12 February 2017

Astonishing February Heat From Colorado to Oklahoma, and Into The High Arctic

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Denver reached 80 degrees Friday, smashing their record high for the 10th of February by 9 degrees, but wait, there’s more. They also saw their hottest February temperature on record, and records there go back to 1872! Grant was President of the U.S. when temperature records began in Denver. Colorado Springs, and Pueblo, also saw their hottest February day on record.

The heat shifted south into Oklahoma today and Oklahoma City smashed their daily record, by an amazing 7 degrees!

The hottest Feb. day on record in Oklahoma City is 92 degrees. In Wichita Falls, Texas, the hottest February day WAS 93, on 22 Feb.1996. Not anymore. They hit 94 today!

Western Oklahoma saw high sin the 90’s as well. The map below is from the Oklahoma Mesonet. Too bad, that more states do not have a high-density mesonet like this.

What caused the incredible warmth? It was hot, dry, desert air from the Mexican Plateau. It moved northeastward across West Texas and into Oklahoma. The air was dropping in elevation most of the way, and compression made it even hotter. Descending air will warm about 3º C for every 1000 feet loss in elevation, and the wind flow was such today that it gave the hottest temps. to SW Oklahoma. Strong downslope winds produced the heat in Colorado on Friday as well, as a westerly wind flow over the front range descended over a mile into the Denver area.


The High Arctic has seen yet another blast of warm air this winter, with temps. above freezing in northern Greenland. The warmth in the Arctic this winter is beyond description, and the Arctic ice remains at the lowest levels on record for this time of year. How this loss of ice is affecting the storm track and Rossby wave patterns is the subject of intense research.

Two good Twitter accounts to follow for Arctic ice news are Zack Labe (@ZLabe) and Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49). Brian also has been posting stats on the wild swings from frigid air to record warmth in Alaska

Look at the sea ice data the Zack Labe posted today on Twitter (from the NSIDC data):

Note: I am from Oklahoma, and my wife is visiting our daughter in Oklahoma City today. She tells me that people were in shorts today! The image below shows land temperatures fro an infrared sensor on the NASA Aqua satellite. The green areas are cooler temps. over lakes. You can see that indeed, SW Oklahoma was the hottest part of the state.