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February finishes with 48.7 inches of snow in Pittsburgh region

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Monday, March 1, 2010

History was made around 11 p.m. Thursday -- well after Valley residents started wishing that February was, well, history.

It was almost three weeks since more than 21 inches of snow pummeled the Valley and much of the Northeast.

The storm of Feb. 5-6 was the springboard event that pushed February 2010 to the pinnacle of weather history as the snowiest month in the Pittsburgh region's history. Thursday's 1.1 inches brought February's total to 41.1 inches, passing January 1978's total of 40.2 inches.

Subsequent snows pushed the month's total to 48.7 inches. The average for February is 8.5 inches; the month's record had been 25.3.

Next up is the record for snowiest winter season on record: 82 inches, set in 1950-51.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that this season's total is 76.9 inches, making it the third snowiest on record. No. 2 is 78.5 inches, set in the winter of 1913-14.

The preliminary forecast for March makes reaching No. 1 look doubtful.

"What we're looking at right now is a 30 percent chance for below-normal temperatures and a 40 percent chance for below-normal precipitation," said Lee Hendricks, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Moon. That means cooler and drier weather.

Pittsburgh averages about 40 inches of snow during the winter. Hendricks said this year's total resulted from a rare weather pattern.

"The weather pattern has remained stagnant for an abnormally long time," he said. "Normally, you will stay in a pattern for a few weeks. We've been in this pattern for well over a month now."

"The last time that we had a persistent time of having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground was 1978, from Jan. 8 through March 12. For those 64 days, there was at least 1 inch of snow on the ground.

"That tells you how kind of out of kilter we are with this month."

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