The last time America had a February as cold as the one it shivered through this year, the Berlin Wall was still standing, Ronald Reagan's second term had just ended, and Guns N' Roses' debut album was at the top of the charts. According to an National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report released Monday, it was the coldest February since 1989, though only the 19th-coldest since records began in 1895. An Arctic air mass made things especially chilly in parts of the South and Midwest: The NOAA says it was among the 10 coldest Februaries on record in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
The country's biggest states were also a lot colder than usual. In Texas, where blackouts left millions of power and were blamed for dozens of deaths, areas including Austin set new records for the longest number of days with temperatures below freezing. In Alaska, it was the first month since December 1998 where the daily high temperature never budged above freezing. February also set a new record for national snow cover, which has been recorded since 2003, USA Today reports. On Feb. 16, just over 73% of the land mass of the lower 48 states was covered in snow, with snow cover extending from the Mexican border to the Great Lakes. (Read more winter weather stories.)