<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> February 2003 Saint Cloud Weather Summary
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This Month's Daily Statistics

 

Issued: 1 March 2003

Subject: Saint Cloud Weather Summary for February 2003 and Winter 2002-2003

El Nino My Foot!

     February 2003 was a cold and dry month in Saint Cloud. The average temperature, recorded at the Saint Cloud Municipal Airport, was 11.0 degrees, more than 5 degrees below normal. Still, that only ranks as the 43rd coldest February out of 123 years on record. The most recent Februaries that were colder are 2001 and 1993. (Link to Historical Saint Cloud Monthly Temperatures) Still, four of the previous 5 Februaries had temperatures that were well above normal, so we aren't used to the cold.

     There were some cold moments during the month, but they only seem cold compared to recent mild winters. There were three high temperatures in the single digits, including a high of 4°F on the 10th and the 24th. However, it wasn't the coldest high temperature of the season; the high temperature was 2°F on January 22. Also, Saint Cloud did not have a high temperature of 0°F or lower. The last sub-zero high in Saint Cloud was set on December 24, 2000 when the high was -1°F. This is the longest streak without a sub-zero high in Saint Cloud history.

    The lowest temperature set during February 2003 was -22°F on the 7th. This was Saint Cloud's first low of -20°F or colder since February 21, 2001, when the low temperature was -24°F. Again, this nearly two-year gap reflects how mild recent Februaries have been rather than how extreme this February was. February 2003 contained 16 days with a sub-zero low, more than the whole cold season of 2001-2002.

   . Just to put the cold weather into perspective, it has now been 7 years since the cold blast of 1996. Between January 30 and February 4, 1996, we had 6 consecutive days with a low of at least -33°F. This streak included our last low of -40°F on February 2. On that day, the high temperature was only -20°F, yielding a daily average temperature of -30°F. Both the high temperature and the average temperature are still the coldest in Saint Cloud history and the low temperature is the second coldest February temperature in Saint Cloud history. February 2, 1996, was also the day that Tower had a low temperature of -60°F, the coldest temperature in Minnesota history. In all, Saint Cloud had 5 daily record lows, 4 daily record highs, and 5 daily record average temperatures during this period. (Use the following links for Saint Cloud daily January records and February records.)

    The one above-normal statistic during February 2003 was snowfall. There were 8.8 inches of snow, nearly 2 inches above normal. Most of this snow (7.0 inches) was dropped by the storm on the evening of February 3. This snowfall set a daily record for snow on Feb. 3. Still, the snowfall for the cold season of 2002-2003 totals only 20.4 inches through February 28. This is the 19th lowest snowfall through the end of February in Saint Cloud history and the least to this point since 1986. The normal snowfall through February 28 is 33.3 inches. So, February 2003 has been the snowiest month of the season so far, accounting for more than 43% of the total. If this were to hold up, it would be only the 14th year of the 95 complete seasons on record during which February was the snowiest month. The month that has been the snowiest most often in Saint Cloud history is January, which has been the snowiest month near one-third of the years in Saint Cloud records (31 of 94 years).

    Because the snow was so dry, the February melted precipitation total was only 0.39 inches, 0.20 inch below normal.

    The reason for the cold February weather this past month was the continuation of the cold weather pattern seen during the last two-thirds of January. The blocking high on the British Columbia coast continued to steer cold air masses into southern Canada and the Northern Plains. However, the difference, which allowed February temperatures to be well below normal was having snow cover most of the month, thanks to the storm on February 3. The presence of snow cover reflects much of the sun's radiation back to space, keeping temperatures down. Even during warmer periods, there was heat loss since some of the heat when temperatures are above freezing must be used to melt the snow.

      The cold of February dragged the winter (December 1-February 28) of 2002-2003 to a mean temperature of 15.6°F. This was still 2.5°F above normal. So, technically, the mild and dry winter associated with El Nino did take place, although much of the season was cold. The lack of snow cover through most of the winter allowed temperatures to be closer to normal during the cold periods. The low snowfall total did result in a winter total precipitation of 0.78 inch. This is the third driest winter melted precipitation total in Saint Cloud records.

      Will conditions change in March? The blocking high over British Columbia remains locked in place and will be sending a new batch of cold air into Minnesota for most of the upcoming week. Some of the blow would be deflected due to the lack of snow cover; however, a storm moving along the arctic front could put down 2-4 inches of snow with some areas getting up to 6 inches on Sunday night through Monday. That storm is still a bit uncertain, but replacing our snow cover would allow temperatures to get much colder.

February 2003 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Feb. 2003
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
22.4
25.7
Average Low Temperature (°F)
-0.5
6.4
Mean Temperature for February (°F)
11.0
16.1
February Extremes
Temperature(°F)
Date
Warmest High Temperature for Feb. 2003 (°F)
43
Feb. 20th
Coldest High Temperature for Feb. 2003 (°F)
4
Feb. 10th, 24th
Warmest Low Temperature for Feb. 2003 (°F)
30
Feb. 2nd
Coldest Low Temperature for Feb. 2003 (°F)
-22
Feb. 7th
Record Temperatures in February 2003
Temperature(°F)
Date
No Temperature Records Set
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
Feb. 2003
Normal
February 2003 Melted Precipitation (in)
0.39
0.59
February Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Date
Most Daily Precipitation in February 2003
.32 (tied record)
Feb. 3rd
Record Precipitation in February 2003
Precipitation (in)
Date
Old Record
Daily Melted Precipitation
0.32 (tied)
Feb. 3rd
Set in 1943
Snowfall (in)
Feb. 2003
Normal
February 2003 Snowfall (in)
8.8
7.0
Seasonal Snowfall (in) for Cold Season 2002-2003
20.4
33.3
February Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Date
Most Daily Snowfall (in) in February 2003
7.0 (set record)
Feb. 3rd
Record Snowfall (in) in February 2003
Snowfall (in)
Date
Old Record
Daily Snowfall (in)
7.0
Feb. 3rd
3.1 in 1971

Winter (Dec 1-Feb 28) 2002-2003 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Winter 2002-2003
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
25.3
22.5
Average Low Temperature (°F)
5.8
3.6
Mean Temperature for Winter (°F)
15.6
13.1
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
Winter 2002-2003
Normal
Winter Melted Precipitation (in)
0.78*
2.18
Snowfall (in)
Winter 2002-2003
Normal
Winter 2002-2003 Snowfall (in)
13.6
26.0
Seasonal Snowfall (in) for Cold Season 2002-2003
20.4
33.3

Least Lows of 0°F or Colder During a Cold Season in Saint Cloud

Rank
Number of Sub-Zero Lows
Season
1
12
2001-2002
2
16
1997-1998
3
17
1986-1987
4(tie)
22
1918-1919
4(tie)
22
1941-1942
6(tie)
29
1908-1909
6(tie)
29
1990-1991
6(tie)
29
1998-1999
9(tie)
30
1931-1932
9(tie)
30
1982-1983
Through Feb. 28
36
2002-2003


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Last updated: 3-March-2003
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