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Remarkably Warm Start to February

Remarkably Warm Start to February:

The record-setting warm December-January is being punctuated with an exclamation mark during the first 8 days of February which are averaging 25.2°F above normal on a statewide basis. In fact, these are the warmest first 8 days of February in state history, surpassing 1991 and 2005.

Over 40 climate stations have reported multiple days of 50° F or higher maximum temperatures so far this month, including northern locations such as Baudette, Tower, and Itasca State Park. Within the statewide climate observing network over 120 new daily high maximum temperatures have been set and over 140 new warm daily minimum temperature records have been set during the first 8 days of the month. Many overnight low temperatures remained above freezing this week, even as far north as International Falls where the low temperature was 36°F on February 8th. This prolonged the thawing cycle for soils and lakes, as ice thickness declined to unsafe levels in many areas, and soils completely thawed out.

The relative absence of soil frost and snow cover over 70 percent of the state landscape is very rare for this time of year. In fact, the warmer than normal soil temperatures will make it difficult for snowfall to stick around over the second half of February even if air temperatures are cold enough to produce some snowfall.

Citizens have been tapping their maple tress for early sap flow, and also noticing early bud formation on many trees and shrubs. My wife and I have notice many birds cleaning up in the bird bath as well.

Outlook guidance suggests that temperatures will slowly drop closer to normal for the balance of the month, but no Arctic Outbreak, or even prolonged spell of colder than normal temperatures is seen.

125th Anniversary of the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899:

Today is the anniversary of two arctic cold outbreaks which produced some rather striking effects on the mighty Mississippi River. On this date in 1835 and again in 1899 the river was frozen deeply at Ft Snelling, allowing for foot and sleigh traffic. Low temperatures in Minnesota ranged from the -30s F to the -50s F. The Mississippi River was also frozen enough for skating and sledding as far south as St Louis, and ice floes were observed entering the Gulf of Mexico out of New Orleans. Climate measurements were rare in 1835, but in 1899 the Great Arctic Outbreak was well documented by the Weather Service. On the morning of February 9 of 1899 while many climate stations in Minnesota were reporting temperatures in the minus 40s to minus 50s F, parts of Louisiana recorded their all-time coldest temperatures with 7 degrees F at New Orleans and -4 degrees F at Shreveport. The 1899 cold wave struck the Gulf and eastern seaboard states with great ferocity. Parts of Florida received 3.5 inches of snow and other record lows occurred including:

-6 degrees F at Atlanta 10 degrees F at Jacksonville
-2 degrees F at Tallahassee -15 degrees F in Washington, D.C.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Record-setting rains brought floods and landslides to much of southern California earlier this week, over Sunday through Tuesday. Many climate stations reported over 5 inches of rain. Long Beach reported over 7.5 inches, downtown LA reported 8.88 inches, and San Gabriel Canyon reported just under 10 inches. The mountains east of LA reported from 2 to 4 feet of fresh snow. The Weather Underground provided a more detailed narrative about this storms on their web site.

The BBC reported this week that the EU’s Climate Service has shown that the global temperature anomaly for the most recent 12 months (Feb 2023 to Jan 2024) exceeded 1.5°F, the threshold agreed to prevent by the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015. They also report that the average daily global sea surface temperature (records back to 1979), between latitudes 60° N and 60°F south has set a new all-time record high of 21.05°C (69.9°F) when it reached that level of February 3 of 2024. More aggressive strategies to restrict emissions of GHG are encouraged.

An article in this week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features a study about the poleward shift in vegetation types that is produced by climate change. This has great implications for forests and the timber industry in many countries. Countries that are economically dependent on their natural resources will be more profoundly impacted.

MPR listener question:

Have we ever had a snowless February in the Twin Cities? If not, what is the least amount of snow we have had this month?


We have never had a snowless February since official snow observations started in 1884. The closest to a snowless February were in 1894 and 2017 when only 0.3 inches was measured for the month, and in 1935 when only 0.8 inches was measured.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 9th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 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 9th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1966; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degrees F in 1899; lowest daily minimum temperature of -33 degrees F in 1899; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1966; record precipitation of 0.92 inches in 1965. There was a record 8.0 inches of snowfall in 1939.

Average dew point for February 9th is 6°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 34°F in 1987; and the minimum dew point on this date is -47 degrees F in 1996.

All-time state records for February 9th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 63 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1991. The state record low temperature for this date is -59 degrees F at Leech Lake (Cass County) in 1899. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.75 inches at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1909. The state snowfall record is 15.0 inches also at Albert Lea (Freeborn County) also in 1909.

Past Weather:

The coldest February 9th was in 1899, when Arctic air gripped the state producing morning lows from -20°F to -40°F across the state. Itasca, Hubbard, Becker, and Cass counties reported morning lows of -50°F or colder. The afternoon high temperature at Detroit Lakes only reached -32°F.

A slow-moving winter storm brought heavy snowfall across the state over February 9-10 of 1909. Many climate stations reported 8 to 16 inches of snowfall, with drifts as high as 6 feet. New Ulm reported 18 inches of snow.

The warmest February 9th occurred in 1991 when much of the state saw afternoon temperatures in the 50s F. Citizens in Brown, Redwood, and Yellow Medicine Counties took lunch break outside in 60 degrees F temperatures.


Blustery with cooler temperatures over the weekend, but still warmer than normal for this time of year. Generally dry with a chance for snow by the middle of next week, as temperatures slowly drop to near normal levels for February.

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