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A Windy Winter

A Windy Winter:

I have previously given some attention to this attribute of our climate this winter, and also heard from a number of MPR listeners about how windy it seems to be. Indeed, there have been a large number of Wind Chill Advisories and Warnings this winter because of the high winds.

Average wind speeds were greater than climatological averages for the months of December and January, and so far there are greater than average for February as well. Many places have reported wind gusts from 40 to 60 mph this winter, and a large number of days when wind gusts exceeded 30 mph.

For the Twin Cities, there have been 6 days so far this month when maximum wind gusts exceeded 30 mph. In January there were 14 such days, and in December 17 such days. Of course, the absolute highest wind gusts on a statewide basis this winter were on December 15th when the highly unusual thunderstorm complex that brought 20 tornadoes to southeastern Minnesota also produced some measured straight-line wind speeds of over 60 mph. In fact, there were numerous reports of wind gusts between 70 and 84 mph that evening. These were record-level straight-line wind speeds for the month of December from a historical perspective.

Don’t know what is in store for the rest of February from the standpoint of winds, but most models project more above normal temperature days than below normal. That said, when we do have those warmer than normal days, expect higher wind speeds from the south. And remember, climatology tells us that April is usually our windiest month.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features an article about monitoring the Indian Ocean and the implications for improving weather forecasts, as well as understanding climate change. Many new measurement systems have been deployed over the past decade.

NOAA this week features a snapshot of the climate of January 2022 from a national perspective. It is interesting to note that the most negative departures from normal temperature (coolest) were reported from northeastern and northern Minnesota. The western Great Lakes area was generally the coolest relative to normal, while the western states were the warmest compared to normal. About 70 percent of the USA landscape was drier than normal for the month of January 2022.

Tropical Cyclone Dovi in the Western South Pacific Ocean is churning away with wind gusts up to 100 mph as it heads towards New Zealand this weekend. It is expected to bring heavy rains and high winds to both islands of that nation by late Saturday and Sunday.

Jonathan Erdman of the Weather Underground gives a summary of the national picture with respect to snowfall this winter across the USA. Snowfall deficiencies are more prevalent than snowfall surplus, except in the northeastern states which have recorded well above normal amounts. In our own state snowfall so far has been above normal in the far northeast (Cook, Lake, and St Louis Counties) where some observers have reported over 70 inches.

MPR listener question:

We live in northeastern Minnesota and are fans of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Race from Duluth to Grand Portage, which was held last week. This year there was ample snow for the race, but in some recent winters, snowfall has been sparse. Can you tell us what the maximum and minimum amounts of snowfall have been for the month of February along the north shore of Lake Superior? Good snowpack and snowy conditions make for a great event.


I cannot give a comprehensive answer to your question since historical snowfall data are not complete for most areas along the north shore of Lake Superior. But I can provide some representative extremes for February with respect to snowfall and snow depth.

Lutsen reported 47.4 inches of snowfall in February of 2001 with snow depths of 25 to 45 inches. Conversely, they reported only 2.8 inches of snowfall in February of 1997, but snow depths were 31-36 inches from previous snowfalls.

Grand Marais reported 49 inches of snowfall in February of 1939 and snow depths ranged from 25-30 inches. Conversely, they reported only a trace of snowfall for February of 1997, but snow depths were 6-12 inches from previous snowfalls.

Grand Portage reported 31 inches of snowfall in February of 2001 and snow depths of 29 to 31 inches. Conversely, they reported only 2.0 inches of snowfall in February of 1997, but snow depths ranged from 21 to 22 inches from previous snowfalls.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 27 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 11th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 57 degrees F in 1882; lowest daily maximum temperature of -15 degrees F in 1899; lowest daily minimum temperature of -31 degrees F in 1899; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1908; record precipitation of 0.28 inches in 1940. Record snowfall is 4.1 inches also in 1979.

Average dew point for February 11th is 7°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1999; and the minimum dew point on this date is -29 degrees F in 1981.

All-time state records for February 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 61 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) in 1977. The state record low temperature for this date is -55 degrees F at Leech Lake (Cass County) in 1899. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.05 inches at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 2013. Record snowfall is 19.0 inches at Rothsay (Wilkin County) in 2013.

.Past Weather Features:

February 11, 1914 brought subzero temperatures to all parts of the state. Twelve northern counties reported low temperatures of -40°F or colder. The high temperature at Hallock only reached -22°F.

The air felt like a touch of Spring on February 11, 1977 when over half of the state enjoyed a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 50s F. Over 50 communities reported record high temperatures that date, and some citizens took their lunch break outside.

A large, slow-moving winter storm brought heavy snow, and even blizzard conditions to Minnesota over February 9-11, 2013. Blizzard warnings were issued for parts of western and southern Minnesota and portions of Interstate 94, as well as Highways 10 and 210 were closed for a time. In western counties 16 to 21 inches of snowfall was commonly reported.


Cold weekend coming up, with temperatures much below normal. There will be a chance for light snow showers both Saturday night and Sunday night. A warming trend will start on Monday bringing temperatures closer to normal, and then above normal by mid-week. Generally a dry period is in store.
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