February 17-22, 2017 Heat Wave

Sunny skies over a snow-free landscape led to one of the most remarkable February heat waves on record.

The heat wave began on Friday, February 17, as mild winds from the south and southwest caused temperatures to soar. The Twin Cities reached 63 degrees, which set a daily record and was tied for the second warmest February day on record. Even 5,000 feet above the ground temperatures were near 60 degrees. Over the next several days, temperatures rose repeatedly to record or near-record levels across the state, with 50s and 60s common. On Monday February 20, much of Minnesota saw a steady, spring-like rain, with many locations recording a half-inch of rain or more. Muggy conditions accompanied the rain, and the 52-degree dew point temperature in the Twin Cities was the highest value ever recorded that early in the season.

The heat wave broke numerous daily high temperature records across the state, as well as many "high minimum" records. On February 20th the National Weather Service volunteer observer at Marshall recorded a low temperature of 52 degrees, which was the highest minimum ever recorded during February in Minnesota, beating out the old value of of 50 degrees at Tracy in 1948.

One record that was not broken was the statewide record high for the month of February. This still stands at 73 degrees, observed at Pleasant Mound in Blue Earth County in 1896.

The heat wave was broken on February 23, with the approach of a snow storm and a return to winter for southern Minnesota.

Below are some past February temperature records and records set in 2017.

Maximum Temperature Records
February 17

Location       Old     Year  New    Year 
               Record        Record 
----------------------------------------------
Twin Cities       55    1981  63    2017  
St. Cloud         54    1981  59    2017 
Rochester         63    1981  ---
La Crosse         64    1981  ---
Duluth            52    1981  52    2017 (Tie)
Internat Falls    52    1907  58    2017 (all time Feb rec tied with 2000)

Maximum Temperature Records 
February 18

Location       Old     Year  New    Year 
               Record        Record
----------------------------------------------
Twin Cities       58    1981  58    2017 (Tie)  
St. Cloud         54    1981  57    2017 
Rochester         60    1981  ---
La Crosse         64    1981  ---
Duluth            53    1981  ---
Internat Falls    49    1954  51    2017


Maximum Temperature Records 
February 19

Location       Old     Year  New    Year 
               Record        Record
----------------------------------------------
Twin Cities       57    1981  59    2017  
St. Cloud         56    1981  58    2017 
Rochester         59    1930  ---
La Crosse         59    1930  65    2017 (all time Feb rec tied)
Duluth            51    1930  ---
Internat Falls    47    1994  ---  


Maximum Temperature Records 
February 20

Location       Old     Year  New    Year 
               Record        Record
----------------------------------------------
Twin Cities       57    1981  ---    
St. Cloud         57    1981  ---   
Rochester         60    1930  ---
La Crosse         61    1930  ---
Duluth            54    1877  ---
Internat Falls    48    1990  ---   


Maximum Temperature Records 
February 21

Location       Old     Year  New    Year 
               Record        Record
----------------------------------------------
Twin Cities       59    1981  62    2017  
St. Cloud         55    1961  56    2017   
Rochester         60    1930  ---
La Crosse         64    1930  ---
Duluth            57    1877  ---
Internat Falls    50    2000  ---  

Maximum Temperature Records 
February 22

Location       Old     Year  New    Year 
               Record        Record
----------------------------------------------
Twin Cities       57    1930  57   2017 (Tie)    
St. Cloud         55    1961  55   2017 (Tie)  
Rochester         59    1930  ---
La Crosse         62    1984  ---
Duluth            52    1961  ---
Internat Falls    58    2000  ---  

Last modified: February 23, 2017
For more information contact: climate@umn.edu