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Weather service: February sets record for cold at Long Island MacArthur Airport

A seagull makes tracks in the bed of

A seagull makes tracks in the bed of snow atop a completely frozen Northport Harbor in Northport on Feb. 18, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

February did it.

With an average monthly temperature of 21.6 degrees, the month now ranks as the coldest February -- and the coldest month overall -- at Long Island MacArthur Airport, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

That's based on preliminary data from the National Weather Service, which has maintained Long Island's official records at the airport since 1984.

The previous record for coldest February was 27.1 degrees, set in 2007. The coldest month overall had been January 2004, which registered 23.5 degrees.

Still, Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, where data has been gathered since 1949, has seen months that were colder -- those of February 1979, which recorded a 20.3 degree average temperature for the month, as well as January 1977 and January 1981, with 19.5 and 19.6 degrees, respectively.

Two of the weather service's other monitoring sites -- Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Kennedy Airport, both with data going back to 1948 -- also beat their previous records this year for coldest Februarys. All these new rankings are preliminary, the weather service said, based on certification by the National Climatic Data Center.

Last month's average high temperature at the airport was 30.6 degrees, that's 9.7 degrees below normal. The average low of 12.5 degrees was 12.7 degrees below the norm.

Some years the sense of extreme cold can be a perception, "but when we compare the numbers, it isn't as impressive," said Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University. "This year it really has been cold."

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