snowy prairie scene
About four inches of new snow frame the morning of February 15, 2024 near Whitetail Woods in Dakota County.
Image credit: Minnesota State Climatology Office.

There may not have been much to write about if this had happened during last winter, but it was a pretty big deal for the Lost Winter of 2023-24.

The most widespread accumulating snow of the season affected mostly southern Minnesota on Wednesday February 14, 2024, producing a quick-hitting band of moderate to heavy snow during the afternoon and evening, and transforming the landscape with accumulations of 2 - 7 inches. This was the largest snowfall event of the season to date at many stations in the southern 40% of Minnesota.

The snow formed in association with a low-pressure system that passed eastward through Nebraska and Iowa, which was a rare sighting this winter. As cooler air filtered in from the northwest, it squeezed out some of the moisture that had pooled to the north of the low, allowing rain to fall briefly, before changing to snow quickly.

The snow spread eastward across most of the southern third of Minnesota during the afternoon and and evening, and became heavy in some areas at times as relatively strong lift acted upon the concentrated moisture available. This band of moderate to heavy snow only lasted about six hours, and in some areas peaked with snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour for 1-2 hours. This  was enough to put down a blanket of snow for the first time in weeks, and in up to two months in some areas.

Snowfall totals of 5-7 inches stretched from near Marshall in southwestern Minnesota through much of the Twin Cities area. Some members of the public and observers in the CoCoRaHS network reported slightly higher totals. The Twin Cities International Airport measured 6.9 inches of snow, setting a record for February 14th.  Other totals included 6.7 inches at Jordan, 6.5 inches at Bird Island, 6.0 inches at Brownton and Stillwater, and 5.0 inches at Marshall and Milan. At many stations in these areas, this became the largest snowfall of the season. In the Twin Cities and a few other locations, the highest snowfall of the season had been recorded on Halloween.

Snow has been hard to come by this winter, and even after this snowfall, the majority of the state is running 50-75% below normal, with some areas receiving less than 20% of their normal snowfall to date. A small number of stations in northwestern Minnesota are only short by 25%, and no station currently is above-normal.


February 15, 2024


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