Skip to main content

Record-setting warm spell

Record-setting warm spell:

Over February 17-22 the Minnesota landscape was widely dominated by warm temperatures. Many record value high daily temperatures, and warm overnight low temperatures were reported from climate observers. In fact hundreds of records were tied or broken over this period. A preliminary county suggest about 250 new daily high temperature and warm minimum temperature records were set over these 6 days.

At MSP and St Cloud five of the six days produced new daily maximum temperatures. The reading of 63°F at MSP on the 17th is the 2nd highest temperature ever measured during the month of February in the Twin Cities (topped only by 64°F on Feb 26, 1896). At International Falls on the 17th a maximum temperature reading of 58°F is the highest ever temperature reported in February from the Nation's Ice Box. And finally the overnight low temperature reading of 52°F at Marshall, MN on February 20th is the warmest low temperature for February ever measured in the state.

Two new preliminary statewide maximum temperature records were reported during this warm spell: 67°F at Redwood Falls on the 17th is a new statewide record for the date; and 66°F at Amboy reported on the 22nd is a new statewide record high for the date as well.

In addition, some new high record dew point values were reported during this spell of warmth, including a reading of 52°F at MSP on Monday, February 20th which also tied for the highest ever dew point measured in the Twin Cities during the month of February (also occurred on February 25, 2000).

Another noteworthy feature in Minnesota's climate was what happened in Voyageurs National Park. Like the warm spell in mid-January last month, the warm spell this month forced the closure of the ice roads on Rainy Lake and Kabetogama. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time these ice roads have been closed in back to back winter months.

Return to winter across southern Minnesota:

A strong winter storm brought widespread heavy snow to portions of south-central and southeastern Minnesota over February 23-24 (Thursday-Friday). Initial forecasts had placed the Twin Cities Metro Area in the bullseye for snowfall, but a combination of factors caused the storm to deviated south of the Metro Area. Heavy snowfall rates combined with wind gusts over 30 mph made for difficult travel conditions and produced dozens of school closures in southern Minnesota cities. Snowfall totals in many areas ranged from 7 to 14 inches.

Some reported new daily record snowfalls included:

February 24th:

11.4” at Theilman

11.0” at Lake City

9.5” at Zumbrota

9.4” at Dodge Center

9.0” at Winnebago

8.5” at Grand Meadow

8.0” at Faribault

7.0” at Albert Lea and Waseca

For many communities these also represent the highest single day snowfalls of the 2016-2017winter season so far.

Topic: Nominations for MNCAP Awards

The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) will be recognizing outstanding climate adaptation work in Minnesota with awards to be presented on May 8, 2017, as part of the National Adaptation Forum. MCAP is joining the National Adaptation Forum in offering a conference that will present a range of practitioners who have experience with climate smart strategies for adapting to our changing climate.. The conference titled Action today for a better tomorrow, will be held at the St. Paul River Centre, May 8-11, 2017.

Awards will honor individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses that have provided exceptional leadership in education, research, policies, and practices to improve resilience and develop, advance, or implement climate adaptation strategies. Anyone may submit a nomination, which is very simple.

The award nomination deadline is March 1, 2017, and nomination details are available on the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA scientists (via NOAA News) this week report that the winter expansion of Arctic sea ice may be one of the smallest in history this winter. There have actually been a few period of thaw in the Arctic this winter, that have slowed down ice formation.

The BBC reports that winter storm Doris, strongest of the season so far, battered the United Kingdom on Thursday with high winds and heavy rains. Winds gusted to over 80 mph with a few inches of snow in the highlands of Wales. Doris intensified heading into Europe delivering strong winds and snow to portions of Denmark and Sweden. Many power outages were reported.

The National Park Service reports that the Cherry Blossoms may come much earlier than normal this year along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Many tourists flock there each March for this famous annual event. The winter has been so mild that the cherry trees are already sprouting buds and may be in blossom by mid March, over two weeks earlier than normal.

A recent report about climate change and possible consequences associated with the delivery of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus into the open ocean from river systems in the USA is reported this week in the Earth and Space Science News.

MPR listener question:

This February warm up has been very impressive. I think we have lost our soil frost here at Willmar. How do you think this month will rank historically in terms of monthly average temperature?


On a statewide basis the average temperature this month is running about 10 degrees F above normal. Even with a moderation towards normal, or slightly colder than normal following the storm this Friday, we will likely end up about 8-9 degrees F warmer than normal, ranking among the 7 or 8 warmest months of February in state history back to 1895. The most recent year that February was this warm was in 2002.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 32 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 16 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 24th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1880; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1967; lowest daily minimum temperature is -20 degrees F in 1967; highest daily minimum temperature of 42 degrees F in 2000; record precipitation of 1.90 inches in 1930; and a record snowfall of 4.8 inches also in 2007.

Average dew point for February 24th is 16°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 45°F in 2000; and the minimum dew point on this date is -34°F in 1950.

All-time state records for February 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 67 degrees F at Pipestone (Pipestone County) in 1958. The state record low temperature for this date is -46 degrees F at Red Lake Falls (Red Lake County) in 1955. State record precipitation for this date is 2.10 inches at Tower (St Louis County) in 1964; and record snowfall is 19.0 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1868.

Past Weather Features:

Arctic cold gripped the state on February 24, 1955. Most places in northern Minnesota reported morning lows in the minus 30s and minus 40s F. Many communities never saw the thermometer rise about zero F during the day.

Remarkably warm weather visited the state on February 24, 1958. Most observers in southern Minnesota reported daytime highs in the 50s and 60s F. It was 56°F as far north as Detroit Lakes (Becker County). Little snow was on the ground.

A series of storms brought rain, sleet, and snow to the state over February 23-25, 2001. Many climate observers reported over 12 inches, and in northeastern areas along the Lake Superior highlands up to 24 inches of snowfall occurred.


Most sunny to start the weekend with temperatures close to seasonal normals. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday and Monday, with warmer than normal temperatures and a chance for showers by Monday and Tuesday. Some areas could get significant snowfall on Tuesday. Then, some cooler weather by Wednesday and Thursday next week.
Print Friendly and PDF