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Retrospective: February warm and dry, then cold and wet

Posted March 1, 2011, 6:39 PM.

February began with bouts of Santa Ana winds and warmer than normal temperatures, then flipped into a cold, wet period that covered the final two weeks of the month.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center had published an outlook calling for a cooler than normal, drier than normal month. The outlook ended up being half right.

The results were mixed, but February ended up being cooler than normal in most inland valley communities.

For rainfall, February was either wetter than normal (in De Luz, Menifee, Murrieta, Riverside and Temecula), or just under normal (Fallbrook, Hemet, and Lake Elsinore).

Season-to-date rain totals were above entire season averages throughout the region. A season is July 1st through June 30th. De Luz (27.80"), Fallbrook (21.00"), Lake Elsinore (20.71") and Temecula (20.10") all were above 20 inches for the season-to-date.

The month started out dry, however, with a high pressure ridge in the Pacific (courtesy of La Nina) funneling all of the winter storms to the north of the region. The ridge had been mostly in place since the beginning of the year.

Actual rainfall and high temperature for February against normal, by community:

Location Actual Precip. Normal Precip. Actual High Normal High
De Luz 5.00"  3.14"  62°F  64°F 
Fallbrook 3.77"  3.99"  64°F  66°F 
Hemet 3.01"  3.10"  62°F  64°F 
Lake Elsinore 3.67"  3.86"  65°F  68°F 
Menifee 2.86"  2.70"  65°F  66°F 
Murrieta 4.15"  2.66"  65°F  67°F 
Riverside 2.05"  1.52"  66°F  69°F 
Temecula 4.24"  3.62"  65°F  68°F 

Note: normals are used for communities with five or more years of data.

Southern California Snow on February 27th, 2011

Snow Extent on February 27, 2011 (courtesy National Weather Service). Note Lake Elsinore and Diamond Valley Lake in the upper left.

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