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Record warm February is guaranteed

Record warm February is guaranteed:

With only a couple of colder than normal days this month, the persistent above normal temperatures so characteristic of the climate since December 1st (75 percent of all days) will carry on to the end of the month and undoubtedly help set a record for the warmest February in state history, matching the warmest December in state history which occurred just two months ago. On Thursday (Feb 22) temperatures climbed into the 50s F at many locations across Minnesota, and even reached 60°F at Caledonia (Houston County).

Some absurd numbers to contemplate: The average number of days that the daily temperatures climb above freezing (32°F) in the Twin Cities during the winter season (Dec-February) is 31 days. Similarly for International Falls (the Nation’s Icebox) it is 11 days. So far in the winter of 2023-2024 with another week to go in February, MSP has reported 58 days with maximum temperatures above freezing (32°F) this winter (Dec-Feb), while International Falls has reported 42 such days. These are record-setting number of days to be above the freezing mark. It is likely that meteorological winter will end up being 12-13°F warmer than normal on both a statewide basis and in the Twin Cities.

In addition, seasonal snowfall totals are some of the lowest in history for many long term climate stations in Minnesota. Some examples:

Twin Cities: 14.2 inches
Rochester 10.5 inches
Saint Cloud 13.6 inches
Duluth 17.7 inches
International Falls 25.7 inches
Itasca State Park 10 inches

Granted some late season snowfalls may still occur in March and April, but according to the outlook models this appears unlikely.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features a fascinating article about the dynamics of the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) driven by landscape interactions and cloud formation. It is far more complex than previously known, especially with respect to formation of convective cloud systems.

The BBC reported this week that persistent torrential rains have flooded most of Bolivia in South America, filling most reservoirs to capacity. There has been significant death toll due to flooding and landslides, following a record warm period and drought last year.

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office announced this week that the Royal Mail Service is releasing 8 new stamps to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the Met Office in that country. The stamps depict the people, technology, and services provided by the Met Office and will undoubtedly be a popular item for stamp collectors.

Earlier this month the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia released its Annual Assessment of the Climate of 2023, which was the 8th warmest year of record in that country. They also stated that the winter of 2023 was the warmest ever historically. Rainfall was highly variable north to south across the country, with greater amounts in the north. The month of September was the driest ever.

MPR listener question:

The year 2012 we remember as a very hot one throughout the Midwest. We were wondering of 2012 might have been an El Nino year, but there is no indication that it was. So why were the spring and summer of 2012 so hot?


You are correct about 2012, as every month of the year from January through July was warmer than normal, with some downturn in temperature finally coming in August and September. The year actually started in the grip of a modest La Nina episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, but I don’t think that solely explains the hot climate of 2012. Two other factors are noteworthy of that year: Drought was in place early in the year across the southern plains states and the southwestern states of NM and AZ. This drought spread northeast across Nebraska, Iowa and up into Minnesota as the year progressed. The drier landscape heated up more readily from the higher sun angles in spring and summer. Secondly there were many days with strong southwesterly winds blowing from the Sonoran Heat Ridge in the southwester USA that brought warm air masses northeast into the central and upper plains states including Minnesota. In March of 2012 875 maximum temperature records were set within the state climate network and from April to June another 137 daily maximum temperature records were tied or broken in Minnesota.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 23rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 32 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 16 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 23rd:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1958; lowest daily maximum temperature of -8 degrees F in 1889; lowest daily minimum temperature of -25 degrees F in 1889; highest daily minimum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1931; record precipitation of 0.63 inches in 1909. There was a record 6.5 inches of snowfall in 2023.

Average dew point for February 23rd is 15°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 45°F in 2000; and the minimum dew point on this date is -23 degrees F in 1967.

All-time state records for February 23rd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 70 degrees F at Lake Wilson (Murray County) in 2000. The state record low temperature for this date is -43 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County) in 1889. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.35 inches at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1922. The state snowfall record is 25.0 inches also at both Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1922.

Past Weather:

An Arctic air mass brought record-setting low temperatures to many parts of Minnesota on February 23 of 1889. Many areas saw morning lows of -30°F or colder. With over a foot of snow cover, Moorhead reported a morning low of -35°F and an afternoon high of -13°F.

One of the worst ever February winter storms passed over the state from February 21 to February 23 of 1922. It brought rain. Freezing rain, sleet, snow, thunder, and even lightning. Winds gusted 40 mph. Southeastern counties recorded one of the worst ice storms in history which brought down power lines that took days to restore. Many areas reported from 9 to 18 inches of snow, and Detroit Lakes (Becker County) reported 25 inches.

Probably the warmest ever February 23rd was in 2000, when many areas of the state reported afternoon high temperatures in the 50s and 60s F. It was 60°F as far north as Blackduck in Beltrami County.


Sunny, breezy, and warmer than normal over the weekend. Increasing clouds on Monday, still quite warm, but with a chance for rain or snow in the far north. Chance for rain/snow on Tuesday and Wednesday with cooler temperatures. Then warming up towards the end of next week.
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