<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> February 2012 and Winter 2011-2012 Saint Cloud Weather Summary
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Three Months of March-like Weather Conclude With A March-Like Snowstorm

February 2012 and Winter 2011-2012 Saint Cloud, MN, Weather Summary

Note: This is a summary of meteorological winter, which is defined as the three coldest months of the year (1 December through 29 February). Astronomical winter ends on thespring equinox, which will be on March 20 this year. That's the day when we get back to 12 hours of daylight. Also, note that the cold season can be used to refer to the part of the year when Minnesota can get snow (typically Oct-Apr, but can be longer) or the heating season (July 1-June 30).

Tied for Warmest Winter with 2001-2002

It wasn't as extreme as January (two 50-degree and 6 40-degree highs), but February 2012 continued the trend of much milder than normal weather in St. Cloud, MN. That helped to push the final St. Cloud winter average temperature to 23.4°F, 8.6°F warmer than the average. This figure meant that the winter of 2011-2012 tied with 2001-2002 for St. Cloud's warmest winter in 130 years of St. Cloud records. Note that 8 of the 23 mildest winters have been recorded in the past 15 years.

During this incredibly benign winter, the average high was 32.2°F (tied with 2001-2002 for the warmest average winter high) and the average low was 14.5°F (third warmest winter low temperature behind 1997-1998 and 2001-2002). Those would be typical highs and lows for either March 2 or November 27.

Entire Cold Season So Far Second Warmest

This continued a trend of mild months since the second half of the summer. In fact, the St. Cloud average temperature of October through February, 31.0°F, is just 0.6°F short of the warmest Oct-Feb period, again set in 2001-2002.

All of the various markers are consistent with this incredibly warm winter. Through the end of February, St. Cloud has only 46 days with a high of freezing or colder. Through the end of February, there are usually about 88 days with a high that cold. The 46 days ties the cold season of 1918-1919 as the cold season with the fewest days with a high of freezing or colder. The all-time record for fewest freezing or colder highs in an entire cold season is 53 days, set in 1918-1919, followed by 59 days in 1913-1914, and 61 days in 1999-2000. So, we have a shot at that record.

Through the end of February, St. Cloud has had only 9 days with a low of zero or colder. That is one day short of the fewest sub-zero lows through February, set in 1907-1908 and tied in 2001-2002. The record fewest sub-zero lows for the entire cold season was 11 days, set in 1907-1908. This cold season's total is now 10 days, since St. Cloud dropped to zero on March 4, but that record is still possible.

On the other hand, the incredible number of mild high temperatures for the winter continues. The 53-degree high set on January 5 was the earliest 50-degree high in St. Cloud records. The large number of highs above 40 degrees (16 days) and 45 degrees (6 days) also rank among the 20 seasons with the most in those categories.

February Also Cracks the 10 Warmest

February 2012 played its role. Despite having a snow cover for 25 of the 29 days, which doubled the number of days with a snow cover for the entire winter, the average temperature was 24.7°F, 7.7°F warmer than the average. So, February 2012 ranked as the 9th warmest February among the 131 Februaries in St. Cloud records. This follows a January that was the 9th warmest and a December that ranked as the 10th warmest. The winter of 2011-2012 is the only winter in St. Cloud records in which all three winter months broke into the 10 warmest.

The snow cover tempered the high temperatures, so that no high got beyond 43°F. However, the mild low of 27 degrees on February 3 tied a record warm low for the date. That was the third daily record warm low tied or broken this winter and the 10th daily warm record set this winter. A brief cold spell on February 10 and 11 did drop the low temperatures below zero for a pair of days. Still, the coldest low temperature of the season so far was the low of -17°F on January 19. If that were to hold up as the coldest low temperature of the winter season, 2011-2012 would tie 2005-2006 for the 3rd mildest extreme low of the season. Note that, if the temperature fails to reach -20 in March (and St. Cloud has only hit -20 in March 5 times, most recently in 1965), 2011-2012 would be only the 6th cold season in which St. Cloud never reached -20°F on any night.

February 2012's coldest high temperatures was18 degrees, so the coldest high for the season remains the 3°F high on January 19. There have been only 13 days colder than normal out of the 91 days this winter.

Snow Drought Broken By Record Leap Day Storm

Going into February 28, St. Cloud only had 18.9 inches of snow during the cold season of 2011-2012. However, the 7.8 inches that fell from the night of February 28 through the 29th set a Leap Day record for daily snowfall with 4.7 inches and a record for Feb. 29 daily precipitation with 0.51 inch. Note, however, that these are relatively wussy records since there have only been 36 leap days in St. Cloud records. Meteorologists usually use 30 years just to define what is average, let alone a record.

This storm, which dumped over 15 inches of snow in Bruno and 12 inches in Carlos, pushed both the February snowfall to above normal levels. The total February snowfall was 10.5 inches, 3.3 inches above normal. The total cold season snowfall was 26.7 inches through February 29, still 8.4 inches less than normal.

There have now been 22 days with measurable snowfall so far this cold season, which is actually close to the average number. During our period of mild winters in the late 1990's and early 2000's, there were several years with fewer than 20 days with measurable snowfall. There have been 10 days with at least an inch of snow. There have been fewer days for the entire cold season three times in the past 10 years and 2009-2010 only had 11 days with at least an inch during the entire winter.

Still, the St. Cloud area has not seen 5 inches of snow in a day since March 22-23 2011 (7.1 inches). The last time St. Cloud had at least 8 inches of snow from a single storm was February 20-22 (8.6 inches), the same one that produced a record February snowfall in the Twin Cities.

The total February precipitation was 1.24 inches, the first above normal rainfall seen since this past August. For the winter season, St. Cloud had 2.24 inches of liquid precipitation, just above the average of 2.18 inches.

Effect of Leap Day Storm on Drought (Or Dry Spell Or Whatever?)

The Leap Day snow was unusually wet and mixed with rain at times from the Twin Cities southward, keeping snowfall totals low. In St. Cloud, it was a particularly wet snow with 0.99 inch of water locked up in the snowfall. Some portions of southern Minnesota saw over an inch of half of precipitation during the storm. In areas where the ground was not frozen, this rainfall could go to relieve the precipitation shortfall that has been on-going since the middle of the summer. In fact, the National Drought Portal showed moderate drought conditions in southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa as well as the Arrowhead. However, for areas with frost in the ground, the precipitation locked up in the snow will help to replenish lakes and waterways when it melts, but won't help the ground water situation.

Awareness of Recent Dryness, Not Panic Needed

Most of Minnesota and Wisconsin will need substantial rainfall once the snow melts and the ground thaws to help out surface dry soil. Otherwise, we could be facing a high wildfire threat until greening occurs. Note, however, that measures like the National Drought Monitor are meant to spread early awareness of developing conditions. The indicators used haven't been used in major area droughts like the 1986-1989 drought, which would have been off the charts. At this point, the worst long-term drought in the US is affecting west Texas and eastern Georgia and there has been substantial relief to most of the South during this wet winter.

Keep in mind that the dry second half of last year followed a very wet winter and spring.

Will the Mild Weather Continue?

Temperatures have been about the same as many recent days in St. Cloud during the beginning of March with highs in 30's and 20's and a few single digit lows. That is now slightly colder than average since with the daily sunshine now over 11 hours (sunrise is now before 7 AM and sunset is after 6 PM).

There is warmer weather on tap as southwest flow is already pushing the jet stream northward well into British Columbia and Alberta (see water vapor loop from Hemispheric Products on the College of DuPage Analysis Menu) returns to the west-east direction we've seen so much this non-winter. Note that the air mass temperature at 5,000 feet mostly stays above freezing (light blue or warmer on the Unisys 10-day GFS 850 mb forecast). In fact, temperatures well into the 50's (yellow areas and warmer) are forecast to be over the southern half of Minnesota by Tuesday afternoon.

The problem is that we now have a fairly deep snow cover in central Minnesota into Wisconsin. We will be using up sunshine melting this snow for at least a day or two when temperatures climb back above freezing, so that will likely keep highs from making it into the 50's in central Minnesota on this stab at it. Note that to break a record early next week, highs would have to be in the 60's or even 70's, thanks to warm early Marches in 1987 and 2000.

Beyond that? Keep in mind that this winter was supposed to be colder than normal, not ranking among the warmest winters of all-time, not just in St. Cloud but in much of southern Minnesota, northern Minnesota, and nearly or actually the warmest winter in Fargo and Grand Forks.

 

February 2012 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Feb 2012
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
33.1
26.8
Average Low Temperature (°F)
16.2
7.2
Mean Temperature for February (°F)
24.7*
17.0
*9th Warmest February in St. Cloud Records  
February Extremes
Temperature(°F)
Date
Warmest High Temperature for Feb 2012 (°F)
43
Feb. 6, 19
Coldest High Temperature for Feb 2012 (°F)
18
Feb. 11
Warmest Low Temperature for Feb 2012 (°F)
30
Feb. 29
Coldest Low Temperature for Feb 2012 (°F)
-2
Feb. 11
Record Temperatures in February 2012
Temperature(°F)
Date
Old Record
Daily Record Mild Low
27 (tie)
February 3
First set in 2005
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
February 2012 Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
12
20.0
February 2012 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
0
0.8
February 2012 Days with High Temperatures <= -10°F
0
0.5
February 2012 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
29
27.8
February 2012 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
2
12.2
February 2012 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F
0
2.9
February 2012 Days with Low Temperatures <= -30°F
0
0.4
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
Feb 2012
Normal
February 2012 Saint Cloud Airport Melted Precipitation (in)
1.24
0.59
February Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Date
Most Daily Precipitation in February 2012
0.51 inch (set record; see below)
Feb. 29
Record Precipitation in February 2012
Precipitation (in)
Date
Old Record
Daily Record Precipitation
0.51
Feb. 29 (only 36 years of records)
0.01 , set in 1940, 1948, 2008
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
February 2012 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
5
5.7
February 2012 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
3
2.1
February 2012 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
2
0.8
February 2012 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
1
0.3
February 2012Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
0
0.0
Snowfall (in)
Feb. 2012
Normal
February 2012 Saint Cloud Airport Snowfall (in)
10.5
7.2
Snowfall Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
February 2012 Days with Measurable (>= 0.1 inch) Snowfall
6
5.7
February 2012 Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
3
2.6
February 2012 Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
3
1.4
February 2012 Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
0
0.2
February Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Date
Most Daily Snowfall (in) in February 2012
4.7 (set record; see below)
February 29
Record Snowfall (in) in February 2012
Snowfall (in)
Date
Old Record
Daily Record Snowfall
4.7
February 29 (only 36 years of records)
0.5 inch in 1936

Winter (Dec 1-Feb 29) 2011-2012 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
Winter 2011-2012
Normal
Average High Temperature (°F)
32.2$
24.2
Average Low Temperature (°F)
14.5%
5.3
Mean Temperature for Winter (°F)
23.4#
14.8

#Tied with 2001-2002 for warmest winter in St. Cloud records

$Tied with 2001-2002 for warmest winter high

%3rd warmest winter average low behind 1997-1998 (16.2 F) and 2001-2002(14.6 F)

Winter Extremes
Temperature
Date
Warmest High Temperature for Winter 2011-2012 (°F)
53&
Jan 5, 2012
Coldest High Temperature for Winter 2011-2012 (°F)
3
Jan 19, 2012
Warmest Low Temperature for Winter 2011-2012 (°F)
34
Dec 12,13, 2011
Coldest Low Temperature for Winter 2011-2012 (°F)
-17@
Jan 19, 2012

&Earliest 50-degree high in St. Cloud records

@Tied for 3rd warmest season extreme low

Coldest Temperatures of the Season
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F

#Tied for fewest through Feb.

46#
87.6

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F

0
4.3

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with High Temperatures <= -10°F

None since January 29, 2004

0
0.6

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F

128
170.4

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F

Third Fewest Total Through Feb

9
42.7

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F

0
5.4

Cold Season 2011-2012
Days with Low Temperatures <= -30°F

0
0.6
Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
Winter 2010-2011
Normal
Saint Cloud Airport Winter Melted Precipitation (in)
2.21
2.18
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
Winter 2011-2012
Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
19
19.4
Winter 2011-2012
Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
6
6.5
Winter 2011-2012
Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
2
2.3
Winter 2011-2012
Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
1
0.6
Winter 2011-2012
Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
0
0.0

 

Snowfall (in)
Winter 2010-2011
Normal
Winter 2011-2012 Snowfall (in)
22.8
25.5
Seasonal Snowfall (in) for Cold Season 2011-2012 (October 1, 2011-February 29, 2012)
26.7
35.1
     
Snowfall Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
Cold-Season 2011-2012 Days with Measurable Snowfall
22
24.8
Cold-Season 2011-2012 Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
10
10.6
Cold-Season 2011-2012 Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
6
5.5
Cold-Season 2011-2012 Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
1
1.0

 

St. Cloud Fewest Highs of Freezing or Colder Through Feb.

Rank
Winter

Number of Days

1 (tie)
1918-1919
46
1 (tie)
2011-2012
46
3
2001-2002
49
4
1907-1908
53
5 (tie)
1913-1914
55
5 (tie)
1943-1944
55
7
1956-1957
56
8
1999-2000
57
9 (tie)
1901-1902
59
9 (tie)
1923-1924
59
9 (tie)
1986-1987
59

St. Cloud Fewest Lows of 0°F or Colder Through Feb

Rank
Cold Season

Number of Days

1 (tie)
1907-1908
8
1 (tie)
2001-2002
8
3
2011-2012
9
4
1997-1998
14
5
1920-1921
15
6
1930-1931
16
7 (tie)
1918-1919
17
7 (tie)
1986-1987
17
7 (tie)
2005-2006
17
10
1900-1901
19

 

Warmest St. Cloud Average Temperature Oct-Feb

Rank
Cold Season

Avg Oct-Feb Temp(°F)

1
2001-2002
31.6
2
2011-2012
31.0
3
1881-1882
29.2
4
1918-1919
29.1
5
1913-1914
29.0
6
1920-1921
28.9
7
1931-1932
28.8
8
1997-1998
28.5
9
2005-2006
28.0
10
1907-1908
27.9

 

 

 

St. Cloud Warm Winter (Dec-Feb) Highs
Most Winter Highs >=40°F
Most Winter Highs >=45°F
Most Winter Highs >=50°F
Rank Cold-Season Number of Days Rank Cold-Season Number of Days Rank Cold-Season Number of Days
1
2001-2002
24
1
1980-1981
15
1
1939-1940
9
2
1923-1924
22
2
2001-2002
14
2 (tie)
1941-1942
6
3 (tie)
1913-1914
21
3
1930-1931
13
2 (tie)
1980-1981
6
3 (tie)
1930-1931
21
4
1939-1940
12
4 (tie)
1930-1931
5
3 (tie)
1980-1981
21
5
1990-1991
11
4 (tie)
1999-2000
5
3 (tie)
1986-1987
21
6 (tie)
1941-1942
10
6 (tie)
1907-1908
4
7
1998-1999
18
6 (tie)
1960-1961
10
6 (tie)
1929-1930
4
8 (tie)
1941-1942
17
8 (tie)
1899-1900
9
8 (tie)
1904-1905
3
8 (tie)
1960-1961
17
8 (tie)
1999-2000
9
8 (tie)
1913-1914
3
8 (tie)
1999-2000
17
10 (tie)
1923-1924
8
8 (tie)
1920-1921
3
11 (tie)
1943-1944
16
10 (tie)
1986-1987
8
8 (tie)
1931-1932
3
11 (tie)
1957-1958
16
12 (tie)
1901-1902
7
8 (tie)
1957-1958
3
11 (tie)
2011-2012
16
12 (tie)
1913-1914
7
8 (tie)
1960-1961
3
12 (tie)
1916-1917
7
8 (tie)
1962-1963
3
12 (tie)
1917-1918
7
8 (tie)
1990-1991
3
12 (tie)
1931-1932
7
8 (tie)
1997-1998
3
12 (tie)
1957-1958
7
8 (tie)
2001-2002
3
18 (tie)
1904-1905
6
8 (tie)
2002-2003
3
18 (tie)
1905-1906
6
18 (tie)
1923-1924
2
18 (tie)
1920-1921
6
18 (tie)
1943-1944
2
18 (tie)
1929-1930
6
18 (tie)
1975-1976
2
18 (tie)
1989-1990
6
18 (tie)
1986-1987
2
18 (tie)
2004-2005
6
18 (tie)
1989-1990
2
18 (tie)
2011-2012
6
18 (tie)
1998-1999
2
18 (tie)
2011-2012
2

No 50-degree winter highs since 2003

St. Cloud Mildest Extreme Low of the Cold Season

Rank
Winter

Coldest Low Temperature of Season (°F)

1
2001-2002
-9
2
1982-1983
-16
3 (tie)
2005-2006
-17
3 (tie)
2011-2012 thru Feb
-17
5
1900-1901
-18
6
1897-1898
-19
7 (tie)
1956-1957
-20
7 (tie)
1986-1987
-20
9
1931-1932
-21
7 tied with -22, including 2006-2007
   
2007-2008
-24
2008-2009
-36
2009-2010
-27
2010-2011
-29

 



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Last updated: Sunday 04-Mar-2012 11:25 AM
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