Over 3,000 daily record cold temperatures
— both minimum and maximum recordings — were set from February 12 to 17 at observation locations in the US with over 75 years of data. Of these, 79 were all-time cold records, meaning that location had never been that cold at any time during the year since observations have been kept.
Look no further than Europe, where even some of its climatologically coldest cities soared to uncharted territory when it comes to winter warmth.
On February 22, the city Hamburg, Germany, experienced temperatures one would expect in mid-June. Climbing to a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius
), making for not only the warmest February temperature on record, but by far the warmest winter temperature ever observed, besting the previous record set just one day earlier at 66 degrees Fahrenheit (18.7 degrees Celsius).
This heat wave of sorts was far from isolated across the region. National record warmth was observed at numerous locations across Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Slovenia. On February 23, as many as 14 monthly record temperatures fell across the Czech Republic.
On February 24, in the wine-growing hills of eastern France, the community of Lons-le-Saunier soared more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit above seasonal averages to 69 degrees Fahrenheit (20.8 degrees Celsius
) — becoming the warmest temperature observed in any winter month.
Around the same time, more than 5,000 miles to the east, the city of Beijing was experiencing temperatures one would expect in the month of May.
On February 20 and 21, the mercury in Beijing climbed to dizzying heights, not only setting a record for the warmest temperature ever observed in any winter month, but doing so by an incredible margin.
Highs on February 20 reached just shy of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), enough to top the list of the warmest temperature ever recorded in the winter season. However, that record lasted for only one day as February 22 pushed the mercury even higher topping out at a balmy 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.6 degrees Celsius).
North and South Korea recorded their hottest February day
on February 22 as well.
Not far away in Japan, the warmth was also the talk of the town. An incredible 109 cities
reported February record highs over the same period.
While the extent and severity of the US cold snap in February was remarkable and likely the most extreme in the southern US in decades — the fact that much of the rest of the world saw much higher than normal temperatures should come as no surprise.
As globally-averaged temperature increases as a result of human-caused climate change, record warm temperatures have been outpacing record cold temperatures by more than 2-1 in recent decades.
Though extreme cold does still occur, it does not happen with the same regularity as it did in past decades — while extreme heat is increasing in both severity and frequency.