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A Cold Climate Footprint is Established for February

 A Cold Climate Footprint is Established for February:

Following the 4th warmest November through January period in state history (on a statewidc basis, temperatures averaged over 6.5°F above normal during the period), persistent cold temperatures have dominated Minnesota since February 6th. Lowest temperatures reported in the state this week have included:

-26°F at Warren (Marshall County) on February 6

-37°F at Mission Creek (Pine County) on February 7

-43°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on February 8

-42°F at Cotton and Kabetogama (St Louis County) on February 9

-37°F at Babbitt (St Louis County) on February 10

-46°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on February 11

-45°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on February 12th

The temperatures on February 7, 8,9, 11, and 12 were the coldest readings in the 48 contiguous states this week, the first time this winter that Minnesota has reported the nation’ coldest temperatures so frequently.

In addition, many climate stations have reported subzero daytime high temperatures as well including a reading of -18°F at Kabetogama on February 9th which was a record cold maximum temperature value.

Since February 6th the statewide mean temperature has been close to -8°F and is expected to moderate little before next Tuesday. As such this is likely to mark one of the 5 coldest 10-day February periods ever experienced in Minnesota climate history. Using the Twin Cities climate data back to 1873, here are the top six 10-day February periods back to 1873.

Top six coldest 10-day periods during the month of February in the Twin Cities:

1. February 3-12, 1899, mean daily temperature -13.7°F

2. February 3-2, 1875, mean daily temperature -11.8F

3. February 1-10, 1895, mean daily temperature -10.2°F

4. February 10-19, 1936, mean daily temperature -9.2°F

5. *February 6-15, 2021, mean daily temperature -5.5°F (projected)

6. February 1-10, 1917, mean daily temperature -3.1°F

Persistent snow cover dominated in all these years as well. During all of these historical cold spells Wind Chill values occasionally plummeted to range from -30 degrees F to -50 degrees F.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Speaking of cold weather, the BBC Weather Centre reported this week that on Thursday morning the temperature in Braemar, Scotland fell to -9.4 degrees F, the coldest reading in the United Kingdom since 1995. Scottish Water said it was dealing with double the normal number of burst pipes for this time of year as temperatures plunged. Hundreds of burst pipes have been reported in the past week.

Tropical Cyclone Faraji was roaming around the Southern Indian Ocean this week producing wave heights of 30-35 feet and winds up to 90 mph. It was not expected to be a threat to any islands in that region.

The Weather Channel reported that an ice storm caused a massive vehicle pileup on the I35 Interstate near Fort Worth, TX on Thursday. The pileup involved up to 100 vehicles and caused 36 people to be taken to hospitals. Further south there was another pileup of 26 vehicles in a chain of accidents along State Highway 45.

A recent article in Geophysical Research Letters documents a shift in the onset of California’s traditional rainy season by a month. Formerly the rainy season would start in November but shifts in global climate have manifested the onset to be delayed more and more towards December since the 1960s. This has prolonged the wildfire season, as well as seasonal drought.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin shares an article about the increased frequency of simultaneous drought-heat wave episodes. Researchers from Clemson University recently analyzed global temperature and precipitation data from the past 4 decades. They noted increasing occurrence and length of combined drought–heat wave (CDHW) events, especially over the past 20 years.

MPR listener question:

Minnesota has some steep, hilly terrain in parts of the state, though it does not have high mountains, and we do obviously get snow, though not in the amounts seen in the mountains in the western part of the country. I’ve wondered if there are any records of avalanches in our state’s history.


I can find no documentation of an avalanche, though it goes without saying that in the bluff terrain of northeastern and southeastern Minnesota heavy snow cover can sometimes slip and fall in large quantities from the edges of bluffs. Such was the case in on March 6, 1857 in the Rollingstone Creek Valley west of Minnesota City in the bluff area of Winona County. The winter of 1856-1857 had brought plenty of cold and snow to southeastern Minnesota. The snow pack was quite deep with massive wedges of white hanging over the edges of the bluffs above the valley. A group of teamster hauling supplies camped in the valley on their way to Stockton, MN. One of their members named Cook was below the bluff when a mass of snow gave way from above and buried him. According to the Winona Republican newspaper of March 11, 1857 this was the first known death in the Minnesota Territory due to an avalanche of snow.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 12th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 12 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 12th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of -5 degrees F in 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature of -30 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1984; record precipitation of 0.42 inches in 1984. Record snowfall is 5.5 inches also in 2019.

Average dew point for February 12th is 11°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 37°F in 1984; and the minimum dew point on this date is -28 degrees F in 1967.

All-time state records for February 12th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 63 degrees F at Windom (Lyon County) in 2005. The state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1914. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.86 inches at Brainerd (Crow Wing County) in 1922. Record snowfall is 17.0 inches at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1965.

Past Weather Features:

The coldest February 12th was in 1914 when all parts of the state saw subzero temperatures prevail. Sixteen Minnesota climate stations reported a morning low of -40°F or colder. The daytime high temperature at New Ulm only reached -7°F.

The warmest February 12th statewide was in 1990 when over 40 climate stations reported afternoon high temperatures in the 50s and 60s F. Luverne, Worthington, New Ulm, St Peter and St James all saw the mercury rise into the 60s F. Some workers took their lunch break outside.

A large, slow-moving winter storm brought rain, sleet, and snow to most of the state over February 10-12, 2013. Many areas reported 8 to 16 inches of snow. Rothsay (Wilkin County) in western Minnesota reported over 20 inches. The National Weather Service had to issue blizzard warnings for some southern and western counties. Portions of Interstate 94 and Highway 210 were closed for a time.


Continued very cold with persistent subzero nighttime temperatures over the weekend and into next week. A chance for light snowfall on Saturday night. Some moderation in daytime temperatures will start on Wednesday of next week with daytime highs reaching the teens above zero in many areas. Then warmer yet towards next weekend.

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