Coldest in Decades
Frequent bouts of bitterly cold Arctic air and heavy snow which never seemed to melt characterized the month of February 2007. The month started out cold, then became extremely cold by mid-month, before closing out on a slightly warmer note. Prior to the start of February, winter had been in short supply, but by the end of the month, snow weary residents of Central Indiana were anxiously awaiting spring’s arrival.
February 2007 was in the top 5 for all time coldest and snowiest.
The following is a summary of the conditions experienced in Indianapolis during the month of February, 2007.
February 2007 finished with an average monthly temperature of 19.7 degrees. This was below normal by 11.5 degrees. February 2007 registered as the third coldest February ever recorded in the Indianapolis area. What was particularly remarkable is that no temperature records were broken during the month. It was a persistent and long lasting cold, which saw two peaks, from the 2nd through the 11th, and then the 13th through 19th. Nine days registered temperatures of more than 20 degrees below normal, with the 5th of the month coming in 25 degrees below normal.
Overall, only 5 days in February 2007 reported temperatures at or above normal. 16 days during the month saw a high temperature fail to reach the freezing mark. An average February sees 7 days with sub-freezing high temperatures.
The last time February was colder in Indianapolis was February of 1979, with an average temperature of 18.8 degrees in Indianapolis. Residents of the area may remember that 1979 was the second bitterly cold February in a row. February 1978 was the coldest ever recorded in Indianapolis with an average temperature of 17.8 degrees.
The coldest temperature of the month was -6 degrees on the morning of the 16th. This was the coldest February low temperature in Indianapolis since February 4, 1996.
February 2007 experienced nearly all of the precipitation in the form of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Not one day during the month experienced measurable precipitation without also reporting some kind of freezing precipitation. The biggest single day precipitation came on the 13th of the month, when the snowfall melted into 1.33 inches of liquid precipitation. The month as a whole was rather unremarkable in terms of precipitation, finishing with 2.77 inches. This was above normal by 0.36 inches.
Snow came in abundance during the month, and once it fell, it never melted. Snowfall on the 6th left a five inch snow depth. This snow depth never fell below 3 inches for the rest of the month. A total of 18.2 inches of snow fell during the month, making this the 4th snowiest February ever. This was above normal by 12.1 inches. The last time February brought more snow was February 2003, with 21.7 inches of snow, which was the snowiest February ever.
Three significant snow events made up the bulk of February’s snow total. The first event came on the 6th of the month, when 5.2 inches of powdery snow fell with very cold temperatures. Just a week later, on the 12th through 14th, one of the most significant snowstorms in years came to Indiana.
The event began late in the evening of the 12th, and continued through the entire day of the 13th. Falling heavily at times, snow rapidly accumulated across the area. Warming temperatures by mid-day on the 13th ensured that most areas saw at least a brief change over to sleet and freezing rain. The Indianapolis metro area saw a prolonged period of sleet and freezing rain most of the daylight hours of the 13th. Farther north, heavy snow and winds to 45 mph produced blizzard conditions. In excess of 15 inches of snow was reported at several locations in northern parts of Central Indiana.
The official three day snow measurement at Indianapolis was 8.5 inches. This made it the 11th biggest February snow storm at Indianapolis. The 13th saw 7.4 inches of snow during the calendar day, breaking the previous record of 4.5 inches set in 1914. This made February 13, 2007 the 4th snowiest February day ever at Indianapolis.
The final snow event came on the 17th, when 3.7 inches was tallied at Indianapolis. After this storm, the official snow depth reached 12 inches on the 18th of February. This was the deepest snow depth ever recorded on that date. In all, the 14th through 19th of the month saw the deepest snow depth recorded since February 1982.
Several snowfall records were broken in February 2007.
2/6: 5.2 inches of snowfall, breaking the previous daily record of 4.4 inches in 1940.
2/13: 7.4 inches of snowfall, breaking the previous daily record of 4.5 inches in 1914.
2/15: 10 inch snow depth, breaking previous record of 9 inches in 1979.
2/16: 9 inch snow depth, breaking previous record of 8 inches in 1979.
2/18: 12 inch snow depth, breaking previous record of 10 inches in 1979.
The official outlook for the month of March calls for an equal chance of temperatures and precipitation being above, below, or near normal for Central Indiana.
Data Prepared by Logan Johnson, Climate Services Focal Point
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Temperature and Precipitation Records Cover 1871-2006 in the Indianapolis Area.
Snowfall Records Cover the period 1884-2006 in the Indianapolis Area.
Normals refer to reference period 1971-2000.
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