Snow Struggles, but Severe Weather Flourishes in February 2023

March 8, 2023 // Article by: Shawn McGarrity


The Chicagoland area faired warmer than average for the month of February, with overall average temperatures of 33.9°F (5.1°F warmer than average). Precipitation varied for the month, but ended wetter-than-average with 3.83" of precipitation (1.86" above normal), though snowfall fell short, with 3.7" being measured Chicago O'Hare--only half of the 7.0" typically seen in February. 

A cold start to the month saw high temperatures drop from the upper 20s down to 11°F on the 3rd (the coldest day of the month). Despite the colder airmass in place, conditions remainded dry through the first full week. Temperatures warmed back up to the 40s by the 4th and up to the 50s by the 7th. Rain showers worked in on the 8th with steadier rainfall developing on the 9th, the latter of which produced a decent 0.91" at O'Hare Airport. 

Drier conditions followed on the back side of the system with temperatures cooling briefly to the 40s on the 10th before warming back to the 50s. Spring-like temperatures held around into the middle of the month with some minor disturbances on the 14th and 15th bringing a couple tenths of an inch of rain each day. On the 15th, winds were quite strong, with gusts reaching up to 55 mph at O'Hare. 

Winter made a comeback on the 16th as a system brought colder temperatures and snow that largely favored areas to the north and west of Chicago. Even so, O'Hare managed to see 2" of fresh snow and Rockford 3.6" (both of which proved to be the snowiest day of the month). Colder temperatures then stuck around in the days that followed the snow event, with highs reaching only the mid 20s on the 17th. 

Snowfall totals in the wider region for February 16th. Courtesy of NWS Chicago.

Temperatures turned more variable into the third week of the month, with highs varying from the 40s to 50s at times with generally dry conditions. Widespread rain returned on the 22nd, producing 1.2" of rain--the wettest day of February. Colder air then returned on the 24th, with a band of steady snow passing through the region bringing 1 - 2" of fresh snowfall. 

Things warmed back up to close out the month as highs reached the 50s once more. A severe weather outbreak on the 27th produced one brief EF-0 tornado near Naperville, IL. Dry and warm conditions were in place to close out the month. 

Brief EF-0 tornado reported near Naperville, IL during the February 27th severe event. Courtesy of NWS Chicago.


An overall warmer-than-average trend continued for February as the average temperature for the month was 40.2°F (7.7°F warmer than normal). Precipitation was near normal, measuring 2.55" (0.12" above normal). Snow, on the other hand, was hard to come by for the Indianapolis area. While a few flurries managed to bring trace amounts, no measurable snow was reported the entire month. The last time Indianapolis had no measurable snow in the month of February was back in 1949. For reference, Indianapolis typically sees 6" of snow in February. 

The first week of the month was dry with temperatures starting off cold with highs in the 20s. Seasonable temperatures didn't hold on long, with temperatures warming to the upper 50s by the 7th. A system that spanned the 8th and 9th brought a return of rain, with the latter of the two days being the wettest day of the month with 0.91" of rainfall. Mild temperatures accompanied the system, with highs on the 9th reaching 60°F. 

A brief cooldown in wake of the system brought temperatures down to the 40s before warmer air returned for the middle of February as highs returned to the 50s. Some rain showers returned at times for the 14th, 15th, and 16th, each bringing a couple tenths of an inch. Some severe weather was reported on the 16th, though most of this held to the southeast of the Indianapolis area. Even so, colder air on the back end of these storms allows for some spotty flurries. Temperatures only reached 33°F on the 17th, however warmer air returned soon after. 

This warming trend persisted through the 22nd, which saw highs steadily warm each day before topping out at 71°F on the 22nd; breaking the previous record for that day of 70° that was set in 1922. Numerous showers and scattered storms developed on the 22nd. After one more mild day in the 60s on the 23rd, another brief cooldown allowed for a few passing flurries the night of the 24th; the final wintry "event" the region saw in February. 

February ended mild as highs again crept up to the 50s and 60s. Severe storms on the 27th produces two brief EF-1 tornadoes just east of Indianapolis in Hancock County. Drier, unseasonably warm conditions held for the 28th as the month closed out. 


Similar to other areas in the Midwest in February, temperatures were warmer than normal. Columbus and Cincinnati saw overall average temperatues of 41.1° and 42.4°F respectively, or 8.6° and 7.7°F above normal. Precipitation fell short of normal for both cities too, with 1.62" (0.79" below normal) for Columbus and 2.75" (0.42" below normal) for Cincinnati. Snowfall was lackluster for both, with no measurable snow for either city which typically see 7.6" and 6.7" in Columbus and Cincinnati respectively for the month of February. 

Things starts off seasonable and dry to start off the month with highs in the mid 30s. Other than a stray flurry in Columbus, the region remained dry throughout the first week. Temperatures warmed steadily during this time, reaching the low 50s by the 5th. Rain returned on the 7th with showers bringing minimal rainfall through the 9th. The warmth held, with highs reaching 67° and 72°F in Cincinnati and Columbus respectively on the 9th. 

A brief period of cooler air arrived on the 10th, bringing daytime highs down to the 40s, as well as drier conditions. Temperatures warmed back to the 50s by the 12th with settled weather continuing until showers return on the 14th. Highs reached another apex on the 15th with both cities in the low 70s. Steadier, widespread rain and storms built into the region on the 16th bringing decent rainfall. Columbus measured 0.40" of rain whereas Cincinnati saw 1.87". Cincinnati broke the daily rainfall for that date, the previous record having been 1.53" set way back in 1873. 

Another break in the unseasonable warmth occurred on the 18th (with cooldown to the 40s) before warming back up in the subsequent days. A line of showers moved through on the 20th with another round of rain / storms on the 22nd. Both cities saw their warmest temperatures on the 22nd/23rd, with Cincinnati and Columbus both reporting 73°F. 

The month closed out with one brief cooldown on the 24th (down to the 40s) before returning to the 50s and later 60s. A severe weather outbreak on the 27th brought several tornado reports in the state, with one of them, an EF-1, being confirmed near Middletown north of Cincinnati. Columbus measured their wettest day of the month as well, measuring 0.73". 

EF-1 tornado near Middletown, OH on February 27th. Courtesy of NWS Wilmington.