Frigid February? It's 2nd coldest on record in Detroit

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Think February has felt colder than normal?

You're right. The average temperature for Detroit through Thursday morning was 14.5 — making it the second coldest February since records started in 1874, according to the National Weather Service.

The record 12.2 was set in 1875, meteorologist Mike Richter said.

"It's going to be a challenge to reach," he said, "(but) we're going to take a run at it."

Buried under four layers of clothes, DeShawn Broadus, 35, walks through arctic temperatures in Detroit.

The polar conditions that prompted school closures and main breaks across the region in recent weeks was part of a persistent pattern drawing in arctic air, Richter said.

Flint had its coldest February, Richter said, as well as its lowest reading of the month: minus 25, which tied the city's coldest temperature of all time, reached Jan 18, 1976, the weather service said.

In Detroit, February has had nine days when temperatures fell below zero. Only three other Februarys saw more: 1875, with 14, as well as 1936 and 1885, which had 10 each, the weather service said.

To top that, readings at Detroit Metro Airport through Wednesday tied or broke three record lows.

The minus 9 notched Feb. 16 matched readings that day in 1904; three days later, the low of minus 5 beat by a single degree the previous record reached in 1903, 1934 and 1936, weather data show.

When the thermometer plummeted to minus 13 on Feb. 20, it was five degrees colder than the former record for the date set in 1934.

Another record could fall before the month ends.

Saturday might end the month on a frigid note, with the mercury diving to around 2 below zero, Richter said.

For now, he said, February 2015 already is "the fifth coldest month of all-time."