February was so warm that it not only produced flowers way ahead of schedule, but also a blizzard of statistics from your Crozet weather geeks. The average temperature for the month was 49 degrees, which is a full 10 degrees above normal. To put it another way, the February average was more like a normal March 20, meaning that spring has been a full five weeks ahead of schedule.
Snow was completely absent. We average 6.3 inches a year for snow in February, so we wondered how often we get through February without any. It turns out that a snowless February is not that unusual. We have good snowfall records back to about 1950 and February has been skunked 13 times in 67 years. That’s almost 20 percent of the time. The last time it happened was 2002 and 1999 before that.
The snowiest February of all time was 1979 with 23.5”. Honorable mention goes to 1983, 2003, 1961, and 1964 with each month getting over 20 inches.
If you have been watering your new-found flowers, you aren’t alone. Rainfall in February was a scant 0.61”, well below the average of 3.32”. We started the year with a normal water table so long-term drought is not a concern at this time.
Of course, an early spring means frost problems. March temperatures have dropped as low as 3 degrees (2014) and we get below 20 enough to make that a real possibility. We drop to freezing a full 37 percent of the time, so we are definitely going to freeze this month. The fewest freeze days ever in March was two, in 1945 and 1903. In 1960, we dropped below freezing 26 times in March. The question is not “if” but rather “when.” Heidi is armed with old blankets and is ready to try to save the plants she can.