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February on pace to set record for all-time hottest February in Buffalo

Two years after February 2015 set the mark for the coldest month in Buffalo's history, this year's version of February will be a record-breaker of its own – on the other end of the thermometer.

February 2017 featured a record-breaking day in the 70s last Friday, two other days in the 60s and five more days of at least 50 degrees or better. It appears it will go into the history books as the city's warmest February in 147 years of record-keeping.

Heading into Tuesday, February had an average monthly temperature of 34.4 degrees.

February 2017 took the lead heading into its final day for all-time warmest February in Buffalo. (xmACIS2)

The mercury is expected to climb into the upper 50s Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

That should leave February 2017 with an average temperature close to 35 degrees.

That's even warmer than Buffalo's average temperature in March, which is 34 degrees.

"There's definitely a good shot at it," said Jim Mitchell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "The last seven or eight days have really pushed us over the top."

Temperatures ran an astounding 20 degrees or more above normal between Feb. 22 and 24, the National Weather Service's data for the month shows. (NWS Buffalo)

February's warmth also means that for the third time in 15 months, a Buffalo month will have grabbed the top place in the weather record book.

August 2016 and December 2015 also hold the top marks for their respective months. Six others – including May 2015, September 2015, November 2015, March 2016, September 2016 and November 2016 – have finished in the city's Top 10 warmest temperature for their respective months, according to weather service data.

What's more, the more than eight degrees above average monthly temperature in February 2017 also makes 17 months out of the last 18 with above-normal temperatures in Buffalo.

 "It can be tied somewhat to El Niño," Mitchell said.

A strong El Niño pattern set up in late 2015, keeping last winter on the warm side.

Although it broke up last year, a dry summer kept things on the warmer end around the Buffalo Niagara region, Mitchell said.

Then, a persistent jet stream that's kept the west wet and snowy this winter has helped carry Pacific air across the United States, keeping much of the cold polar air locked far away to the north.

That means the Buffalo Niagara region has enjoyed more weather sourced from the milder Pacific instead of colder Canadian systems.

Temperature isn't the only superlative that February 2017 will be known by.

Only 5 inches of snow fell the entire month. That's good for fifth place on the all-time least snowiest February in the city's history dating back to 1870.

The lack of snowfall also meant a lack of snow pack.

Data show only four days in both January and February combined this year has there been more than 2 inches of snow on the ground at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Only the years 1952 and 1953 had less.

There's been 2 inches or less of snow on the ground for more than 90 percent of January and February in Buffalo. That's third on the all-time list for least snow pack at the Buffalo airport. (xmACIS2)

Forecasters say it's hard to know whether the trend will continue.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center calls for March to have equal chances for above normal or below normal conditions.

The roller-coaster pattern of warmer then colder will likely persist over the next several weeks.

One thing's certain after the coldest February ever two years ago, and the warmest one this year, forecasters are getting a lot of questions about 2018.

"People are asking you, 'what's that mean for next year?' " Mitchell said.

His answer?

"Nothing. It means absolutely nothing."

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