February 2016: Warmest February on record

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February 2016: Warmest February on Record

By JON ERDMAN, Weather.com

For the third month in a row, Earth's global temperatures in February 2016 were the most abnormally warm on record for any month, according to an analysis released by NASA Saturday.

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February's global temperature departure of 1.35 degrees Celsius above the 1951-1980 average topped the previous record just set in January (1.13 degrees Celsius above average), according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

NASA

February 2016 temperature departures from average, in degrees Celsius, relative to 1951-1980 average. Brown/blue contours correspond to temperatures most above/below February averages. (NASA/GISS)

That may not sound impressive, but ingesting temperature data over the entire surface of the Earth, NASA's analysis found this was the largest monthly warm temperature anomaly in their database dating to 1880, topping a record set the previous two months in a row.

A separate analysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting also found February 2016 set a new record-warm anomaly for the globe, 0.86 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average. That reanalysis, however, dates only to 1979.

Separate analyses from the Japanese Meteorological Agency and NOAA will be released in the coming week.

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The global record was paced again by exceptional warmth in the northern hemisphere higher latitudes. Much of Alaska into western and central Canada, as well as eastern Europe, Scandinavia and much of Russia were at least 4 degrees Celsius (roughly 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above February averages, according to NASA/GISS.

NASA calculated February temperatures north of 75 degrees north latitude were over 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.

Elsewhere, February was also much warmer than average (at least 2 degrees Celsius) over much of the United States, central Europe, parts of southwest Asia and the Middle East, northern and southern Africa, northern and central South America, northern Australia and the equatorial eastern and central Pacific, associated with the strong El Niño.

There were some colder-than-average spots in February including the north Atlantic, a stretch from far eastern Siberia into the north-central Pacific, the Southern Ocean including Antarctica, and over northern Hudson Bay, Canada, according to NASA.

The five largest monthly global warm anomalies in NASA's database have all occurred within the past five months, topped by February 2016.

February 2016 continues a string of 372 consecutive months at or warmer than average. The last colder-than-average month in NASA's database was February 1985, and Earth's last colder-than-average January was 40 years ago, in 1976.

Six of the last nine months have either tied or set new records in NASA's database for that month, helping to set the Earth's warmest year on record in 2015.

READ MORE: 2015 Was Earth's Warmest Year On Record

The warm anomaly from December 2015 through February 2016 - northern hemisphere winter - easily outpaced the record warm such period for the globe by 0.38 degrees Celsius, a shellacking in climate statistics, according to NASA. It marked the first time dating to 1880 the December-February period had a warm anomaly greater than 1 degree Celsius.

Climate scientists emphasize that whether a given month is a fraction of a degree warmer or cooler than a previous month isn't as important as the long-term, overall trend.

And that trend of warm anomalies over the past year or so has become disconcerting, not simply due to the record-tying strong El Niño, but also the degree of higher northern latitude warming.

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According to international weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera, new national all-time record highs have been set so far in 2016 in Botswana (43.8 degrees Celsius at Maun), Vanuatu (36.2 degrees Celsius at Lamap Malekula) and the French South Pacific territory of Wallis and Futuna (35.8 degrees Celsius).

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Interestingly, Herrera noted Hong Kong set an all-time record low for the territory, dipping to -5.7 degrees Celsius (just under 22 degrees Fahrenheit) atop Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak overlooking Hong Kong at an elevation of 957 meters (3,140 feet) above sea level.

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#Blizzard2016 aka Winter Storm Jonas slams the east coast
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February 2016: Warmest February on record

A massive winter storm system pummeled the eastern United States in late January 2016, with two low-pressure systems merging into a potent nor’easter that dropped heavy snow from Virginia to New England. By late afternoon on Jan. 23, snowfall totals were approaching records in several states, and hurricane-force winds were battering the coastlines and leading to serious flooding. The storm was expected to continue through the morning of Jan. 24.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of the storm system at 2:15 a.m. EST on Jan. 23. It was composed through the use of the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects faint light signals such as city lights, moonlight, airglow, and auroras. In the image, the clouds are lit from above by the nearly full Moon and from below by the lights of the heavily populated East Coast. The city lights are blurred in places by cloud cover.

(Photo via NASA)

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 23: A woman walks in strong winds and heavy snow fall in Central Park on January 23, 2016 in New York City. A major Nor'easter is hitting much of the East Coast and parts of the South as forecasts warn of up to two feet of snow in some areas. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A man use a skiing on a snow covered street in Manhattan in New York on January 23, 2016. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on January 23, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. US news reports said at least eight people had died by late Friday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A pedestrian walks in the center of a snow-covered residential street in Washington, DC on January 23, 2016. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on January 23, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

January 22, 2016

Scott Kelly ‏(@StationCDRKelly): Massive #snowstorm blanketing #EastCoast clearly visible from @Space_Station! Stay safe! #blizzard2016 #YearInSpace

TOPSHOT - A man lays in a pile of snow in Times Square on January 23, 2016 in New York. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on January 23, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. US news reports said at least eight people had died by late Friday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 23: Waves crash on the beach on January 23, 2016 in Cape May, New Jersey. A major snowstorm is upon the East Coast this weekend with some areas expected to receive over a foot of snow. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Nuns from the Fraternite Notre-Dame in Chicago, Illinois are covered in newly fallen snow as they walk along Constitution Avenue while snow begins to accumulate January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. A major snowstorm is forecasted for the East Coast this weekend with some areas expected to receive up to 1-2 feet of snow. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Snow covers cars parked in Washington on January 23, 2016. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on Saturday, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. US news reports said at least eight people had died by late Friday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday. / AFP / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A man pushing a snow plough during a snowstorm January 22, 2016 in New York. / AFP / FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks on snow covered Thomas Circle in Washington on January 23, 2016. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on Saturday, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. US news reports said at least eight people had died by late Friday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday. / AFP / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: A snowplow cleans up snow on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the U.S. Capitol January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. A winter snowstorm is forecasted for the East Coast this weekend with prediction of up to 30 inches of snow for the DC area. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - The White House is seen during a snowstorm in Washington January 22, 2016. Thousands of flights were cancelled and supermarket shelves were left bare Friday as millions of Americans hunkered down for a winter storm expected to dump historic amounts of snow in the eastern United States. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People cross 15ht Street during a snowstorm in Washington January 22, 2016. Thousands of flights were cancelled and supermarket shelves were left bare Friday as millions of Americans hunkered down for a winter storm expected to dump historic amounts of snow in the eastern United States. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Homeless covers from the snow in Central park on January 23, 2016 in New York. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on Saturday, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. US news reports said at least eight people had died by late Friday from causes related to the monster snowstorm, which is expected to last until early Sunday. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks past a restaurant during a snowstorm January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Thousands of flights were cancelled and supermarket shelves were left bare Friday as millions of Americans hunkered down for a winter storm expected to dump historic amounts of snow in the eastern United States. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 22: Vehicles move along Interstate 40 as an overhead sign indicates 'Winter Weather Warning In Effect' during a winter storm on January 22, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A major snowstorm is forecasted for the East Coast this weekend with some areas getting a possible one to two feet of snow. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
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