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February Climate Summary

February Climate Summary:

Average monthly temperatures for February around the state were mixed. Some areas, especially in the north reported slightly cooler than normal mean monthly temperatures, many stations were close to normal, and some southern stations were slightly warmer than normal for the month. Monthly extremes of temperature ranged from 54°F at Red Lake Falls (Red Lake County) on February 14th to -39°F at Kabetogama (St Louis County) on February 4th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states 5 times during the month.

Except for northwestern counties which were drier than normal (many reporting less than half of an inch of precipitation for the month), most of the state saw well above normal precipitation for February, in many cases twice to three times normal. The statewide average precipitation of 1.40 inches marks the 7th wettest month of February in history. Wettest areas of the state were in central and southern counties. Stillwater, Hastings, and Red Wing observers reported over 3 inches of precipitation for the month. The heaviest precipitation (mostly rain) occurred over Valentine’s Day when 61 climate stations reported a new daily record amount, including 1.80 inches at Hastings Dam.

Snowfall too was abundant and above normal in most places but northwestern counties. Many areas of the state reported 12 to 18 inches of snow, while portions of Steele, Lyon, Wabasha, Stearns, Dakota, and Lake Counties reported over 20 inches of snowfall for the month. Within the state climate station network over 50 new daily record snowfalls were observed mostly on the 22nd and 23rd of the month. By the end of the month many parts of the state were reporting snow depths over 18 inches.

Some climate stations reported at least 12 days with wind gusts over 30 mph and there were a number of blizzard warnings issued by the National Weather Service during the month. In addition, many climate stations reported only 6 or less sunny days.

Meteorological Winter of 2022-2023 (Dec-Feb)

Though the average temperatures for meteorological winter across the state were generally unremarkable, typically a degree or two either side of normal, the recently concluded meteorological winter was the 2nd wettest in state history on a statewide basis with average precipitation across the state of 4.40 inches, roughly twice normal. Wettest areas were generally in the eastern sections of the state. A partial list of those climate stations reporting a record wet meteorological winter:
Rochester 6.57 inches
La Crescent 7.83 inches
Waseca 6.97 inches
Red Wing 6.47 inches
Redwood Falls 7.36 inches
Faribault 6.81 inches
Hastings Dam 7.15 inches

Much of this precipitation came in winter rains rather than melted snowfalls. Some climate stations reported 40 to 60 inches of snowfall for December through February, falling just short of record-setting levels in some cases. The snow-water equivalent estimated in the snow pack across the state ranges from 2 to 5 inches, plenty of water to runoff or infiltrate into the soils depending on how fast the Spring thaw occurs.

More climate details on the recent meteorological winter can be found at the DNR-State Climatology Office web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The last week of February brought record snowfalls to many parts of California. Some of the amounts are staggering:
88.4 inches at Tahoma
49 inches at Mount Shasta
68.5 inches at Lee Vining
57 inches at Portola
52 inches at Truckee 

The Washington Post reported that much of the California snow pack is now at twice normal levels, which should bring some relief from the drought conditions.

Two Tropical Cyclones were brewing in the South Pacific Ocean north of New Zealand. Cyclones Kevin and Judy were generating winds over 100 mph and sea waves over 35 feet, but both were expected to remain out to sea and not threaten New Zealand according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

There is an interesting article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science this week that describes how cloudiness and the intensity of storms heavily influence the albedo (reflectivity) of Earth as seen from space. The greater cloudiness and intensity of storms in the ocean-dominated Southern Hemisphere helps to make that part of the Earth more visible from space, and roughly equal in albedo to the land-dominated Northern Hemisphere.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features an interesting article about dendrochronology findings based on the study of old timbers salvaged from buildings in New York City. Many of the older buildings used lumber from Colonial aged forests along the eastern states. Some of the lumber used was from trees that go back to the 16th Century. Studies of the growth rings in the timbers revealed a severe drought in 1580.

MPR listener question:

With over 70 inches of snowfall in the Twin Cities so far, we were wondering about how often March delivers 20 inches or more of snowfall. We are hoping we might break 90 inches for the snow season putting us in the top three snowiest historically!


Over the last 137 years of climate records the Twin Cities have received 20 or more inches of snowfall in the month of March 10 times, about a 7 percent frequency. Usually this occurs because of 1 or 2 major snow storms during the month. The March snowfall record is 40 inches back in 1951. The current “normal” or average March snowfall is 8.2 inches, and the average for April is 3.5 inches. So there is a good chance we will end up with 80 to 85 inches of seasonal snowfall.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 3rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 19 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 3rd:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 65 degrees F in 1905; lowest daily maximum temperature of 6 degrees F in 1873; lowest daily minimum temperature of -13 degrees F in 1873; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 degrees F in 1983; record precipitation of 1.19 inches in 1970. Record snowfall is 12.6 inches in 1985.

Average dew point for March 3rd is 16°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 52°F in 1983; and the minimum dew point on this date is -20 degrees F in 2002.

All-time state records for March 3rd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 71 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1905. The state record low temperature for this date is -44 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2014. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.06 inches at Benson (Swift County) in 1985. Record snowfall is 18.7 inches also at Benson (Swift County) in 1985.

Past Weather:

March 3rd of 1905 was the warmest in state history with most Minnesota communities reporting afternoon high temperatures in the 50s and 60s F. Climate stations in Murray, Faribault, Big Stone, Nicollet, and Chippewa Counties reported a temperature of 70°F.

A major winter storm crossed the state over March 3-4 of 1985 leaving a wide swath of heavy snow, especially over central and northern Minnesota. Many climate stations reported 12 to 20 inches of snowfall. Brainerd reported two feet of snow. Naturally it was early in the week of the boys state high school hockey tournament.

March 3, 2014 was dominated by near-record setting cold temperatures as the state was blanketed by subzero temperature readings. Many citizens woke up to temperatures of -30°F or colder. It was only -24°F in Fillmore County. The high temperature at Embarrass that day was -12°F.


Chances for rain and snow showers over the weekend in southern Minnesota with temperatures close to normal. Cooler with a chance for snow on Monday, then cooler than normal for much of next week, with slight chances for snow.

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