Sumter sees 2nd-warmest February

After frigid January, last month marked 17.7-degree change

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 3/7/18

After bundling up next to the fireplace with near-record cold temperatures in January, Sumterites almost had to break out the shorts, sunglasses and flip-flops during February with near-record high temperatures.

National Weather Service …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Sumter sees 2nd-warmest February

After frigid January, last month marked 17.7-degree change

Posted

After bundling up next to the fireplace with near-record cold temperatures in January, Sumterites almost had to break out the shorts, sunglasses and flip-flops during February with near-record high temperatures.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Doug Anderson, based in Columbia, said Sumter County's near "balmy February" featured a significant average temperature increase from the first month on the calendar.

According to Anderson and National Weather Service data, Sumter County's overall average daily temperature - between the highs and lows - for the 28 days of February was 56.3 degrees, ranking as the second-warmest February by that indicator for the county dating back to 1930. (It was in 1930 that the service's record books became more comprehensive with significantly fewer missing days' temperatures and data, Anderson said.)

In the 88 years since 1930, only the February of 1957 in Sumter was warmer than last month's average daily reading. That year's February had an overall average daily temperature of 57.2 degrees, almost one full degree warmer than this year's 56.3.

The county's warm February this year was in stark contrast to a frigid January, which featured an average overall daily temperature of 38.6 degrees, according to the weather service. The January average daily reading was the sixth-coldest by that indicator for Sumter dating back to 1930.

That 17.7-degree change ranks eighth overall for the largest one-month shift for the county, according to Anderson and the weather service. The largest one-month change in average temperature for Sumter was back in March 1960, when the average daily reading was 21.7 degrees higher than February. According to the weather service, Sumter has experienced a one-month change of 20 or more degrees twice. The county saw a 19.6-degree temperature change once, and three times it has seen a change of 18.1 to 18.7 degrees. One-month average temperature changes ranging from 17 to 17.9 degrees have occurred multiple times, according to Anderson.

"In my opinion, what we saw is certainly not uncommon," Anderson said. "However, it doesn't happen regularly enough that when a large change like this occurs, it sure stands out in our minds."

From a climatology standpoint, according to Anderson, in February a strong, long-wave high-pressure dome of warm air was positioned just off the coast of the Carolinas for an extensive period, bringing tropical air flow from the Central Pacific, Mexico and Central America.

"That big warm dome of air just prevents the cold air from coming down from Arctic Canada and reaching us," Anderson said. "So, basically, we got a conveyor belt of warm air that was brought up into our region."

February was also a very dry month for Sumter with just a little more than 1 inch of total precipitation (1.02 inches), according to the weather service. It was the ninth-driest February dating back to 1930, according to the official data. Normal rainfall for Sumter County in February is 3.48 inches, according to Anderson.

A year ago, Sumter also experienced a fairly warm February with an average daily temperature of 53.7 degrees, ranking as the 14th-warmest February on record.