<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> February 2004 Saint Cloud Weather Summary
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This Month's Daily Statistics

A Brutally Cold Winter? Well.....

Saint Cloud Weather Summary for February 2004 and Winter 2003-2004

     Supposedly, the cold season of 2003-2004 has marked the "return of real winter." However, neither the Saint Cloud statistics for February 2004 nor the ones for the winter of 2003-2004 support this observation. Believe it or no, the February 2004 average temperature, recorded at the Saint Cloud Municipal Airport, was 17.4°F, 1.3°F above normal. Both February 2001 (average temperature: 6.3°F) and February 2003 (average temperature: 11.0°F) were much colder than this past month. (Link to Historical Saint Cloud Monthly Temperatures) Yes, it was very cold for the first 17 days of February (average high: 17.8°F; average low: -2.2°F; February 2004 daily statistics). During that time, the temperature never climbed to freezing, there were two lows of -20°F or colder, and 9 lows of zero or colder. Only 4 of those first 17 days were warmer than normal. After the 17th, the coldest air in North America moved out of Minnesota and the only other outbreak that headed southward from the Yukon never got closer than northern Ontario. As a result, all but one high temperature during that period was above freezing. The average high temperature for the last 12 days was 37.6°F. More importantly, the frequent clouds and moist air caused by the melting snow produced an average low of 24.4°F, nearly 18°F above normal. These mild low temperatures produced an average February low temperature that was 2.4°F above normal.

     The temperature statistics for Saint Cloud's winter of 2003-2004 (Dec. 1, 2003 - Feb. 29, 2004) show a much warmer than normal winter. The average temperature was 15.7°F, 2.6°F above normal.(winter season statistics are here). There are two major reasons that the winter came out so warm. First of all, December's average temperature was 8°F above normal. (December 2003 summary is here) We would have needed an extremely cold January and February to cancel out December's warmth.

    The other major reason for the relatively mild winter was that it was intensely cold at times this winter, but the cold periods didn't last that long. The most persistent cold period in Saint Cloud began on January 18 and ended on February 17. During that period, we had our first high of -10°F or colder since December 25, 1996 (Highs of -10°F or colder) and our first low of -30°F or below since December 26, 1996. (Lows of -30°F or colder). We had a total of 19 days with a low of zero or colder (Lows of 0°F or colder) and a streak of 29 straight days without the temperature reaching freezing (Jan. 12-Feb. 17). During that cold month between mid-January and mid-February, the average high temperature was 12.9°F and the average low temperature was -5.6°F. This month, if it had occurred entirely in January, our coldest month, would have averaged 3.7°F, 5.0°F colder than the January normal and would have been the coldest January by far since January 1996. However, the rest of the December-February period without that cold month averaged 21.7°F (high: 29.1°F; low 14.5°F). This would have ranked as the 6th warmest winter in Saint Cloud history had it persisted for the entire three months (Saint Cloud's Ten Mildest/Coldest Winters). In addition, Saint Cloud has only recorded 27 days with a low of 0°F. If this holds up, it will be the 12th lowest total of sub-zero lows in Saint Cloud history and will rival many of the low totals of the recent mild winters.So, while temperatures were as cold as previous severely cold winters, the cold period lasted only about a month and the rest of the winter was as mild as we've had during the past 8 winters.

     The "Jekyll and Hyde" nature of this winter was also borne out by February's snowfall statistics. Saint Cloud State University recorded 9.3 inches of snow this past month, 2.0 inches above normal. February's snowfall actually seemed a lot like January, since there were 11 days with measurable snowfall, but there were only two days (the 2nd and the 9th) when as much as an inch and a half fell.(February 2004 daily statistics) Most of these small doses happened during the cold first 17 days of the month. The February snowfall brings the 2003-2004 seasonal snowfall to 41.4 inches, 7.6 inches above normal. (Saint Cloud historic snowfall here) Again, this is misleading, considering we have just finished our longest stretch with a measurable snowpack (Jan. 23-Feb. 29). The snow pack, which reached 10 inches during much of the first 17 days of February, was instrumental in allowing the temperatures to be so cold in early February. However, most of the snow we have received during this cold season melted shortly after falling, often as soon as the snow stopped.

    February's melted precipitation totaled 0.78 inch, slightly above normal. More than a quarter inch of this total fell during the milder weather of the past two weeks, since the milder air was able to hold more moisture than the extremely cold air during our one-month winter. Much of this late month precipitation fell as wet snow, sleet, and rain, often with the temperature above freezing. Still, the back-and-forth of temperatures around the freezing point often made for hazardous travel conditions as a layer of ice formed underneath the light wet snow or wet roads simply froze. Still, Saint Cloud, for the most part, continued to get merely glancing blows from storms, dodging the moderately higher totals that occurred elsewhere, either in the state or in neighboring states. February's precipitation accounted for more than half of the winter's melted precipitation. The total precipitation was only about two-thirds of the normal total. The moisture would not have been able to seep into the frozen ground and ease the effects from the dry spell during the second half of 2003. The latest National Drought Monitor from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows that drought conditions have actually eased somewhat in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa from the extreme rating in the late fall. There have been several storms producing significant rain or snow during the past month. The drought condition in the western Boundary Waters and north-central Minnesota has dropped from moderate to severe drought during the past month, but conditions in the Arrowhead have been relieved by the deep snowpack from the January two-foot snowstorm. Central Minnesota continues to be ranked in the moderate drought category as has been true since the end of last fall. The key to relieving the dry soil conditions will be getting rain or wet snow after the ground thaws.

February 2004 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Feb 2004
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
26.0
25.7
Average Low Temperature (°F)
8.8
6.4
Mean Temperature for February (°F)
17.4
16.1
February Extremes
Temperature(°F)
Date
Warmest High Temperature for Feb 2004 (°F)
46
Feb. 29th
Coldest High Temperature for Feb 2004 (°F)
3
Feb. 3rd
Warmest Low Temperature for Feb 2004 (°F)
33
Feb. 29th
Coldest Low Temperature for Feb 2004 (°F)
-26
Feb. 4th
Record Temperatures in February 2004
Temperature(°F)
Date
Old Record
No record temperatures set.
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
February 2004 Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
29
February 2004 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
0
0.8
February 2004 Days with High Temperatures <= -10°F
0
0.5
February 2004 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
28
27.8
February 2004 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
9
12.2
February 2004 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F
2
2.9
February 2004 Days with Low Temperatures <= -30°F
0
0.4
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
Feb 2004
Normal
February 2004 Melted Precipitation (in)
0.78
0.59
February Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Date
Most Daily Precipitation in February 2004
0.11
Feb 20th
Record Precipitation in February 2004
Precipitation (in)
Date
Old Record
No precipitation records set
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
February 2004 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
11
5.7
February 2004 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
4
2.1
February 2004 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
0
0.8
February 2004 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
0
0.3
February 2004 Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
0
0.0
Snowfall (in)
Feb. 2004
Normal
February 2004 Snowfall (in)
9.3
7.0
Seasonal Snowfall (in) for Cold Season 2003-2004
41.4
33.3
February Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Date
Most Daily Snowfall (in) in February 2004
2.0
Feb 9th
Record Snowfall (in) in February 2003
Snowfall (in)
Date
Old Record
No snowfall records set

Winter (Dec 1-Feb 29) 2003-2004 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Winter 2003-2004
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
23.7
22.5
Average Low Temperature (°F)
7.8
3.6
Mean Temperature for Winter (°F)
15.7
13.1
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
88
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
3
4.3
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with High Temperatures <= -10°F
1
0.6
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
127
170.4
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
27
42.9
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F
6
5.4
Cold Season 2003-2004
Days with Low Temperatures <= -30°F
1
0.6
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
Winter 2003-2004
Normal
Winter Melted Precipitation (in)
1.48
2.18
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
Winter 2003-2004
Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
22
19.4
Winter 2003-2004
Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
9
6.5
Winter 2003-2004
Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
0
2.3
Winter 2003-2004
Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
0
0.6
Winter 2003-2004
Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
0
0.0
Snowfall (in)
Winter 2003-2004
Normal
Winter 2003-2004 Snowfall (in)
28.1
26.0
Seasonal Snowfall (in) for Cold Season 2003-2004
41.4
33.3

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

Rank
Season
Number of Lows <= 0°F
1
1907-1908
11
2
2001-2002
15
3 (tie)
1920-1921
16
3 (tie)
1930-1931
16
3 (tie)
1997-1998
16
6
1986-1987
17
7
1903-1904
20
8
1900-1901
21
9 (tie)
1918-1919
22
9 (tie)
1941-1942
22
11
1999-2000
26
12
2003-2004
(Through Feb. 29)
27
14 (tie)
1998-1999
29
1896-2003
Average
42.9


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Last updated: 2-March-2004
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