Freaky February: A wild, weird month for weather, from heat and cold to snow and rain

It's the shortest month of the year, but February 2019 had more than its share of weird and wild weather, with records set across the nation for heat, cold, rain and snow.

In Downtown Los Angeles, the temperature never reached 70 degrees the entire month – the first time that's happened in 132 years of record-keeping, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The entire season there has been dreary: “This has been one of the colder, wetter winters I’ve experienced,” wrote Jeremy Herbst, a meteorologist who has lived in Los Angeles for more than 15 years, according to the Capital Weather Gang.

In the North Central United States, no stranger to winter cold, February 2019 was especially brutal. Miles City, Montana, and Rapid City, South Dakota, shivered through their coldest February since record-keeping began. Rapid City had 20 days with subzero temperatures, the Weather Channel reported.

One Montana newspaper described it as a "memorable – or more aptly, miserable – February."

Nationally, thanks to the bitter cold in the Northern and Western states, the February average U.S. temperature was about 3.5 degrees below average, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue.

Snow, and lots of it, was the story in the Sierra Nevada. While the Sierra is notorious for incredible snow totals, February 2019 was especially snowy: The Sugar Bowl ski resort near the Donner Summit picked up a record 22 feet of snow last month, its largest February snow total on record. For the entire season, the resort has picked up almost 42 feet.

The resort called it "the type of season that dreams are made of!"

In the Midwest, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, endured its snowiest month on record, with 53.7 inches. Many other cities shoveled out from their snowiest February ever, including Minneapolis and Duluth in Minnesota, Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska.

Wisconsin schoolkids have missed several days of school due to the snow. Stevens Point, Wisconsin, schools spokeswoman Sarah O’Donnell told the Wisconsin Radio Network that with seven missed days so far, "we’re getting into some unprecedented territory.”

In the West, Seattle had its snowiest February on record. Snow was also reported in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, neither of which is typically known for much in the way of snow.

"Seeing sleet right now in Canoga Park!" the Twitter user "Dex" exclaimed during L.A.'s sleet-and-snowstorm on Feb. 21. "I thought I left this behind in Maine, I think it followed me!"

More: March roars in like a lion: Millions to endure coast-to-coast snow, then 'punishing' blast of record cold

The South saw precipitation of the wet, not white, variety. Nashville and Knoxville both slogged through their rainiest Februarys on record. Tupelo, Mississippi, and Huntsville, Alabama, also set records.

The rain caused disastrous flooding in Tennessee.

"There were no areas of Knoxville that weren't affected," Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay said.

Some good news: The wet pattern has nearly knocked drought out of the picture across the nation. As of Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, only about 11 percent of the lower 48 states was in a drought, the lowest percentage since the summer of 2017. And only a tiny 2 percent of California was in a drought, the lowest amount there since 2011.

California finally appears to have emerged from one of its worst droughts on record, the five-year dry spell of 2012 to 2017.

Wild swings from drought and fire to rain and flooding are projected to become more common in California as the world warms.

Researchers at UCLA last year said the frequency of weather whiplash events – in which the state transitions suddenly from very dry to very wet conditions – "will double in southern California by the end of the century."

Though Florida is known for warmth, February was downright hot. Both Key West and Gainesville had their hottest February on record. Vero Beach (89 degrees) and Naples (90) both set records for their warmest February day on record.

Record to near-record heat in far south Florida will continue through Monday, the weather service said, before a cooling trend at midweek.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Freaky February: A wild, weird month for weather, from heat and cold to snow and rain