Living Memory History: The Winter of 2013-2014

Duck Creek Park, 1934 -- not a record breaker, but still cold!

Duck Creek Park, 1934 — not a record breaker, but still cold!

We decided to blog this week about the weather because after a winter of freezing cold and permanent snow . . .  it’s still cold and still snowing.

And while that makes us a little sad, we thought it was a wonderful excuse to review weather stats to see how the winter of 2013-2014 compares to years past.

It turns out it’s doing very well, with several records broken. The National Weather Service identifies winter as running from December 1 to February 28. During that time, cold and snow dominated our weather forecast.

December of 2013 didn’t break any records with its mean temperature of 20.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 13.8 inches of snow, as recorded in Moline, Illinois.* December of 2000 still holds the records for coldest (13.1°F) and snowiest (32 inches).

January of 2014 faced a challenge, as in that month many low daily temperature and snow records were set in the Blizzard of 1979. It seems that January of 1979 still stands as the coldest (6.3°F) and snowiest (26.7 inches) recorded. January of 2014 gave it a good try but only produced a mean average of 14.8°F and 17.7 inches of snow. No records broken there!

Then came February 2014.  February 10th tied for a record low of -16°F with the same day in 1899.  February 11th had a new record low of -22°F, which surpassed the previous record of -15°F set in 1885.

These chilly temperatures helped February of 2014 tie for the 5th spot in the Top Ten Coldest Februarys. The mean temperature in Moline was 14.6°F, which is shared by February of 1905.

Snow is what really took over in February of 2014: 22.3 inches of it fell in Moline that month. This moved February 2014 into the #1 spot for Snowiest February on record for that city.  Both 2011 and 1994 had previously held first place, with 20.7 inches, and now hold second.

As we move into March the official records for the winter (December, January, February) can be studied. How did the winter of 2013-2014 fair in light of some stiff (and cold) competition?

The coldest winter on record (since 1872 of course) in Moline, Illinois is still held by the winter of 1978-1979 with an average mean temperature of 14.1°F. The winter of 2013-2014 came in with a mean temperature of 16.6°F, landing it in sixth place in the Top Ten.

However, 2013-2014 took over the Snowiest Winter category, with 53.8 inches, which is the official total recorded (today’s delightful snowfall will fall under Spring record keeping from March 1st – May 31st). Stunningly, the winter of 1978-1979 fell to second with 52.9 inches,** though as some of us recall, about half of that fell within a forty-eight hour period.

Now we focus on Spring with the start of March. Is it coming in like a lion or a lamb?

A record cold high was set on March 2, 2014 of 7°F with a record cold low of -12°F, set on March 3rd.  Hear that roar?

We certainly hope the old weather lore of March coming in like a lion or lamb and leaving the opposite way holds true.

The lamb of warm spring temperatures is looking pretty good right now!


*While records are also maintained in Davenport, IA, official record keeping in this city did not begin until the 1980s. Record keeping began in Moline, IL in 1872.

**Some may argue that 1978-1979 had more snow as November 1978 had 7.1 inches fall compared to only 0.8 inches in 2013. As the National Weather Service places November in the Autumn category, it was not included.

(posted by Amy D.)

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