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Preliminary Climate Summary for February 2021

Preliminary Climate Summary for February 2021:

Very cold and dry are the appropriate words for the month of February. Most climate stations report a mean monthly temperature that ranges from 8 to 11 degrees F colder than normal. For the 10-day interval from February 6-10 most places in the state saw a mean temperature that was subzero, ranging from about -3°F at Winona to colder than -20°F in northern locations like Babbitt, Ely, Embarrass, Cotton, Baudette, Tower, Orr, and Warren. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states at least 10 time during the month, including a new statewide record low of -50°F at Ely 25E on February 13. Within the state’s climate network, there were 152 daily low minimum temperature records tied or set, and another 277 daily low maximum temperature records tied or set.

Extreme temperatures for the month ranged from 51°F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) on the 23rd to -50°F near Ely (St Louis County) on the 13th. Over 60 climate stations reported at least one day with a minimum temperature of -30°F or colder, and 22 climate stations reported at least one day with a minimum temperature of -40°F or colder. Despite some warmer than normal temperatures at the beginning and ending of the month, February of 2021 will rank among the 20 coldest in state history.

From a precipitation standpoint the month was drier than normal, with many parts of northern and western Minnesota reporting only a tenth of an inch or less of actual precipitation. Wheaton (Traverse County) reports only a Trace amount which would tie for their driest February in history with 1934 and 1950 (climate records back to 1914). Some southern climate stations reported over half an inch of precipitation. The highest monthly snowfall reports come from southeastern Minnesota in Houston and Fillmore Counties with 10-12 inches snowfall measured. With little further precipitation expected through Sunday, February of 2021 will likely rank among the 7 driest in state history.

Meteorological Philately:

Stamp collecting is one of the world's popular hobbies. Stamps are often printed in recognition of individual achievement, scientific discovery, appreciation for the plant and animal kingdoms, recognition of sporting events and historical events, and many other themes. Stamps have been produced since the British Penny Black was printed in 1840.But did you know that meteorology has been widely celebrated and commemorated in a variety of special stamps? Some stamps were printed in recognition of Benjamin Franklin who came up with the famous quote, "some people are weatherwise and most are otherwise." A stamp from Italy honored Evangelista Torricelli who discovered the principle of the barometer, while a stamp from Norway celebrated Vilhelm Bjerknes who developed the theory of air masses and fronts. Many countries have printed stamps to commemorate hurricanes, typhoons, or other severe historical storms. Some stamps have pictured different types of cloud formations or weather instruments (wind vanes and anemometers). It is estimated that in the past 100 years, approximately nearly 130 countries have issued over 1000 different stamps about weather related topics, meteorological discoveries or weather personalities. We in the profession should be appreciative of the postal services for recognizing our branch of science so abundantly.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The Weather Channel this week featured a climate video about the average onset of spring across the USA……including a look at average first 70 degree day ………it is a hopeful examination of the spring season, which starts in March and runs through May.

BTW, the latest Spring outlook (March-May) from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center favors warmer than normal temperatures across southern Minnesota counties, and wetter than normal conditions across the eastern sections of the state.

This week’s AGU-EOSBulletin features a fascinating article about how climate adaptation work might be overlooking the essential vulnerabilities to climate change that need greater attention. Many internationally funded climate adaptation projects “reinforce, redistribute or create new vulnerability” in developing countries, according to a new review led by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and the University of Oxford. Essentially, the paper argues, people in developing countries are worse off after climate change adaptation interventions are undertaken. This is an interesting read.

MPR listener question:

I heard you say earlier this month that there have been only three Februarys when the average monthly temperature was subzero, the most severe being 1936. Which months historically have brought a statewide monthly temperature that was subzero?


For state data back to 1895 a statewide subzero average temperature has been observed just:

17 times in January (most recently 1994)

3 times in February (most recently 1936, this year it is close to 6.1°F which is quite cold)

1 time in December (1983)

All of these months were also dominated by persistent snow cover.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 26th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 33 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 17 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 64 degrees F in 1896; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1919; lowest daily minimum temperature of -21 degrees F in 1897; highest daily minimum temperature of 41 degrees F in 1998; record precipitation of 0.83 inches in 1873. Record snowfall is 7.0 inches also in 1936.

Average dew point for February 26th is 15°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 46°F in 2000; and the minimum dew point on this date is -22 degrees F in 1950.

All-time state records for February 26th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 73 degrees F at Pleasant Mound (Blue Earth County) in 1896. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1897. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Wannaska (Roseau County) in 1964. Record snowfall is 15.0 inches at Sandy Lake (Aitkin County) in 2001.

Past Weather Features:

It is an oddity in the state climate record that the hottest February 26th in state history was in 1896, and the very next year, 1897 brought the coldest February 26th in state history. In 1896 on this date about a third of the state saw afternoon temperatures reach the 60s F, and most of the rest of the state saw temperatures reach the 50s F, under sunny skies and with southerly winds. In 1897 most Minnesota citizens woke up to temperatures ranging from the minus 20s to minus 40s F. The daytime high temperature at Bemidji only reached -18°F.

Over February 24-26, 2001 a winter storm brought heavy snowfall to many parts of Minnesota. Many areas of the state reported 8-18 inches of snowfall. Portions of Lake and Cook Counties in northeastern Minnesota received over 20 inches.


Warmer than normal on Saturday, but with increasing cloudiness. Chance for rain or snow late in the day and into early Sunday. Cooler on Sunday and Monday, then warming to above normal for Tuesday through Friday next week with several days in the 40s F.

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