Is This Really February in California? All-Time Record Highs are Being Set

Brian Donegan
Published: February 7, 2018

As parts of the central and eastern United States deal with cold and snowy weather this month, Californians are wondering what happened to winter as they bask in record-breaking warmth more typical of spring or summer.

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Since the beginning of the year, well-above-average warmth has been dominant in the Golden State thanks to a dome of high pressure aloft centered either over the western U.S. or just off the Pacific Coast.

As a result, much of the West is in the midst of a top-five warmest year-to-date through Feb. 5, according to data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC).

The numbers in each colored box represent where the warmth ranks for the period of Jan. 1-Feb. 5, 2018, with brown and red boxes indicating a top-five warmest year-to-date.

It's the warmest year-to-date on record at San Diego, Los Angeles International Airport, Redding, Needles, Las Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake City and Tucson.

A temperature of 93 degrees was recorded Sunday in Thermal, California, a daily record for Feb. 4. The average high there in early February is 73 degrees.

Sandberg, California, set a new all-time February record high Sunday by reaching 82 degrees, four degrees above the previous February record of 78 degrees from Feb. 13, 2014. Just a day later, Sandberg soared to 88 degrees Monday, shattering that new monthly record high by another six degrees.

(MORE: California May Be Returning to Drought Again)

The first five days of February were all daily record highs in Monterey, California, with a high of 76 degrees Feb. 1 and 77 degrees Feb. 2-5.

Northern California has also been warm with the first five days of February featuring four days of 70-plus-degree warmth in Sacramento, which is equal to the average number of 70-degree days for the entire month.

Daily record highs were set in Sacramento Feb. 3 and 4, with highs of 74 degrees and 72 degrees, respectively.

Downtown San Francisco set daily records three straight days from Feb. 3-5, as temperatures reached 74 degrees Feb. 3 and 4 and 77 degrees Feb. 5. This is impressive given records in the city date back to 1874.

(MORE: Wildfire Outlook is Bad News for Late-Winter and Spring in Plains, Southwest)

Given all the monthly and daily records set in the past week, it comes as no surprise that temperatures are running well above average in the West. Some parts of the Great Basin currently have year-to-date temperature departures more than nine degrees above average.

Temperatures in the western states are running well above average since Jan. 1, 2018, as depicted by the orange and red contours on the map.
(NOAA Regional Climate Centers)

Additional record highs are likely to be broken through Friday before somewhat cooler air arrives for the weekend.

(MAPS: 10-Day Forecast Highs/Lows)

Brian Donegan is a digital meteorologist at Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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