61
54
South 12, G 17 mph
6am
61
53
South 13, G 23 mph
7am
60
53
South 15, G 23 mph
8am
63
53
South 20, G 28 mph
9am
62
53
South 21, G 28 mph
10am
64
53
South 18, G 30 mph
11am
67
53
South 24, G 33 mph
12pm
67
52
South 25, G 35 mph
1pm
68
52
south 16, G 31 mph
2pm
68
51
South 21, G 36 mph
3pm
68
50
South 23, G 37 mph
4pm
67
50
South 22, G 39 mph
5pm
66
51
south 15, G 28 mph
6pm
44
38
NW 28 G 40 mph - Rain
7pm
39
36
NW 17 G 23 mph - Rain/Thunderstorm
8pm
38
34
NW 8 mph - Light Rain
9pm
38
34
West 7 mph - Light Rain