Skip to main content

February starts warm and foggy

February starts warm and foggy

Following the trend of previous months, February started very warm this week with temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees F warmer than average. Some observers in western Minnesota reported new record highs for February 1st including: 50 F at Morris; 51 F at Benson; 52 F at Ortonville and St James; 55 F at Marshall; and 56 F at Minnesota. On February 2nd afternoon temperatures again reached the 40s and 50s F in some places, as Rochester reported a new record high of 48 degrees F. It was the warmest first two days of February since 1931.

In addition, along river valleys and in eastern and northern sections of the state fog was dense and very persistent the first three days of the month. Almost continuous fog was reported from some southern counties, along with some freezing fog. In the north, fog, overcast, and occasional snow flurries prevailed over the first three days of the month.

High Dew points Too

With the warm temperatures, melting snow, and fog prevailing this week near record to record-setting dewpoint values were seen at a number of locations. Dew points ranged from 35-40 degrees F during the day, more typical of April and May. The condensation produced by high dewpoints made many surfaces wet and slippery, which combined with the fog contributed to hundreds of traffic accidents around the state.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

The NOAA-National Weather Service in Alaska reports one of the coldest Januarys in history there. Nome and Bettles, Alaska reported their coldest mean January temperature in history, while Fairbanks was 5th coldest. During the month some observers reported temperatures in the -60s to -70s F. Noatak, Alaska was still reporting -60 degrees F on February 2nd. You can read more here.

Heavy snows with blizzard conditions were reported from parts of Colorado this week. The National Weather Service reported snowfall rates as much as 2 inches per hour. Portions of Interstates 70 and 25 were closed to traffic for a time, and a weather observer west of Denver (near Pinecliff) reported 18 inches of new snow by Friday morning.

Heavy rains continue to fall over southern Madagascar which has seen little relief in two weeks. Following heavy rain from Cyclone Funso last week, tropical thunderstorms have continued much of this week. The rains washed out river banks, flooding hundreds of homes and displacing over 1000 people. More on Cyclone Funso can be found here.

Last week NASA renamed one of its polar orbiting satellites in honor of the late Professor Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin. Born in Eveleth, MN in 1915, Dr. Suomi is called the "father of satellite meteorology" having developed many of the instruments and tools used today during his tenure on the faculty of the Space Science and Engineering Center at UW-Madison, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. 

MPR listener question

Which Minnesota locations got the most snow in January, and where has the most seasonal snowfall occurred in the state so far?

Answer: Northern observers have reported the most snow. In January, Orr and Kabetogama reported over 16 inches, while Isabella in the highlands of the Lake Superior north shore reported 17 inches. For the entire snow season so far Isabella has reported 42 inches, Kabetogama nearly 38 inches, and Gunflint Lake and International Falls just over 32 inches.

Almanac for February 3rd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 21 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 4 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 3rd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1934; lowest daily maximum temperature of -13 degrees F in 1989; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1991; record precipitation of 0.42 inches in 1943; record snowfall is a 3.4 inches in 1936 and 1976.

Average dew point for February 3rd is 3 degree F, with a maximum of 32 degrees F in 1924 and a minimum of -37 degrees F in 1923.

All-time state records for February 3rd

Scanning the state climatic data base: the all-time high for this date is 65 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) in 1991. The all-time record low for this date is a very cold -52 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1996 and at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1936. The all-time record precipitation amount for this date is 1.50 inches at Red Lake in 2000. State record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Caledonia, Harmony, La Crescent, and Zumbro Falls in 1983.

Past Weather Features:

During the first few days of February 1886 many observers reported morning lows of -30 degrees F or colder. Duluth reported a very snowy February, as half of the days in the month brought snowfall totally over 20 inches.

February of 1934 was one of the warmest and driest in state history. Many observers reported daytime highs in the 40s on the 3rd, and some reported temperatures in the 40s and 50s F for the remainder of the month. Places like Milan, Alexandria, Waseca, Morris, Winnebago, and Tracy saw their driest February of all time with just a trace of precipitation for the month.

On February 3, 1936 the state was in the grip of an extended arctic cold wave. Many communities reported low temperatures of -40 degrees F older. At Roseau the morning low was -48 degrees F and the afternoon high only made it to -8 degrees F. The Roseau observer did not report a temperature above zero F until February 8th.

Early February of 1983 brought significant snowfall to many southern and central communities. Over February 2-3 observers reported 6 to 12 inches of snowfall, which caused school delays and closed some roads. Caledonia ended up getting over 23 inches of snowfall that month.

1991 brought one of the warmest Februarys in state history. Over the first ten days, temperatures averaged 20-30 degrees above average at many Minnesota locations. Many days brought 40s, 50s, and even 60 degrees F.

On February 3, 1996 Tower, MN saw the thermometer rise 41 degrees F, from a low of -60 degrees F to a high of -19 degrees F. By February 8th the daytime high was 48 degrees F, a rise of 108 degrees.


Weekend will start out cloudy and mild, but progressively get sunnier. Temperatures will remain mild, with a good deal of sun on Sunday. Cooler by Tuesday next week with temperatures falling back closer to normal. Chance of snow towards the end of next week, but generally dry across the state until then.
Print Friendly and PDF