- The last time the nation shivered though such a cold February was 1989.
- In Texas, dozens of people died due to the extreme cold, snow and ice that plagued the state during the middle of the month.
- February’s winter weather is potentially the most costly weather disaster for the state of Texas in history.
If you thought it was unusually cold last month, you were right: Thanks to an invasion of the polar vortex, February 2021 was the USA’s coldest February in over 30 years, according to a report released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The last time the nation shivered though through such a cold February was in 1989.
Below-average temperatures dominated much of the nation from the Northwest to the Great Lakes and south to the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA said. For six states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma – February 2021 was among the top 10-coldest Februaries on record.
U.S. weather records go back to 1895.
In Texas, which had its 11th-coldest February on record, dozens of people died because of the extreme cold, snow and ice that plagued the state during the middle of the month.
In mid-February, much of Texas endured its coldest temperatures since Dec. 23, 1989. At one point, all 254 counties across Texas were under a winter storm warning. In addition, wind chill temperatures were below zero as far south as the Rio Grande River, NOAA reported.
Several locations across central Texas, including Austin and Waco, broke records for their longest freezing streak with temperatures below freezing for six to nine consecutive days from Feb. 10-19.
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Power outages, which were concentrated across Texas but widespread throughout much of the South, occurred over several days with sustained below-freezing temperatures. At the peak of the outage, nearly 10 million people were without power.
While the damage is still being assessed, February’s winter weather is potentially the most costly weather disaster for the state of Texas in history, surpassing even Hurricane Harvey from 2017, the National Weather Service said.
In addition, snow covered a whopping 73% of the Lower 48 states on February 16 – the highest percentage since national snow-cover records began in 2003. Snow covered an area from northeastern Mexico and nearly all of Texas to the Great Lakes and east to the mid-Tennessee Valley and across the Northeast.
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Farther north, intense cold also froze the north-central U.S.: A weather station near Ely, Minnesota, bottomed out at 50 degrees below zero on Feb. 13 and 14. Several other locations in northern Minnesota reported low temperatures in the minus-40 degree range on Feb. 13.
Overall, across the nation, more than 60 all-time daily cold minimum temperature records were broken from Feb. 11-16, NOAA reported.