What another month was February! Almost everything was in it: of snow, to ice, to inconvenience, until plenty of spring weather. In this article, we'll take you back.

From very cold to very soft

We have had a truly special February month! The first days were mild with double-digit temperatures and it often rained. Around 3 February, however, a sharp change to cold winter weather became visible in the weather maps from the weekend of 6/7 February. At first there was a lot of uncertainty in it, but soon an old-fashioned winter raid seemed to be taking off. On 7 February it came to a snowstorm; we speak of this when the combination of snowfall and average wind force 8 occurs simultaneously. Elsewhere there was snowdrift. In the southeast and east even fell locally 20 to 30 inches of snow; in that part of the Netherlands the largest amount since the “Christmas snow” from December 2010.

What followed was a week with severe frost and a regional cold snap in large parts of the interior. From 14 February, however, changed course completely. The wind turned in a warm southerly direction, causing temperatures to skyrocket. Initially it was no more 10 to 13 degrees, but from the 20th on, really soft air reached our country in which we could reach maximum levels well above the 15 degrees. In De Bilt, a series of six soft days was even made (>15 degrees) listed in a row, which is an absolute record for a winter season in the Netherlands! This "warm’ period has ensured that the previous cold has been completely brushed out of the averages; February 2021 even ends about half a degree too soft in the central Netherlands…

Dry and sunny

Lente in februari! Foto: Marry Nieuwhoff

Spring in February! Photo: Marry Nieuwhoff

February was dry and sunny. Here too, however, the differences were large, because even though there was little rainfall, the problems caused by winter rainfall were sometimes enormous. Especially during the snowfall of 7 in 8 February and the freezing rain 15 February was a major nuisance in some places. After that, hardly any precipitation fell in the Netherlands, only in the evening of 25 February it came to such a local level in Brabant and Limburg 10 mm rain.

The total rainfall amounted to approx 47 mm against 60 mm normally in a February month. Remarkably, most of the precipitation fell in the southeast: to spacious 80 mm in parts of Limburg and they can use that very well in view of the low groundwater levels!

In addition to dry, February was also sunny. Ultimately, this month we arrive at ~ 120 hours of sunshine against over 90 hours normally. Two periods jumped head and shoulders above the last month in terms of sunshine: the regional cold snap with ~ 50 hours of sunshine in one week and of course the mild spring days in between 20 in 24 February with a total of approx 40 hours of sunshine. The first week was pretty bleak.

Skating fun and spring heat…

The most striking thing of course was the enormous skating fun that the Netherlands had during the cold period. Cheerful people were everywhere on the ice, although it was sometimes busy on small lakes and skating rinks. But on the big lakes such as Loosdrecht, Ankeveen and the Veluwe lake had in principle enough space for people and that resulted in impressive images. Images as we have not seen them for many years!


Skating fun during sunrise, photo by Ella Groot

What also stood out were the special ice sculptures and enormous ice floes along the great lakes and the Wadden Sea! We certainly do not often experience such circumstances in the Netherlands; the last time was February 2012 and less often March 2018. Drifting ice was also observed; a beautiful phenomenon ending the regional cold snap. After the thaw set in, ice floes "came off’ to lie in the water and the wind pushed them over each other, as it were. In a period after heavy frost, so-called icebergs can be used’ being shaped. Eventually, icebergs were even formed along the Afsluitdijk and various dikes in North Holland and Friesland 2 to 4 meters high! A special phenomenon in the Netherlands…

Meteorological spring starts on Monday

Next Monday, on 1 March, the meteorological spring starts in the Netherlands. The weather picture remains beautiful with plenty of room for the sun, although we have lost the high temperatures of the past period for a while. Incidentally, this is not very bad news for nature. Many crops already start to sprout after the unprecedented heat in February and when we still have to deal with heavy frost later in March or April (which certainly could), then a lot will be able to freeze to pieces. We will keep you informed!