Buresh Blog: Winter nights not *as* cold... Daytona 500 weather... Feb. night skies

Jacksonville, FL — Temperature analysis by “Climate Matters” shows the coldest nights of winter have generally been on the rise over the last 50 years or so across the U.S.:

Climate Central looked at the annual lowest temperatures at 244 locations across the U.S and found that 98% have recorded a rise of at least 1°F in their yearly coldest temperature since 1970.

The average trend across these cities is a 7°F rise, and 42 cities have recorded an increase of 10°F or more. And the warming trend is happening in cities across the country: Boise, Idaho (16°F), Albany, N.Y. (14°F), Minneapolis (12°F), Nashville, Tenn. (14°F), and Anchorage, Alaska (12°F).

Our local numbers would certainly back that up.... over about the last 10 years at least. We have not had at least the avg. number of freezes - 15 - since the very cold winter 2010-11. The avg. date of the last freeze of the season for most of Duval Co. is mid Feb., so we’ve almost “broken the back” of winter locally.

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The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Valentine’s Day this year. The weather pattern looks “unsettled” to say the least. Past race day weather history:

Feb. - early March night skies - Sky & Telescope:

Feb. 18 (dusk): High in the southwest, the waxing crescent Moon and Mars hang about 3½° apart.

Feb. 19 (dusk): The first-quarter Moon is prettily placed between the Hyades and the Pleiades, with Mars to their right.

Feb. 23 (evening): The waxing gibbous Moon is 4° from Pollux in Gemini.

Feb. 24 (evening): The Moon, now in Cancer, is only a couple of degrees from the Beehive Cluster (M44).

Feb. 25 (dawn): Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn form a wide triangle rising in the east-southeast before sunrise.

Feb. 26 (evening): The almost-full Moon rises in Leo, trailing Regulus by about 7°.

Mar. 2 (dawn): The waning gibbous Moon is less than 5° above Spica.

Mar. 2 (evening): Mars sits about 2° from the Pleiades cluster for the next three evenings.

Mar. 5 (dawn): Look low above the east-southeastern horizon before sunrise to spot Jupiter and Mercury just 1/3° apart. Saturn gleams to their upper right.

Mar. 5 (dawn): Turn south to see the last-quarter Moon about 5° from the red supergiant star Antares.

Moon Phases

Last Quarter – February 4, 12:37 p.m. EST

New Moon – February 11, 2:06 p.m. EST

First Quarter – February 19, 1:47 p.m. EST

Full Moon – February 27, 3:17 a.m. EST (Full Snow Moon)