Second verse, same as the first

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By Scot Johnson

Colleagues suggested that I simply write today’s date into last month’s weather summary.

Like January, February was warm, sunny and dry, and even more so. February brought its share of storm activity, but those storms brought mostly wind and little moisture.

High pressure dominated the Southwest during much of February, beginning with the first week.

The sky was clear, winds were light and each day was warmer than the previous day, which is typical when high pressure is in place. Temperatures soared to nearly 15 degrees above normal during the first week.

The maximum temperature of 57 degrees in Los Alamos on Feb. 5 beat the old record of 56 degrees set on that day in 1965.

On Feb. 8, a storm from California pushed the fair weather aside and was followed by a second storm on Feb. 10. But these storms left only two hundredths of an inch of precipitation in Los Alamos County.

This would be all the precipitation that we would measure during the month. And as is often the case when a storm has little moisture to work with, these days were particularly windy.

Unsettled weather characterized the middle of the month, while temperatures stayed close to the seasonal norm. High pressure returned around Feb. 20 to stay for the remainder of February, and again temperatures rose well above normal.

On Feb. 23, Los Alamos set a new temperature record of 63 degrees, beating the old record of 62 set in 1946. White Rock climbed even higher to 67 degrees that day, bettering the old record set in 1986 by a degree.

The average wind speed throughout February was eight miles per hour in Los Alamos, nearly 40 percent above normal. Daily maximum gust speeds averaged 29 mph in Los Alamos, about 20 percent above normal.

White Rock’s average wind speeds and daily gusts were about seven and 25 mph, respectively, or about 15 percent above normal.

The Climate Prediction Center’s long-term forecast continues to include warmer-than-normal temperatures and below-average precipitation through spring.

The forecast brightens this summer as the usual warmer-than-normal temperature predictions are accompanied by expectations of normal precipitation.

Scot Johnson is a meteorologist with the Waste and Environmental Services Division, Environmental Data and Analysis Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory.