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New Climate Outlook

New Climate Outlook

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued new seasonal climate outlooks this week. For the period from March through May they favor somewhat above normal temperatures, especially in eastern MN, and above normal precipitation across the Great Lakes area, including Minnesota. You can read more about these outlooks and see image products here.

The CPC also sees good chances for some continued alleviation of drought across our state through the end of May. The hydrologic features (lake levels and stream flows) will benefit from above normal precipitation whether it comes as rain or snow. The soil will not benefit much until it thaws out later in the spring. Right now soil frost depths still range from 20-40 inches deep in many areas and will take some time to thaw out. On the NWS-Grand Forks Office web site there is a good discussion of the implications of the spring climate outlook for flood threats on the Red River between North Dakota and Minnesota.

Portions of the Red River have a higher level of spring snow melt flood risk as a result of the high water content of the snow pack and the deep soil frost.

Blizzard on February 18-19

Yet another strong winter storm crossed the state earlier this week on February 18-19 (Mon-Tue) bring strong winds, snow, and reduced visibility. A number of blizzard warnings were issued for western and southern regions of the state and some highways were closed for a time due to reduced visibility. Windchill advisories were also issued as WC index values ranged from -25 to -35 degrees F in many areas of the state. By early Tuesday winds peaked over 40 mph in several places and in the northeast there were reports of 50 and 60 mph wind gusts. Some observers reported new record snowfall amounts, including 4.0 inches at Thief River Falls, 6.0 inches at Warroad, 6.4 inches at International Falls, 7.5 inches at Littlefork, and 9.5 inches at Baudette. For many this is the snowiest February since 2001 and proving to be the snowiest month of winter.

You can read more about this storm on our web site.

Big Midwest snow on February 21-22

A massive storm crossed the Midwest on Thursday and Friday (Feb 21-22) bringing rain, sleet, snow, and thundersnow to many states. Parts of Nebraska reported 6-9 inches of snow and poor visibility, while some roads in Kansas were shut down with 8 to 14 inches of snowfall. Parts of Iowa received 5 to 8 inches of new snow with a high water content. The area of Minnesota most affected by this storm was the southeast, where 4 to 6 inch amounts of snowfall were common. Some southern Minnesota observers reported record-setting amounts for February 22nd including over 5 inches at Worthington and Spring Valley, 6 inches at Wells and St James (tied record), 6.5 inches at Amboy, 6.6 inches at Lanesboro, 7 inches at Albert Lea, and 7.5 inches at Fairmont.

An Invitation

Minnpost, the online newspaper will be hosting a public discussion "Climate Change: Right Here, Right Now!" at Hell's Kitchen (80 S. 9th St) in downtown Minneapolis next Monday (Feb 25) evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Discussing the topic will be Mark Seeley from the University of Minnesota, J. Drake Hamilton from Fresh Energy, and Lee Frelich from the University of Minnesota. The conversation will be moderated by Ron Meadow, Earth Journal writer for Minnpost. If you are interested in getting tickets and attending, please go to their web site.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Very heavy rains brought flooding to many parts of Greece on Friday (Feb 22), including areas in and around Athens. Some roads were closed and vehicles abandoned on flooded roads. It was reported that 2 to 3 inches of rainfall came in just a few hours, shutting down the Athens Tram System, and flooding many basements. Some news reports said it was the worst storm to hit Athens since 1961.

Tropical Cyclone Haruna was churning in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and Africa this week. It was producing wind gusts up to 110 mph and sea waves up to 25 feet. Over the weekend it is expected to track across the southern part of Madagascar bringing very heavy rains and strong winds. It will continue to track southeast in the Southern Indian Ocean and weaken by Sunday and Monday.

A paper published in the current International Journal of Biometeorology documents the effects of climate change on wheat phenology in northern China. The data show that warmer seasonal temperatures have produced more rapid growth in the wheat crop and earlier maturation. This has some implications for variety selection.

NOAA's National Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center reports that over western portions of Minnesota the snow pack water content varies from 2 to 5 inches as of February 20, 2013. These water contents are relatively high as the moisture content of January and February snows has been more than normal. The higher water contents in the southern end of the Red River Valley are of concern for spring flood forecasting. You can follow the week to week assessments of snow cover and snow water content using their web site.

MPR listener question

I heard you tell Cathy last week that my hometown of Rothsay (Wilkin County) was reporting its snowiest February in history this year (26 inches). Surely other places must also be reporting near record February snowfall. Are there any others? My wife thinks her hometown of Wheaton must be close.

Answer: Indeed there are several observers that are close to breaking their record for snowiest February. Your wife's hometown of Wheaton as already tied the record set in 1952 with 22.2 inches. Elsewhere it appears that Breckenridge has set a new record for February with 23.4 inches, and Pelican Rapids as well with 22.4 inches. Many other western communities are close to their records but need a few more inches, including Browns Valley, Ottertail, and Benson.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 22nd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 22nd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 57 degrees F in 1930; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1889; lowest daily minimum temperature of -22 F in 1873; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 1930; and record precipitation of 1.13 inches in 1922; Record snowfall is 8.8 inches in 1913.

Average dew point for February 22nd is 14 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of -21 degrees F in 1965.

All-time state records for February 22nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) and Windom (Cottonwood County) in 2000. The state record low temperature for this date is -46 degrees F at Bemidji (Beltrami County) in 1939. State record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Willmar (Kandiyohi County) in 1922; and the state record snowfall for this date is 13.1 inches at Chatfield (Fillmore County) in 1940.

Past Weather Features:

February 20-23, 1873 brought a Cold Wave to Minnesota with many areas reporting continuous readings below 0 F. In St Paul, three consecutive mornings were -20 degrees F or colder, and it was considerably colder up north. Previous months had brought 40-50 inches of snowfall, and little of it had melted.

February 21-23, 1914 brought another strong Cold Wave to the state plummeted temperatures to -30 degrees F or colder at over 20 locations. Hallock (Kittson County) could warm no higher than -18 degrees F on February 22nd. However, by the 27th many communities saw temperatures climb into the 40s and 50s F.

By far the wettest February in state history occurred in 1922. A strong winter storm over February 22-23 brought a mixture of rain, sleet, ice, snow, and even thunderstorms to the state. over a month's worth of precipitation fell in many areas of the state including 3.23 inches at Willmar, 2.12 inches at Winona, 2.00 inches at Chatfield, and 1.70 inches at Milaca. Many areas received over a foot of snow. Milaca reported 22 inches and Detroit Lakes received 25 inches. The storm knocked our power, closed roads, and damaged a number of trees.

February 22, 1982 brought a hint of spring to southern Minnesota as at least a dozen cities reported afternoon high temperatures of 50 degrees F or greater. The warm-up was short-lived as two days later a winter storm brought snowfall to the state.

The warmest February 22nd in state history occurred in 2000 when over 50 Minnesota communities saw the thermometer soar to 50 degrees F or higher on a bright and sunny afternoon. Many citizens took afternoon lunch outside that day.

Word of the Week: nib-nebs

This is a Scottish term for Jack Frost, or cold personified. It derives from nib meaning to poke or point, and neb meaning kiss. One possible connotation is that when kissed by Jack Frost you are poked by his cold nose. Nib-nebs has certainly been present this winter, and especially this month (Feb) which is averaging colder than normal across the state.


Near seasonal normal temperatures over the weekend with lingering snow in the northeast. Increasing cloudiness Sunday night with a chance for snow, especially in southern and central counties on Monday and Tuesday, then a bit warmer towards the end of next week.
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