February is climatologically the driest month of the year in North Dakota with the state averaging just 0.44 inches of precipitation. Taking data from both cooperative and CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network) observers, the average precipitation in North Dakota in February 2016 was 0.42 inches, which is very close to that 30 year average. Very few areas actually finished near normal as much of state was either noticeably above or below average. (Figure 1) There were no widespread heavy rain or snow storms, but a narrow band of 2 to 5 inches of snow fell in northwestern North Dakota on February 14. Plus, the cooperative observer in Bottineau had five days with 2 inches of snow or more leading to a monthly total of 14.1 inches which is well above the average of 5.5 inches for that location.
The month of February has not been kind in North Dakotans in recent years if you like above average temperatures. Ten of the past thirteen Februaries had recorded below normal temperatures. But this year brought well above normal temperatures to the entire state (Figure 2). The average temperature for the North Dakota NDAWN (North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network) stations in February was 23.7° which is 8.9° above normal for those locations. With the exception of a few days in the first one-half of the month the 29 days of February were mostly well above average. The warmest day was on February 27, when the NDAWN station in Fort Yates recorded a maximum of 72°. Although the Mandan NDAWN station reached 68° as did the Bismarck cooperative site (Weather Service Office), the Bismarck airport sensor recorded a maximum temperature of 73° that day which would be a new state record for the month.