Some Snow, But Mild Overall in February 2023, even a Tornado!

March 7, 2023 // Article by: Steven Weinstein

February started off by providing some long awaited snow to much of the I-95 corridor, followed by another arctic blast which brought record breaking cold to many in the Northeast. While snow did fall, it was again a mild month overall, with below normal snowfall across much of the footprint. Also prominent was a severe weather event late month that proved quite uncharacteristic for February.

An overnight system into the 1st gave many along the I-95 corridor including cities such as New York City and Philadelphia, their first measurable snowfall of the year, with a coating - 0.5" across most of these locations. This was quickly followed up by a wintry mix into the morning of the 2nd across the Southeastern portions of Virginia, which gave areas in and around Richmond their first snowfall of the year. Next, was a decaying snow squall along an arctic cold front during the night of the 2nd, which produced some windblown dustings for most in the Northeast. Additionally, very strong winds resulted along and behind this frontal passage, particularly in New England, where there were many reports of downed trees and power lines. However, a few wind reports were also notable down in Maryland where a person was injured after a tree fell onto a home. A bitterly cold airmass followed for the 3rd and 4th, before temperatures quickly moderated into the 5th.  Although short-lived, this cold blast was record breaking, with lows on the 4th plummeting into the teens to the single digits below zero across many locations. This, combined with the gusty winds led to wind chills in the single digits to teens below zero across the Mid-Atlantic, and brutally cold wind chills in the -30s and -40s across New England. High pressure then settled in behind this system before an evening and overnight system on the 7th brought some mixed sleet / graupel showers, and a bit of freezing rain to New England. Perhaps even more impactful were the clearing skies behind this activity, which resulted in widespread black ice into the morning of the 8th across New England and Northern New Jersey.

Tweet from NWS Baltimore-Washington showing snowfall that occurred during the early morning of February 1st, 2023.

Some record low temperatures that were broken during the morning of February 4th, 2023. Source: NWS Boston

The next weather maker came in the form of a coastal disturbance on the 12th, which produced 1-2"+ of rainfall falling across portions of Maryland and Virginia. However, as we progressed through the second week of February and into the middle part of the month, a largely quiet weather pattern persisted with daily record highs in the 60s to around 70 on the 15th and 16th. Then, after some rain shower activity on the 16th and 17th, a potent cold front moved across the Northeast on the 17th, ushering in a cooler and seasonable airmass along with windy conditions. Consequently, this led to scattered wind damage across the Mid-Atlantic, with downed trees and power lines. A changeover to some wet snow also occurred on the backside of this system, which dropped some minor accumulations across Southeastern MA. A similar event then occurred on the 20th with daytime rain showers changing over to some wet snow overnight into the morning of the 21st, which led to minor snowfall amounts of a coating up to 1" across parts of Northeastern PA, the Hudson Valley, and parts of CT and MA. The daytime of the 21st also had enough ingredients in place for a surprise severe weather event with damaging wind and hail reports occurring across Northeast PA and Central NJ. Perhaps most shocking was a supercell thunderstorm, which tracked across Central NJ during the late afternoon, spawning a brief but strong EF-2 tornado northeast of Trenton, with winds of up to 115 mph. Thankfully no one was injured, though numerous trees were toppled and homes damaged. Astoundingly, it was only the 5th tornado to strike the state of New Jersey in the month of February since 1950!

Image from NWS Mt Holly Twitter showing the track of an EF-2 tornado which occurred on February 21st, 2023.

The next system for the Mid-Atlantic and New England then came in the form of a mixed event along a warm front which produced a mix of snow, sleet, and rain. While the snow / sleet accumulations were rather minor for most, further north across MA and NH, plowable snowfall accumulations of 2-6" fell. Activity then transitioned to freezing rain overnight into the morning of the 23rd, with 0.1" up to 0.25" of icy glaze across portions of MA, CT, the Hudson Valley, and the Berkshires. Otherwise, an active weather pattern then closed out the last week of February with two wintry systems. The first was a quick-moving clipper system on the 25th that produced a coating - 1" of snow across much of New England, with locally 1-2". Then, the next system was a more potent inland tracking low impacting New England, Northern NJ, Long Island, and Northeast PA the 27th into the 28th. This event provided accumulating snow, and was for some, the first true winter storm of the season. Plowable to signficant amounts of 2-6" occurred across these areas, with locally 7"+.  Elsewhere, for those along and south of the I-95 corridor this was a mainly rain event, though some sleet did mix in. 

Overall, high and low temperatures for February 2023 ran 4 - 8 degrees above normal across most Northeast locations. Precipitation wise, much of New England ran 1 - 2" below their normal monthly precipitation, though values further south across the Mid-Atlantic ran closer to normal.