Drone: Winter cruising over Columbia River
February 2019 will go down in the history books as one of the coldest, wettest, snowiest Februaries in the Tri-Cities since records began being kept in the late 1800s.
The National Weather Service compiled data for the month as it also looked ahead to March weather.
Expect temperatures that are colder than normal this month and near normal precipitation in the Tri-Cities, it said.
Snow is possible in the coming week, with the temperature not expected to climb above freezing on most days.
Near record snow, rain, cold
February likely was the snowiest in the Tri-Cities in the last 100 years, even if it didn’t set an all-time record, according to the National Weather Service.
The month ended with a total of 23.1 inches at the weather service’s Kennewick gauge.
That’s the most on record since 1916 when 24 inches were measured at the same gauge.
Since then, data is missing for more than 25 Februaries. But of the Februaries for which records were kept, none after February 1916 came close to the snow of February 2019.
The next highest amount on record was 9.5 inches in 1933.
As is expected with heavy snow, precipitation also was high.
It also ended up the second wettest February on record in the Tri-Cities with 3.09 inches of precipitation, which was 2.31 inches above normal.
The record precipitation for the month was 3.57 inches in 1940.
And the month also was much colder than usual.
The average temperature in Kennewick in February was 26.4 degrees, which was nearly 13 degrees below normal, according to the weather service.
That made it the fourth-coldest February on record. The coldest, with only a few missing years of data since 1901, was in 1936 when the temperature averaged 22.1 degrees.
Temperatures dropped below zero on two days in February, with a temperature of minus 2 recorded at the Pasco airport on Feb. 6 and a temperature of minus 1 recorded there the next day.
The coldest high temperature for the month was 21, recorded in Richland on Feb. 11.
Hanford breaks records
At the Hanford Meteorological Station north of Richland, multiple cold and snow records fell in February.
February had 25.3 inches of snow, the most for any winter month since daily records have been kept at Hanford since World War II.
The previous record for February was 17 inches of snow in 1989, and the record for snowiest month was the 23.4 inches of snow that fell in January 1950.
The maximum snow on the ground at Hanford in February 2019, as measured each morning at 4 a.m.., was 14 inches on Jan. 15.
The month had a record number of days with highs that were at or below freezing — 18 days.
It also tied 2005 for the record number of days with lows at or below freezing — every day but one.
Daily temperature records were set on four days, all for the coldest high temperature:
▪ Feb. 10 high was 24, colder than the record 30 recorded most recently in 2014.
▪ Feb. 11 high was 21, colder than the record 27 sent in 1954.
▪ Feb. 19 the high was 27, colder than the record 28 set in 1956.
▪ Feb. 23 the high was 33, colder than the record 34 recorded most recently in 1993.
March weather prediction
The month is starting with temperatures far below normal for March and colder than normal weather could persist for the month, according to the weather service.
In a typical March highs increase from a normal of 53 at the start of the month to 63 at the end of the month. Normal lows start at 31 and increase to 39 by the end of the month, according to the weather service.
Temperatures should stay far below normal as the Tri-Cities gets a break from snow at least through Tuesday.
Monday should be the coldest day in the next week, with a high of 22 forecast and a low Monday night of 10.
A chance of snow returns Tuesday night through Wednesday night, turning to a chance of rain and snow on Thursday, according to the early forecast.
Temperatures will warm as the predicted storm arrives, but should still be far below normal. The early forecast puts the low at 22 Wednesday night and the high at 34 Thursday.