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February Climate Summary

Good Riddance to February:

Suffice to say February was a memorable month. It was the snowiest February in history for many cities in our region, as well as very cold. On a statewide basis, February of 2019 will be the 2nd wettest in history (trailing only 1922 which had a lot of rain), and tied for 11th coldest in history with 1910.

Some of the communities with long-term climate records that reported their snowiest ever month of February included:
Austin 32.5”
Worthington 35.9”
Minnesota City 45.7”
Grand Meadow 35.2”
Faribault 38.4”
Waseca 30.3”
Winnebago 32.4”
Rushford 38.0”
Theilman 45.5”
Zumbrota 39.0”
Wabasha 41.6”
Marshall 37.9”
Redwood Falls 35.8”
Tract 35.0”
MSP 39.0” (also 4th snowiest month in history)
Owatonna 52.5” (a new statewide record for the month of February)
Rochester 40.0”
St Cloud 27.6”
Duluth 36.4”
Two Harbors 7NW 40.6”
Kabatogama 34.2”
New Ulm 37.3”
Eau Claire, WI 53.7”

During the month 152 daily snowfall records were tied or broken within the Minnesota climate observation network.

These enormous snowfall totals have pushed many seasonal snowfall totals beyond 70 inches and many cities are now reporting above normal snowfall totals since last October. Four stations along the north shore of Lake Superior have seasonal snowfall totals greater than 90 inches. At Rochester the seasonal total snowfall is 73.8” ranking as the 5th highest seasonal snowfall all-time there, while at Tracy (Lyon County) the season total is 73.5” also ranking as the 5th highest seasonal total all-time. And we still have the months of March and April to go.

In addition many climate stations reported near record or record amounts of precipitation (liquid equivalent) for the month, ranging from 3 to 4 inches. During February 84 daily precipitation records were set or broken within the Minnesota climate observation network.

From a temperature standpoint, the average February temperature values with Minnesota’s climate network ranged from 8 to 12 degrees F colder than normal. Extremes for the month were 53°F at Wells (Faribault County) on the 3rd to -56°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on the 1st. Minnesota reported the nation’s coldest temperature 6 times during the month. Further, 19 daily low minimum temperature records were tied or broken within the climate observation network, while 61low daily maximum temperature records were tied or set.

The strongest winds of the month occurred with the passage of a deep low pressure system across the state over February 22-24. Blizzard conditions prevailed during the storm across a wide swath of the state with many reports of winds over 40 mph, causing zero visibility. Over 20 climate stations reported peak winds of over 50 mph. The Minnesota State Climatology Office has more to say about this.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Thanks to the excessive precipitation across Minnesota during February NOAA has released an initial spring snowmelt flood outlook showing moderate risk throughout most areas of the state. Many portions of the snowpack on the landscape contain 3-4 inches of water, while soil frost depth ranges from 2-4 feet. The precipitation that materializes across the region during the month of March may either mitigate the flood threat or amplify it.

The Bureau of Meteorologyin Australia released an analysis this week showing that country had its hottest summer of record this year. The excessive heat contributed to bushfires, blackouts and a rise in hospital admissions. Wildlife also suffered, with reports of mass deaths of wild horses, native bats and fish. "The real standout was just how widespread and prolonged each heatwave was - almost everywhere was affected," climatologist Blair Trewin told the BBC.

NOAA’s Tom Di Liberto writes an interesting synopsis of western USA weather during the month of February. In the span of a week in mid-February 2019, record-breaking snow buried Seattle, a strong storm known as a “Kona Low” pummeled the Hawaiian Islands, and a fire hose of moisture known as an “atmospheric river” soaked California.

Greg Spoden, former Minnesota State Climatologist pointed out this recent discussion from the NOAA-National Weather Service: “Arctic air still looks to invade the region over the weekend.
Temperatures are forecast to be 25-35 degrees below normal on Sunday and Monday. This means we could break some temperature records, especially in the category of record cold highs. Also, we will likely see a Wind Chill Advisory on Monday (and possibly Sunday too). March Wind Chill Advisories are rather rare, and have only been issued three times since 2006 (March 11, 2009, March 1, 2014, and March 3, 2015)……..And for those who've had their fill of snow, good news. The forecast looks dry from Sunday through Wednesday.”

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center was monitoring Cyclone Pola in the South Pacific Ocean this week as if formed south of Tonga. As of Friday it was producing 85-90 mph winds and 25 foot seas.

MPR listener question:

Now that we have set the record in the Twin Cities for most snowfall in February (39”), wondering what the record highest snowfall values are for other months.


Indeed, here are the record values for the other months along with the year recorded:
September 1.7” 1942
October 8.2” 1991
November 46.9” 1991
December 33.6” 2010
January 46.4” 1982
March 40.0” 1951
April 26.1” 2018
May 3.0” 1892, 1935, 1946

Twin Cities Almanac for March 1st:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 34 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 18 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 1st:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of 0 degree F in 1962; lowest daily minimum temperature of -32 degrees F in 1962; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 degrees F in 2004; record precipitation of 1.62 inches in 1965. Record snowfall is 9.0 inches also in 2007.

Average dew point for March 1st is 14°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 43°F in 2004; and the minimum dew point on this date is -34°F in 1962.

All-time state records for March 1st:

The state record high temperature for this date is 76 degrees F at Ashby (Grant County) in 1907. The state record low temperature for this date is -47 degrees F at Bigfork (Itasca County) in 1962. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Jordan (Scott County) in 2007. Record snowfall for this date is 18.8 inches at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1965.

Past Weather Features:

By far the coldest March 1st in state history was in 1962. With widespread deep snow cover already in place Arctic High Pressure ushered in record setting low temperatures ranging from minus 20 to minus 30 degrees F in southern counties to as cold as -47 degrees F up north. The daytime high never rose above -14 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County).

A large winter storm brought heavy snows to the state over March 1-3, 1965. Many areas of the state received 10-20 inches of snowfall, and over two feet of snow was measured at Collegeville and Bird Island. It was the beginning of a very snowy month of March.

March came “in like a lamb” in 1992, with widespread afternoon readings in the 50s and 60s F under bright, sunny skies. At Milan (Chippewa County) the temperature reached 70 degrees and people took lunch outside.


It will be very cold for the first weekend of March (not much of a surprise) with a chance for a few flurries early on Saturday. Daytime temperatures on Sunday and Monday may approach all-time record cold values. Generally a cold and dry weather pattern will prevail for the balance of next week, with temperatures 15 to 25 degrees F colder than normal.

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