February could come close to being the second colder-than-normal month in Baltimore in two years, but the meteorological winter is likely to be among the 30 mildest on record for the region when it ends Thursday, according to National Weather Service data.
Through Monday, the average temperature at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport was 1.3 degrees below normal at 34.2 degrees for the month of February. A mild spell expected Wednesday and Thursday is likely to drive up that average, possibly close to the long-term average of 35.5 degrees.
A stretch began in February 2011 of months with average temperatures at or above the long-term norm, a trend that wasn't broken until November. The warmth continued in December and January.
The average temperature for the meteorological winter, which runs Dec. 1 through the end of February, is pacing to be between 38 degrees and 39 degrees. That would likely rank it among the top 30 mildest winters since record-keeping began in Baltimore in 1871.
The winter has seen extremes of 70-degree highs both in December and January, and an 11-degree low in January.
It is also pacing to be one of the least snowy winters on record, though the chance for wintry precipitation typically extends well into March, the first month of meteorological spring.
The 4.8 inches measured so far this season at BWI would rank No. 11 among the least snowy winters on record for Baltimore.
An average of about 2 inches of snow falls each March in Baltimore, but there have been many outliers with a foot or more during the month. One notable example came in March 1942, when 22 inches of snow fell on Palm Sunday.
That storm came after a winter not dissimilar from this season -- from December through February, 4.1 inches of snow had fallen. The average temperature for the 1941-1942 meteorological winter was just shy of 38 degrees.
"The snow, characterized by the Weather Bureau as 'wet and clinging,' tied up vehicular traffic all over the State," The Sun wrote after the storm. "Thousands of vehicles were abandoned by their owner, many of them stuck athwart traffic lanes, preventing movement by other vehicles."
Forecasters expect the current stormy pattern across the country to continue into March, leaving open the possibility of more wintry precipitation before spring weather arrives.