Coldest winter ever

By JIM ANDERSON

News Editor

IRON MOUNTAIN – December through February was the coldest winter period in more than a century of record-keeping at Iron Mountain-Kingsford.

The average temperature for the bitter three-month span was 7.2 degrees, which was 8.8 degrees below normal and the coldest on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The previous record was 8.7 degrees, dating back to 1903-04, nearly five years before Henry Ford would introduce the Model T.

Since early winter, a resilient upper air pattern has pushed streams of cold Canadian air into the region, and February was no exception, said weather service meteorologist Kevin Crupi in Marquette.

“February 2014 goes down in the record books as the second coldest February at Iron Mountain since 1899, trailing only February 1904 for first place,” Crupi said. “For the third month in a row, a cold northwest flow of Canadian air dominated the upper Great Lakes.”

February daily lows at Iron Mountain-Kingsford were zero or below zero a record 22 days, Crupi said. The average temperature last month was 5.9 degrees, a frigid 11.6 degrees below normal, but slightly higher than the record of 4.1 degrees set in 1904. The highest temperature for the month was 44 degrees on Feb. 19, and the lowest was minus 25 on Feb. 11.

A low of minus 24 on Feb. 28 was a record for that date.

Snowfall in February measured 14.9 inches, which was 6.2 inches above normal. Water-equivalent precipitation was 1.43 inches, which was 0.43 inches above normal.

December through February snowfall was also above normal, measuring 52.9 inches, which was 16.6 inches above normal and the 12th-highest on record.

Statistics for the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant cooperative observer site are based on records that began in March 1931. Data from years before 1931 were taken at nearby sites. Normals used are for the period 1981 through 2010.

Iron River was the coldest spot in the U.P. in February, with an average temperature of just 1.8 degrees, Crupi said. The lowest temperature for the month was minus 41 near Newberry on Feb. 28.

“The combination of the very cold weather that dominated in December and January as well as all this sub-zero chill in February caused the frost depth to descend farther into the ground than usual,” Crupi said. “The result was a freezing of shallower water pipes and disruption of water service to many homes across the U.P.”

It was the coldest February on record at the weather service station in Negaunee Township, the third-coldest at Newberry and Munising, the fourth-coldest at Manistique and the fifth-coldest at Ironwood and Houghton.

For December through February, it was the record coldest at Ironwood (5.1 degrees), Newberry (10.1 degrees), Manistique (11.4 degrees) and Negaunee Township (7.5 degrees). It was the second-coldest at Munising (11.1 degrees) and Houghton (9.2 degrees) and fifth-coldest at Marquette (12.7 degrees).

A cool spring may also be ahead. The long-range forecast calls for a greater than climatological chance of below normal temperatures across the Upper Peninsula through June, along with normal precipitation trends.

Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere this year on March 20 at 11:57 a.m. (Central time), Crupi said.

Some other temperature and precipitation observations across the U.P. in February:

– Ironwood, average temperature 5.3 (9.6 degrees below normal), snowfall 30.2 inches (2 inches above normal).

– Ontonagon, average temperature 8.9 (10.6 degrees below normal), snowfall 27 inches (0.1 inches below normal).

– Baraga, average temperature 9 degrees, snowfall 11.8 inches.

– Big Bay, average temperature 9.9 degrees, snowfall 21.5 inches.

– Marquette, average temperature 10.9 (9.8 degrees below normal), snowfall 18.3 inches (2.4 inches below normal).

– Munising, average temperature 8.4 (11 degrees below normal), snowfall 21.3 inches (5.2 inches below normal).

– Newberry, average temperature 7.4 (11.3 degrees below normal), snowfall 16.5 inches (7.2 inches below normal).

– Iron River, average temperature 1.8 degrees, snowfall 14.6 inches.

– Norway, average temperature 8.5 degrees, snowfall 12.7 inches.

– Escanaba, average temperature 9 degrees, snowfall 14.3 inches.

– Garden Corners, average temperature 4.4 degrees, snowfall 13.2 inches.

– Manistique, average temperature 9.4 (9.9 degrees below normal), snowfall 10.5 inches (4.1 inches below normal).

Jim Anderson’s email address is janderson@ironmountaindailynews.com.