February 2019 Weather Review

Here is a look back at the month!

Posted: Feb 8, 2019 4:05 PM
Updated: Mar 1, 2019 5:25 PM

Snowfall for October to present is slightly above normal for the area.  Temperatures December to now have averaged slightly below normal for the area.

February mean temperatures ended up near to slightly below normal with near to slightly below normal snowfall.

Bitter cold & record-breaking snowfall occurred just northwest of the area.  Meanwhile, the southeast U.S. saw an early spring develop  with budding vegetation (that will be greatly damaged by the upcoming Arctic Blast).

The tendency for the worst cold & heaviest snowfall to set up just northwest of the area was largely the result of El Nino Modoki evolving into a bit of a La Nina-like situation.  It's warm blob in the central Equatorial Pacific migrated westward a bit. 

Now, it is migrated back eastward, shifting the cold & snow track more to the southeast once again.

WLFI Weather Records for February 2019:


1.  February 11-13, 2019 Powerhouse Storm: Ice to Rain & Dense Fog to Wind Event & Ground Blizzard

Icing event occurred initially with this storm, accompanied by east winds gusting up to 30 mph. It was an all-out damaging ice storm from eastern Iowa, across northern Illinois, just north of of the viewing area, all the way to northern Ohio. Up to 0.60" of ice was measured in northern Illinois. Hundreds of thousands of households were without power.

Up to 0.25" of ice was reported in the far northeastern part of the viewing area with many areas seeing 0.10-0.15" ice in the northern half. Even in the Greater Lafayette area & southward, some areas saw 0.05" ice & very slippery travel.

East winds blew in low-level cold air while, the southwest flow aloft brought in deep moisture & warmer air. This liquid rain fell & since the cold air was so shallow, the rain drops did not have a chance to freeze into an ice pellet or sleet. Thus, much of it fell as rain & froze on contact on surfaces. One of our spotters, Cindy, reported that there was brief sleet at Winamac, showing that the cold layer was briefly deep enough for some ice pellets.

Another interesting thing noted was that even when the 2m temperature read 33 or 34, the ice on the trees began to melt, but the rain continued to freeze on roadways & the ground. The ground was still partially covered in snow & frozen. After low temperatures to the single digits only a few days earlier, the ground was still ice cold. It took until the temperature reached 35-36 for the ice to stop accumulating on the ice-cold ground. The ice on the trees & powerlines melted much sooner & took longer to see ice accumulation as their surfaces were at the actual air temperature.

A few limbs were reportedly downed in Pulaski & Fulton counties from the ice with the east winds up to 30 mph.

Then, widespread dense fog enveloped the area on the morning of February 12 with visibilities 0.25 mile or less over nearly the entire viewing area for up to 5 hours.

Total freezing rain, plain rain & snowfall amounted up to 1.25" for the area.

Gusts of up to 56 mph late February 12 to early 13 occurred.

A couple isolated power outages were directly attributed to the wind.

The howling winds with the falling & accumulating dry, powdery snow resulted in ground blizzard conditions in the viewing area late evening to the overnight. White-out conditions occurred in open, rural areas.

This was an image of the ground blizzard in West Lafayette around 11:45 p.m. on February 12.


2.  February 7-8 Wind Event, Arctic Blast & Heavy Rainfall

Up to 2.5" of rainfall occurred over saturated ground in this event.

River & stream flooding was widespread.

Highs in the 50s to 60 dropped to single digits to mid teens by the early morning hours of February 8.

Gusts reached 55 mph in the ensuing wind event.


3.  February 23-24, 2019 Powerhouse Storm with Damaging High Wind Event & Big Temperature Plunge

Major, bombing storm system passed February 23-24 with a band of showers/storms on the evening of February 23..................

Then, a line of showers/storms with the risk of a couple isolated severe storms raced through late evening & into the overnight behind that first band.

High shear, but low CAPE in very dynamic environment resulted in meso circulations in the line with LEWPs & nodes.

If temperatures would have been higher than the 50s to near 60 with more CAPE (specifically surface CAPE), then severe weather risk, inclucing QLCS tornadoes would likely have occurred.

Instead the line produced multiple reports of pea hail & wind gusts 33-51 mph.

As storm bombed, it produced damaging non-t'storm wind event for 18 hours early Sunday to Sunday night.  This was exceptional duration for such a high wind event.  The duration of +50 mph gusts in parts of the viewing area exceeded 14 hours.

The first viewing area-wide High Wind Warning since November 2013 (high wind event followed tornado outbreak) was issued.

Gusts were measured as high as 68 mph.

Gusts led to building collapse in downtown Fowler (see below), power outages, tree damage & minor roof damage.

On a side note, wave of light snow accompanied the winds early on the 24th after 25-degree temperature drop in 4 hours.  A dusting of snow occurred in places.

Also, brisk winds from the system early on the morning of February 25 brought wind chills down to as low as -10 with actual air temperature down to as low as 10.

From the actual air temperature late Saturday night to the wind chill Monday morning, some areas saw a 64-degree drop in what it actually felt like outside.


4.  February 3, 2019:  Historic Temperature Rise After Arctic Outbreak

I have found in going through heaps of data back to 1879 for West Lafayette that when the temperature drops to -15 or less, it tends to stay quite cold for a while.

A set of events tends to precede an Arctic Outbreak episode. It is usually some colder weather that arrives after a milder spell, followed by a winter storm that lays down snow cover.

The Arctic front usually occurs just after the winter storm, often accompanied by blowing/drifting snow & dangerous wind chills. A bright, sunny, but dangerously cold day will follow with still strong winds creating dangerous wind chills.

The coldest night is usually the one just after this sunny day as the wind diminish.

Then, clipper train develops & brings pehaps two or three rounds of minor snowfall over a period of several days as the temperatures moderate.

Eventually, the trough with clippers flattens out & we thaw.

This process usually takes 1 to 1.5 weeks, however.

Also, these stronger Arctic Blasts tend to go all the way to the Gulf Coast & into Florida. Often the entire eastern half of the U.S. is in the cold wave. The brutal cold is usually not limited to just the Midwest or Northeast or Northern Plains, but an all-encompassing Arctic Outbreak that sends a freeze deep into Florida.

The recent Arctic Outbreak was different & broke tradition with what normally occurs with cold of this magnitude.

This cold outbreak did not go much farther south than Tennessee & was largely tied up in the Northern Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes & Northeast. It did get colder in the South, but the typical plunge of cold deeply southward that usually occurs with an outbreak of this magnitude did not occur.

The similar 1985 outbreak saw record cold to South Florida & the 1996 event saw single digits to south-central Texas. An ice storm hit the Gulf Coast in January 1996, as well. 1977 saw snow to the southern tip of Florida. Our below zero temperatures in December 2004 occurred as historic snow storm hit the Gulf Coast with parts of southeast Texas seeing +12" of snow.............the greatest snowstorm there since the big one of winter 1895 with +20".

This outbreak was in & out in an unusually rapid fashion & brought the extreme cold even with a lack of good snow cover here. Where there was good snow pack, it was as low as -38 in northern Illinois (new unofficial state record low temperture).

The unusual lack of rapid southward progression of this historic cold & lack of snow cover southward may have allowed it to moderate so quickly as the extreme cold covered less of an area. This may have been a surface to atmospheric feedback that we see like with heat & drought.

A 73-degree rise from such cold is an extreme rarity.

In going back to 1879, rises of +65 degrees after lows of <-15 in four days only occurs, on average, once every 70 years.

However, a +70-degree rise in 4 days or less with a <-15 cold wave or less has NEVER occurred.

Jumps of such magnitude usually take at least 7 days, as shown in the 140 years of data.

In the Crawfordsville data of January 1860, the -23 in early January shot up to 66 at in late January. Impressive, but it took a few weeks. The same thing have happened in 1864. Historic blizzard & cold occurred in early January with the coldest New Year's Day (by far) on record with a high of -15 & low of -22 with "a gale" & multiple reports of people freezing to death or loosing fingers & toes, even a nose from frost bite. Late month saw record warmth & flooding rainfall with high of 66 once again. This took weeks, however.

January-February 1883 & 1884 saw big jumps like this from -20 to -15 & snow to ice storm & flooding rain with 40s, 50s, even 60. This warm-up took more than a week, however. The jump from -33 to 59 in January 1887 took 15 days & the -33 to 50 in January 1885 took 12 days.

The former record largest temperature jump from <-15 in four days or less was 69 degrees set in February 1899. This occurred at the end of one of, if not the greatest, Arctic outbreaks since at least 1857 in the eastern U.S.

It is definitely interesting to note that just last year, at the end of the historic December 31, 2017-January 7, 2018 Arctic outbreak that we warmed 77 degrees in 5 days from -20 to 57, then back from 59 to -1 in two days afterward! We went from -20 to 38 in four days, a rise fo 58 degrees. 10 of 12 days dropped below 0 December 27-January 7 of last year!

Also, December 26-20, 1917 was close to making it into the +65 club with a 62-degree rise in 4 days from -12 to 50 in that historically cold, snowy winter of 1917-18.

So, +65 rise in such a short period after such cold has only happened twice since 1879 at West Lafayette:

1. 69 Degrees

February 13-16, 1899

-20 to 49 in 3 Days

This bore resemblance to our recent cold in terms of wind chill here. However, this was the Great 1899 Arctic outbreak that saw every state in the South reach state-record cold. Many of these records stand today, like the -2 recorded at Tallahassee, Florida. Also, a historic Nor'Easter with blizzard from Georgia to Maine struck.

Calculating the wind chill from the temperature taken & labled winds in the heart of the cold wave show wind chills reaching -48 at Purdue University.

It was interesting in seeing the extent of the cold of how rapidly it warmed. This may have had to do with the time of year. Temperature recover much more easily in mid to late February than mid to late January. However, late February to early March 1960 saw a historic outbreak of cold here with lows to -15 & the recovery was long & arduous. It was unusually cold until late March.

We also saw the 1899 Nor'Easter, which usually tends to halt rapid warming in a cold wave.

2. 68 Degrees

January 16-19, 1972

-18 to 48 in 3 Days

-20 to 48 in 4 Days

This was an extreme event in the extremely rapid onset & intensity of the cold, then the sudden flip to warm. In fact, in the southern U.S., after record cold, record warmth occurred just days later!

As the cold came in, Casper, Wyoming dropped 76 degrees in 48 hours (36 to -40). Lander, Wyoming measured a 92 mph wind gust. Indeed, a testament to the strength & loopiness of the upper jet, Spokane, Washington also had high winds with a measured gust of 59 mph.

Nashville, Tennessee dropped to a record low of -1 on the 16th, only to hit a record high 78 (highest temperature every recorded in Nashville in January at the time) on the 24th.

International Falls rose from -42 on the 14th to 36 on the 17th.

Here is a write-up from NOAA on this remarkable event:



5.  February 1 Snowfall, Freezing Drizzle..........Then Fog

This snowfall began late on January 31 & lasted to early February 1.

Much of the viewing area saw 2-4" of snowfall. The band of heaviest snowfall occurred southeastern Tippecanoe, through southern Clinton to far southern Tipton & Hamilton counties with some +4" amounts.

However, I did not receive reports in that band of any totals exceeding 5".

This clipper system occurred as much warmer air was beginning to ride in after our end of January Arctic Outbreak.

Patchy light freezing drizzle & fog followed as temperatures climbed.  This is one of 9 days in February that saw dense fog with visibility 0.25 or less here at WLFI.

Much of the viewing area saw 2-4" of snowfall last night. The band of heaviest snowfall occurred southeastern Tippecanoe, through southern Clinton to far southern Tipton & Hamilton counties with some +4" amounts.

However, I have received no reports in that band of any totals exceeding 5".

Any patchy light freezing drizzle or bits of snow pellet flurries are gone now & we can enjoy a warmer, calm afternoon with variable sunshine & clouds. However, there is still freezing mist/very light freezing drizzle reported in the Indianapolis area to as far northwest as Boone County.

MONTGOMERY: 2.5-3.2"

3.2" 6 Miles Southeast of Crawfordsville

2.5" Crawfordsville

FOUNTAIN: 1.8-4"

4.0" 3 Miles Northeast of Attica

3.5" Attica

3.0" Veedersburg

2.0" Covington

1.8" 3 Miles East of Covington

WARREN: 1.8-2.5"

2.5" 4 Miles South of Otterbein

2.0" Otterbein

2.0" Pine Village

1.8" 1 Mile Southwest of Pence

WHITE: 2.5-4"

4.0" 3 Miles Southeast of Brookston

4.0" 3 Miles North of Monticello

4.0" Monticello

3.8" Wolcott

2.5" 5 Miles West of Chalmers


4.0" 4 Miles Southwest of Delphi

3.6" Buck Creek

3.0" 5 Miles Northeast of Dayton

3.0" Battle Ground

3.0" 2 Miles West of West Lafayette

3.0" 2 Miles Southwest of West Lafayette

2.7" 1 Mile Southeast of Lafayette

2.7" Lafayette

2.5" 6 Miles Northwest of West Lafayette

2.5" 3 Miles Southeast of Otterbein

2.4" 3 Miles Northeast of Lafayette

2.0" West Lafayette Sewage Plant

BENTON: 2-3"

3.0" 5 Miles West of Round Grove

2.5" Otterbein

2.5" Earl Park

2.0" Fowler

2.0" Ambia

CARROLL: 1.9-4"

4.0" 5 Miles Northeast of Delphi

2.0" Burlington

1.9" Flora

CLINTON: 3-4.5"

4.5" 5 Miles West of Kirklin

4.3" Kirklin

4.2" Colfax

3.6" 5 Miles North-Northeast of Frankfort

3.0" Michigantown

3.0" Rossville

3.0" 1 Mile East of Frankfort

HOWARD: 3-4"

4.0" East of Greentown

3.5" 1 Mile East of Kokomo

3.0" 1 Mile Southeast of Kokomo

3.0" Kokomo

3.0" Russiaville

CASS: 2.2-4"

4.0" Logansport

2.2" Young America

MIAMI: 3.5-4"

4.0" 4 Miles East of Peru

4.0" 1 Mile Northeast of Denver

3.5" Peru

FULTON: 2.5"

2.5" Rochester


2.6" Francesville

JASPER: 1.6-3.5"

3.5" Remington

3.0" Rensselaer

2.5" 2 Miles South-Southwest of Rensselaer

2.5" 5 Miles Southwest of Rensselaer

2.1" 3 Miles South-Southeast of Wheatfield

2.0" 4 Miles Southwest of Demotte

1.6" Demotte

NEWTON: 1.6-3"

3.0" Kentland

2.5" 2 Miles West-Northwest of Morocco

2.0" Roselawn

1.6" Mt. Ayr

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Cool, wet evening....rain ending, but fog redeveloping.....
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