Chilling out: Feb. was a lot colder than usual

2013-03-01T00:00:00Z 2013-03-01T13:23:22Z Chilling out: Feb. was a lot colder than usualDoug Kreutz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

We know it was a cold February in Tucson - the snow in town last week tipped us off - but now the National Weather Service has tabulated the frigid facts.

The cold truth: The average temperature in Tucson last month was 50.9 degrees - a chilly 4.4 degrees below the normal February average temperature of 55.3 degrees.

"That's a huge difference" when considering the average temperature over an entire month, said John Glueck, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Glueck noted that the final reading for last month's average temperature could even slip one-tenth of a degree - to 50.8 degrees - depending on temperature changes in the final hours of Thursday evening.

But whatever the exact final reading, "it's definitely been much colder" than normal, Glueck said.

That cold trend goes back to January as well, when icy weather - including a low of 17 degrees on Jan. 15 - pushed that month's average temperature 2.8 degrees below normal.

LINGERING COLD

What pushed the average temperatures for January and February well below normal levels?

"Normally, when winter storms come into the area, they're around for about two days and then it warms back up again," Glueck said. "But this year, it was much more persistent" - with cold weather lingering in the area for several days or more.

But here's the thing: This February wasn't the coldest ever in Tucson.

The coldest February on record had an average temperature of 45.3 degrees in 1903, Glueck said. "We're not even close to that this year."

WARMER - FOR NOW

The weather service is forecasting highs of 70 to 75 degrees today - with temperatures topping out around 80 on Saturday and Sunday.

"We are expecting a warm-up over the next seven days, but there is actually another system that may bring us colder air next weekend - nine or 10 days from now," said weather service meteorologist J.J. Brost.

ABOUT THOSE PLANTS

Many Tucsonans are wondering when it will be OK to begin pruning frost-damaged plants.

A conservative approach would be to wait until mid-March to be sure the worst of the winter cold is over, said Jon Childers, a horticulture adviser at Mesquite Valley Growers.

"But you could do some pruning in the next couple of weeks," Childers said. "We're close enough to the cold being completely over. If we get another freeze, it probably wouldn't be a prolonged freeze. Unfortunately, none of us has a crystal ball."

On StarNet: For weather news, forecasts and safety tips go to azstarnet.com/news/weather

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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