Warm February temperatures could break daily records in the Palmetto State
While much of the country is experiencing snow storms and ice, above-average temperatures arrived in the Palmetto State this week.
According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, nearly every weather station in South Carolina could possibly match or exceed daily records for average temperature on Thursday. Charleston is forecasted to reach 15 to 19 degrees above average, while Columbus and Greenville-Spartanburg could reach 24 to 25 degrees above average.
Different areas of the state have already reached daily records according to the National Weather Service. NWS Charleston reached a record temperature of 82 degrees Wednesday, tying with Feb. 22 of 1991 and 2018. NWS Columbia also reported getting close to daily records in Columbia on Wednesday, with daily records possibly being broken today. NWS Greenville-Spartanburg is expecting an “exceptionally warm day” Thursday and expects the area to break daily records for warmest low temperatures.
Another very warm day is in the forecast with highs in the lower to mid 80s meaning we could reach or exceed daily record maximum temperatures. Today's records are 82 degrees at Columbia which last occurred in 2018 and 84 degrees at Augusta set last year. #CAEWx #SCWx #GAWx pic.twitter.com/g1dd5PLwLs— NWS Columbia (@NWSColumbia) February 23, 2023
State Climatologist Hope Mizzell said the highest temperature ever recorded in February was on Feb. 28, 1962, when the town of Ridgeland in Jasper County reached 89 degrees. She doesn’t expect the state to reach the all-time record this week.
Severe Weather Liaison Frank Strait said for the average person, there is no reason for concern.
“This is not an extreme heat event,” he said, “it shouldn’t present an issue for most people besides those usually sensitive to heat.”
Strait reminds residents to use sun protection if they want to go outdoors and enjoy the warm weather.
Thursday is likely to be the hottest day this week, but Strait said it’s likely the warm weather could continue for a while.
“We may not see the return to more normal, seasonal temperatures until the beginning of March,” he said.
Pam Knox, Agricultural Climatologist in Extension at the University of Georgia, said these temperatures may be harmful to agriculture in the Southeast if these warm temperatures are followed by a cold snap later in the season.
Above-average temperatures warm up the soil, which is needed to plant crops. This warm soil may incentivize producers to take a calculated risk and start growing crops like corn ahead of schedule. While it may pay off, a future cold snap could harm the crop.
The Southeast receives produce from other regions besides local growers, so while it shouldn’t cause shortages for the average consumer, it’s still a negative for farmers.
For the same reason, Strait encouraged hobby gardeners not to start planting just yet.
Strait emphasized that the winter is not over yet, and cold snaps could still occur later this season. The potential for cold extends all the way into April.